UN boss visits Somalia for 1st time since 1993
09 December 2011, 17:14
MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Ban
Ki-moon made the first visit to Somalia by a U.N. Secretary General
since 1993 on Friday and pledged to open a U.N. political office in the
war-ravaged capital Mogadishu in January.
Ban said his visit was to show solidarity with the Somalia people
and to pledge continued international support as the government and
African Union troops fight Islamist rebels and politicians work towards
elections next year.
The U.N. Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) has a few political
officers on the ground in Mogadishu but high-level officials are based
in Kenya's capital Nairobi due to security concerns.
Diplomats in Nairobi said that for the plan announced by Ban to
have significance at least one of the two top officials -- Special
Representative Augustine Mahiga and Deputy Special Representative
Christian Manahl -- should move to Mogadishu.
Ban was accompanied by Mahiga and the U.N General Assembly
President Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser. They met Somali President Sheikh
Sharif Ahmed and Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali.
"We are honoured today to visit Somalia and we are here to show
the people of Somalia our solidarity and how the U.N. could help the
people of Somalia to a better future," Ban told a news conference.
The U.N. is expanding available accommodation space in Mogadishu
ahead of the plan to beef up its office. Mogadishu is still plagued by
regular suicide attacks and fighting even though most rebels pulled out
Ban urged all Somalis to support a political roadmap agreed
earlier this year that is meant to lead to parliamentary and
presidential elections next year and end a string of fragile transition
He condemned the closure of some aid agency offices by Somalia's al-Qaeda-linked al Shabaab rebels last month.
The last U.N. Secretary General to visit Somalia was Boutros Boutros-Ghali in 1993.