U.S. ambassador to Somalia starts duty

Donald Yamamoto becomes the 2nd ambassador to Somalia since U.S recognition of Somali Federal Government in 2013

By T. Roble

U. S Mission to Somalia Thursday announced the arrival of newly appointed ambassador Donald Yamamoto as he takes over from his predecessor Stephen Schwartz who resigned last October.

Yamamoto who until his appointment to take up the Somali mission was the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.

The U. S Mission to Somalia described Yamamoto as a high level ambassador.

“Ambassador Yamamoto is one of the highest-level U.S. ambassadors on the African continent, a symbol of the significance that the United States places on our relationship with the people and government of Somalia.”

Yamamoto comes amid U.S withdrawal of military support to Somali National Army following reports of corruption within the military ranks. Parliament Wednesday approved a $22.5m supplementary budget most of which ($17m) is meant to cover a salary deficit for 8,000 soldiers. Finance Minister Abdirahman Beileh told Parliament the shortage was occasioned by cuts from foreign governments.

READ ALSO: US diplomatic influence in Somalia waning- former diplomat

The new ambassador will also be seeking to revamp what a former senior diplomat at the Mission termed as U.S.’ ‘waning’ influence in Somalia. In her resignation letter to then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Elizabeth Shackelford who served as a political officer said the staff cuts at the State Department was costing the U.S. its influence in countries such as Somalia.

“The cost of this is visible every day in Mission Somalia, my current post, where State’s diplomatic influence, on the country and within our own interagency, is waning,” she wrote.

Yamamoto is expected to present his credential to President Mohamed Farmaajo. He becomes the third second U.S ambassador to Somalia since normalisation of relations in 2013.

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