The US has appointed
a special envoy for Somalia, which is struggling to restore order after 16
years without a functioning central government.
John Yates, a career diplomat with experience in Africa, will head the Somalia
unit from the US embassy in Kenya, because of the lack of security.
The US helped Ethiopia and government forces drive out an Islamist group from
the capital, Mogadishu, last December.
The US accused the Islamists of sheltering al-Qaeda operatives.
The Union of Islamic Courts denied the charges.
« The United States is committed to helping Somalis develop their national
institutions and overcome the legacy of violence and disorder of the past, »
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a statement announcing the
« By supporting the people of Somalia in this effort, we are also contributing
to the peace and stability of the Horn of Africa, and to the African continent
as a whole. »
John Yates has served as ambassador to Cameroon, Benin and Cape Verde.
He retired in 2002 but has been monitoring developments in Somalia from the
embassy in Kenya.
The Somali government says it has defeated Islamist insurgents but this week
a roadside bomb killed four African Union peacekeepers and on Thursday a bomb
targeted the prime minister’s convoy but no-one was hurt.
The Ugandan army says the dead peacekeepers’ families will be paid
$100,000 in compensation, reports Uganda’s New Vision newspaper.
Earlier this year US war planes conducted several strikes against what it
said were al-Qaeda suspects who were fleeing along with the Islamist fighters.
But the US said it had not killed any of its major targets.
The US says the 1998 attacks on its embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and the
2002 attack on Israeli targets in Kenya were co-ordinated from Somalia.