US swears in first ambassador to Somalia after 25 years

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The Unites States swore in Ambassador Stephen Schwartz to take up office in Somalia after half a century following his appointment confirmation by the Senate reports VOA.

Schwartz replaces the last ambassador James Bishop, who vacated the US embassy in Somalia when they came under threat more than two decades ago. Schwart, 58,has served as the deputy chief of missions in Zambia.

“It will not be easy,” said James K. Bishop, the U.S. ambassador who fled with the rest of the embassy staff a quarter-century ago. “Al-Shabaab remains a threat, obviously, and the economic problems remain to be solved.”

US pulled it diplomatic mission in Somalia in 1993 after militia men shot down a US military helicopter that claimed the lives of 18 soldiers.

“None of us have any illusions about the challenges that lie ahead, challenges to Somalia’s political process, its stabilization efforts, its economic recovery, its fight against terrorists,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, as he swore in Schwartz. However, he added that Somalia has made progress because its leaders see the importance of growth, peace and stability.

The new ambassador’s appointment comes after the US Secretary of State John Kerry made an unnounced visit to Somalia a year ago, becoming the first sitting US secretary to make a state visit to the East African nation.

US formally recognized the government of Somali in 2013.

“It is time for Somali authorities to establish a responsive and effective Somali national army to defeat al-Shabab and unify the country,” Schwartz said.