The handing over of the presidency
In a what many described as a warm and colourful ceremony, president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud took over the presidency from President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmaajo on the 23rd of May, a mere eight days after he won a close presidential race. This handover was particularly noteworthy given the animosity between the two statesmen in the past five years. However, they were all smiles and made warm remarks about each other at the ceremony.
President Mohamud who became the first president to ever re-elected to the presidency said, “I am sure we are going to have President Farmaajo around. I hope we can benefit from his counsel and experience”.
As Somalia enjoys 22 years of peaceful transfer of power, a feat not many African nations can boast about, this handover helped ease a long-held suspicion that President Farmaajo will not easily leave power.
Somali troops in Eritrea
During the handover ceremony President Farmaajo, for the first time, acknowledged the existence of 5,000 Somali troops in Eritrea. VOA’s Harun Maruf reported that These troops are believed to have been airlifted to Eritrea between August 2019 and June 2020. They were scheduled to be returned by September 2021 but was delayed due to undisclosed diplomatic issue.
It was reported that these Somali troops took part in Ethiopia’s Tigray war, but so far these claims could not be independently verified and the Somali government denied that its troops fought in Tigray. Parents of these troops staged multiple protests and were at times shot at to disperse their gatherings.
Unsurprisingly, questions have already arose from President Farmaajo’s acknowledgment of the existence of these troops in Eritrea. For instance, the parents want to know why did the Somali government keep the issue secret if there is no funny business involved? And why are they still unable to contact their sons?
President Mohamud could, once and for all, clarify this and give answers or closure to these parents who spent literally years asking for answers.
The Suspension of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
On the 24th of May, the Prime Minister Mr. Mohamed Hussein Roble suspended the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Abdisaid M. Ali, for the alleged illegal authorisation of the release of a ship carrying charcoal that was illegally exported from Somalia. The ship was believed to be detained in Oman. The Minister’s alleged orders to release the ship is in violation of international sanctions as it is part of arms embargo by the United Nations Security Council that bans the exportation of charcoal. The Prime Minister also nullified the Minister’s initial order to release the ship. No details are given about the status of the ship or for how long it has been detained in Oman.
Mr Ali was a close ally of the immediate former President Farmaajo and served as a National Security Advisor, a Villa Somalia Chief of Staff, and a Foreign Minister in the past five years. As such, given Mr. Roble’s icy relationship with his former boss, the Minister’s dismissal was controversial. Many argue that the nullification of his orders was enough, and the Prime Minister should not have sacked the Minister as this action might cause a further disharmony among the already two feuding camps. This argument is supported by the fact that Mr. Roble’s government has a limited time in office as President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud will appoint a new Prime Minister making the sacking of the Minister rather redundant.
For Somalia to go past the toxic political atmosphere that surrounded it in the past five years, and for President Mohamud’s vision (Somalia at peace with itself and with the world) to come true, his administration must rise above pity politics and become a truly inclusive, mature, and welcoming administration.