President Donald Trump has appointed the veteran diplomat, Donald Yamamoto as his ambassador to Somalia. No stranger to the continent, the newly minted ambassador served as the ambassador to Djibouti and then was posted to the US embassy in Addis Ababa by the administration of President George W. Bush.
His appointment comes at a time when the US is expanding its military presence in Somalia and the later remains in limbo between the government and Al Shabaab and in the midst of war.
Ambassador Donald Yamamoto has had rich public service experience within the State Department, notably within the African file recently serving as acting Assistant Secretary for African Affairs at the beginning of Trump’s administration. He was the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of African Affairs until his appointment on Wednesday.
The Japanese-American career diplomat was most recently in Ethiopia in his capacity as acting secretary and held various audiences with senior members of the government. He told The Reporter, during a press briefing held in Addis a few months back, how the United States is looking at roles for itself as Ethiopia is in the midst of a political transition of a new leadership. He described the visit of the then American Secretary of State as being important.
“We’re looking at what Ethiopians are looking at in the transition. What is the next government (of Abiy Ahmed) is going to look like,” he said. “How is it that the United States can play a role (in) supporting the new administration?”
The ambassador has several degrees from Columbia University and the National War College. He was awarded a Presidential Distinguished Service Award. He speaks several languages including Japanese, French, and Mandarin.
“Africa is really changing and evolving,” he said. “It really is going to be the pacesetter for the future, and if that is the case, then we need to be in Africa, we (the United States) needs to play a very helpful and supportive role but we also need to listen.”
Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed (Ph.D.) is set to make a week-long visit of the North American nation and hold discussions with the Ethiopian Diaspora. However, he is not expected to meet with the American President.