Nairobi — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday sat down with members of Somalia's top transitional government officials in Kenyan capital,Nairobi, including president Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed.
She said she was encouraged by progress that Somali leaders have made in trying to re-establish a viable central government in the Horn of Africa nation where an Al-Qaeda-linked insurgency group still partly rules.
With the U.N. mandate for Somalia's current government expiring Aug. 20, and leaders set to vote on a new constitution, Clinton spoke of the work needed "to support the new government and to provide the kind of international sustainability that the people of Somalia so deserve so they can have the opportunity for a peaceful future with prosperity and development for the betterment" of all Somalis.
"We are very encouraged by the progress that the leaders have been making to meet all the requirements of the road map" by the Aug. 20 deadline,Clinton said before talks with Somali President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed and others.
Somali leaders voted Wednesday to approve a constitution that provides for individual rights and sets a course for a more powerful and representative government after two decades of near anarchy.
Underscoring the unstable security situation, explosions from a failed suicide attack hit the gates of the meeting site in the capitalMogadishu.
The constitution, eight years in the making, makes it clear that Islamic law is the basis for Somalia's legal foundation. The U.N. hopes to make the transition to a more representative form of government, but nationwide or even regional elections appear to be years away.
Somalia has not had a powerful central government since 1991, when the president was killed and the country collapsed into chaos, leaving vacuum that militants from the al-Qaeda affiliated hard-line al-Shabab Islamist group have tried to fill.