Britain Names New Ambassador to Somalia

Posted February 2nd, 2012 at 6:50 am (UTC-5)
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Britain has appointed its first ambassador to war-torn Somalia in more than two decades.

The announcement came Thursday, as British Foreign Secretary William Hague made a landmark visit to the Horn of Africa country.

Matt Baugh will serve as London's new senior envoy to Somalia. But British officials say he will be based in neighboring Kenya until security conditions allow for an embassy to built in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

Hague said in a statement that the appointment is a sign of Britain's “long-term commitment to Somalia.”

His visit comes ahead of a conference later this month in London that aims to come up with a comprehensive approach to end years of instability in country.

Britain's ambassador left Somalia 21 years ago as the country descended into chaos following the collapse of the country's last stable government.

More recently, a U.N.-supported transitional government has struggled to contain an Islamist insurgency and deal with a famine that has ravaged much of the southern part of the country.

Hague is the first British foreign secretary to visit Mogadishu in nearly 20 years.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also made a historic visit to the Somali capital in December, during which he announced that the U.N. would move its political office to Mogadishu from Kenya after a 17-year absence.