Somali President visits Minneapolis

Marion Renault

 

Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud spoke to a crowd of 4,000 Minnesota Somalis Friday at the Minneapolis convention center.

The event rounded out a successful day for the president. Earlier Friday he met with President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who formally recognized his government, ending a 22 year break in the U.S.-Somali relationship.

Mohamud vowed Friday to “bring peace, stability and opportunity to the nation after a generation of chaos,” according to the Star Tribune. He said his main priorities were security and judicial and financial reforms and also expressed his gratitude for American assistance during Somalia’s tumultuous years.

However, his visit was not well-received by all. Several dozen protesters voiced their disappointment with Mohamud’s leadership outside the convention center that night.

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., was not among them. He said Mohamud was the best man to lead the country and emphasized that the diplomatic recognition was a historic moment. He also called for a stronger relationship with Somalia in the future.

In September, Mohamed was chosen as president by a newly elected parliament Mohamud. Clinton praised the new government, which also includes a new prime minister and constitution.

"Progress was halting at times, but it was unmistakable," she said.

Eric Schwartz, dean of the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs and former assistant U.S. secretary of state under Clinton, told the Pioneer Press he believes the country is off to a “hopeful restart.” 

"While there will certainly be tough times ahead, we can be encouraged by the prospects for a greater degree of stabilization," he said.