MOGADISHU — Somalia is set to strengthen and reinvigorate its public diplomacy and trade relations with the Republic of South Africa, announcing plans to open an Embassy in Pretoria.

This was revealed during a meeting held in Cape Town this weekend by the Somali community in the rainbow nation. They stressed the urgent need to increase Somalia’s diplomatic representation in that part of the continent where many Somalis experience racial assault on daily bases.

The newly appointed Somali ambassador to South Africa, Sayid Hassan Sharif, has been meeting the Somali community in the Western Cape province since taking up the post at the beginning of this month.

He was also present on Saturday and urged the Somali business community to help the government establish the first ever Somali Embassy in the former Apartheid nation. The envoy emphasized the importance of having presence in South Africa. He said the embassy will strengthen Somali diplomatic engagement in the region, as well help protect the Somali expats there and unlock commercial opportunities for Somali traders.

The Somali community expressed their support for the diplomatic representation in Africa’s largest economy and vowed to assist the government in every way they can. They reiterated that Pretoria hosted the second most foreign diplomatic offices after the US capital, Washington DC.

They further stressed the importance of having ties with South Africa, which is currently seeking a permanent membership at the UN’s powerful Security Council. Pretoria is strongly lobbying the international community and Africa, in particular, to support its application for the organization. It argues that Africa, which makes up a sizeable proportion of the UN’s overall membership deserves a permanent representation at the UN.

Somalia never established an embassy in Pretoria protesting against the Apartheid regime and before Nelson Mandela came to office, the central government in Mogadishu collapsed.

Mr Sharif underlined that strengthening of Somalia’s diplomatic network will remain a central objective of the government and a key instrument to the country’s recovery.

Somalilandpress

July 23, 2012