UK appoints new Ambassador to Somalia
MOGADISHU, Somalia – The UK has appointed a new envoy, who will come as the country goes through a difficult transition, in particular the ongoing feuds over the upcoming elections, which were due to start from December 2020.
Kate Foster will now succeed Ben Fender, who has been at the helm for several years, and who is credited with forging deep diplomatic relations with Somalia, a country that has struggled for peace and stability for nearly three decades, since ouster of Siad Barre.
Fender, who defends bilateral relations between London and Mogadishu, was first appointed in 2019 and is the driving force behind the security partnership between the two countries, which involves the training of the Somali National Army. [SNA].
Ms Foster will take over in February, when the country is expected to go through a transition after the presidential elections. The presidential elections are expected to take place on February 8, 2021, but there have been issues regarding the independence of the voting committee.
This would be Ms Foster’s immediate task as she will have to ensure that both parties are satisfied with the process. The opposition argues that President Farmajo is keen to install his cronies as polling agents for the purpose of rigging, a claim Villa Somalia rejects.
Defeating Al-Shabaab will also be on his agenda since the UK is a major security partner in Somalia. The militants, despite being considerably degraded, have carried out large-scale attacks in different parts of East Africa for as many years.
It would also be important to try to reunite North Western of Somaliaand Somalia after many years of animosity. Last year, Fender was among the main envoys who organized the Djibouti meeting between Mogadishu and Hargeisa, but the two sides have yet to find a viable solution.