Remarks by Ambassador Donald Yamamoto at the Somalia Partnership Forum

Good afternoon

I have been working on Somalia and Somali issues for decades and I can say that this is a key time in Somalia’s history.  Over the past few years, the Somali government and Somali people have made huge progress towards important milestones. To that end, I am proud to announce that as of today the U.S. Mission to Somalia transitions to the United States Embassy in Mogadishu.

It is a significant and historic day that reflects Somalia’s progress in recent years, and another step forward in regularizing U.S. diplomatic engagement in Mogadishu since recognizing the federal government of Somalia in 2013.

But all of Somalia’s progress – all of the work and effort — could be wasted.

Somalia’s leaders, from both the Federal Government and the Federal Member States, from the national level, to the state level, and to the local level must come together to use their political will and influence and prioritize unity over individual gain.

Unity, cooperation, and thoughtful compromise are ultimately necessary to achieve the ultimate prize for individual Somali citizens and for the nation as a whole.

That goal is a unified, peaceful Somalia with sustainable security and a vibrant, prosperous economy which balances national interests and local interests for the benefit of all Somalis.

This means that the will of the Somali people is being served.  The Somali people deserve the political space to choose accountable representatives in credible elections, and to actively exercise their political will as citizens.

As Somalia reaches milestones like debt relief, the resulting economic development will attract investment, create jobs, and offer Somalia’s citizens, especially its youth, opportunities to create peace and prosperity.

When Somalia’s developing institutions deliver key services to its citizens – for example, increasing their access to justice and education – it will increase their incentives to reject and oppose violent ideologies and groups that seek to undermine Somalia’s progress.

Even as we commit to standing by Somalia as a reliable international partner, the United States calls on Somalia’s leaders and all its citizens to work together in pursuit of these priorities.

We see three areas where Somalia can make significant progress that will lead to important gains:

  1. Improve the cooperation between national and local leaders and institutions, between the FGS and FMS;
  2. Continue to aggressively pursue the reforms that will lead to debt relief, including the passage of key legislation;
  3. Recognize the importance of initiatives to stabilize the parts of Somalia that have been liberated by the brave actions of the Somali National Army and its international partners.

We have confidence that Somalia will continue to pursue these important priorities creating a secure, prosperous, dynamic Somalia that will be the lynchpin of a more secure and prosperous region.

The United States will continue to be a strong partner to Somalia, supporting the country’s security and stability, as well as its economic, political, and social development.