Vote Of Confidence

In a sign of growing optimism that Somalia is winning a struggle against pirates and al Qaeda-linked insurgents, Britain opened an embassy on Thursday (April 25) in a set of four metal cabins at Mogadishu airport.

It was the first such move by a Western power since Somalia began to emerge from more than two decades of conflict.

Turkey and Iran are among others vying for influence in the Horn of Africa country, with growing commercial ties and diplomatic missions already up and running.

"That we are able to re-open it (British Embassy in Somalia) today, is a testimony to the progress Somalia has made in the last few years, it's a symbol of our enduring commitment to future of Somalia," said British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

The country is enjoying a delicate recovery but remains heavily dependent on others for its security. An African Union military offensive has driven weakened al Shabaab insurgents from bases in Mogadishu and other cities, and piracy in the strategic sea lanes off Somalia is at an all-time low, thanks largely to a heavy foreign naval presence.

A stable Somalia would boost regional economies like Kenya and Ethiopia which have been rattled by their neighbour's insecurity, and would reassure Western capitals which have long worried Somalia provides a base for militant Islam to flourish.

The British government said now is "the best time in a generation for Somalia to get back onto the road to recovery." Britain will host an international conference in London on May 7 on ways to bolster security, impose the rule of law and rebuild the nation.

At the new embassy, due to be fully operational from late July, diplomats will live and work for a few weeks at a time in rotation behind two big blast walls, squeezed between the airport runway on one side and the Indian Ocean on the other.

Presented by Adam Justice