Somalia spoilers warned of sanctions
Posted Monday, June 11 2012 at 22:30
The US has repeated its threat to impose sanctions on anyone who undermines political change in Somalia.
Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson said the US would issue travel sanctions and asset freeze orders on those who impede the political process to ongoing peace plans.
Addressing journalists in Nairobi after returning from Mogadishu on Sunday, Mr Carson said the US would continue to provide support to the AU Mission in Somalia (Amisom) as long as Al-Shabaab remained a threat to the country and the Horn of Africa.
“Somalia is considered to be a safe haven for Al-Qaeda and other terrorist elements,” he said.
Mr Carson’s visit to Mogadishu on Sunday was the first by a high ranking US official in nearly two decades.
This followed a bounty offer of up to $33 million by the US government to anyone who gives information leading to the capture of Al-Shabaab’s top leaders.
The Somalia-based militants made a counter mock offer of 10 head of camels for President Barack Obama and some chicken for the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
At the Press conference at Serena Hotel, Mr Carson said Washington had put top Al-Shabaab leaders on its most-wanted list because they announced affiliation with Al-Qaeda.
“By putting them on the list, it will help us get greater information from the public about where they are. As long as they remain free, they also remain dangerous,” the official said.
He went on: “They remain at large and we think they are dangerous and we believe they should be arrested and removed from the battlefield and so we encourage individuals to provide information that will help lead to their capture.”
He expressed confidence that the Transitional Federal Government in Somalia was committed to the set goals.
“We believe that those in government with whom we are talking are committed to the timelines and we believe the timelines are achievable,” he said.
Mr Carson said he met officials of the TFG and urged them to ensure the political roadmap to a more permanent government and constitution was completed by August.
“It is currently extremely important to complete this roadmap within the timeline set as fully as possible,” he said.
He said the draft constitution was almost complete and would be made available in a few days in both English and Somali.
According to the UN-backed roadmap, a new Parliament must be appointed and a new constitution adopted in Somalia before August 20.
Mr Carson, at the same time, praised Kenyan troops in Somalia for their recent capture of Afmadow, a key town in Somalia, from Al-Shabaab militants.
The Kenyan troops are currently preparing to liberate Kismayu, considered the Al-Shabaab hub.