Since the President of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, left on a blitz, hastily organized trip to Ethiopia, Tuesday, flying the same day to Nairobi, Kenya, in the company of the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, mixed reactions surfaced.
At the end of a quick, cosmetic meeting Prime Minister held for President Fasrmajo, obviously for media purposes and to douse down the growing suspicions of the Somalia public, the office of the prime minister stated that the two sides discussed ‘mechanisms to ensure Kenya-Somali relations are strengthened; continuation of joint port development; and ensuring that relations with the administration of Somaliland support regional peace.’
In another statement, the PM, however, stated the actual objective behind the invitation he extended to Somalia President, stating ‘Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is paying special attention to reconciling the differences that have emerged between Somalia and Kenya as the current Chair of IGAD.
“During the official visit of President Kenyatta and Abdullahi Mohamed to Ethiopia, Prime Minister Abiy also hosted long consultations with each of the leaders to facilitate the first face to face discussion in a long time. It is expected that the mediated meeting between the two countries will ease tensions that have been building.”
In other words, the Prime Minister was desirous to effect a quick, albeit shallow rapport, between the Presidents of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, and Somalia, Mohamed Abdullahi ‘Farmajo’.
Together the two flew to Kenya the same day, Tuesday.
PM Abiy Tweeted of a Wednesday morning meeting between Kenyatta and Farmajo which he chaired:
Through the leadership of PM Abiy Ahmed, @UKenyatta & @M_Farmaajo met this morning to discuss extensively on the source of the two countries dispute. As an outcome both agreed to work towards peace & to take measures in addressing particular issues that escalated the tensions. pic.twitter.com/vRrtjPp3zF
— Office of the Prime Minister – Ethiopia (@PMEthiopia) March 6, 2019
The Somalia Foreign Ministry said nothing about the outcome. Neither did President Farmajo, himself.
Villa Somalia, the President’s official Twitter mouthpiece, however, denied that the two sides discussed anything relating to the ‘source of the two countries’ dispute’ as PM Abiy Ahmed stated.
So the question arose: What was the point of their discussion, then?
According to Villa Somalia, the meeting side-skirted the explosive, core maritime oil issue but, instead, settled on talk of ‘restoring diplomatic relations’
Ajandaha wada hadalladan ayaa ku koobnaa xal u helista mugdiga diblomaasiyadeed, Madaxweynayaashuna waxa ay ku heshiiyeen in dib loo soo celiyo, lana xoojiyo xiriirka iyo iskaashiga labada dowladood, kaasoo ku dhisan is ixtiraam iyo wada shaqeyn.
— Villa Somalia (@TheVillaSomalia) March 6, 2019
Critics found a field day.
“That President Farmajo pays an unannounced visit to a country that has, on the same day, unceremoniously kicked out its envoy recalling, on the same breath, its Ambassador to Somalia without consulting with any of the major government organs is outright treason,” a member of the opposition said.
Abdirahman Abdishakur scoffed at Villa Somalia’s Tweet that nothing was said about the maritime dispute at the meeting between the two sides, as PM Abiy revealed.
The opposition leader smelled a rat in the room.
“It is an insult and a gross violation to public intelligence that Villa Somalia claims an agreement was reached by Kenya and Somalia without touching on the core, contentious issue,” he said.
“The President.” he said, “must reveal the truth about the meetings he was led to in Addis Ababa and Nairobi”.
Another point of discussion revolved around the fact that Farmajo did not insist on meeting the Kenyan President on neutral ground, say Ethiopia. He was there, after all, only a day earlier.
“It is a disgrace to Somali dignity that Farmajo is led to an enemy den docile as a lamb,” another critic said. Most Somalis interpreted that fact as an act odd treason where others pointed out the President needed to be reminded that he was, in fact, a president and not the head of an NGO called ‘Somalia’.
In Nairobi, President Farmajo, himself, looked forlorn and left out at a show that could have been his to lead, looking on as Kenyata and Abiy warmly embrace and talk of mutual interests cordially, sharing jokes, showing respect for one another.
Tweets opined the rest. None of them kind or approving.
Has Farmajo committed an act of national treason?????????? pic.twitter.com/e9VZmg7GNH
— Somalilandstandard (@somalilandinfo1) March 6, 2019
Isn’t this just noise unless anything changes with the ICJ case? Did Kenya explain its Fafaduun withdrawal that let Shabaab take over? https://t.co/YlmuRqrpoC
— Somablog (@SomaliaNewsroom) March 6, 2019
Their Excellencies President @M_Farmaajo and President @UKenyatta agreed on stregthening diplomatic ties between the two countries. They also agreed to have their respective ambassadors return to each country's mission to resume their important duties. Cooperation and Partnership pic.twitter.com/TlPoRzd8TB
— Abdinur (@AbdinurMA) March 6, 2019
Farmaajo will accept AN OUT OF COURT SETTLEMENT surrendering 45% of Somali maritime territory to #Kenya. This act of treason will not be accepted & it is not worth of the paper that Farmaajo, @PMEthiopia & @UKenyatta will sign.#Farmaajoisatraitor #Mogadishu #Puntland #NFD pic.twitter.com/ITXzt1HT34
— Mukhtar Ainashe (@mukhtarainashe) March 5, 2019
I dare say #VilliaSomalia will be stormed with brutal military force & violence if Farmaajo surrenders Somali territory to #Kenya. He will be deposed & arrested on national treason charges. He should apply political asylum in Kenya! #Farmaajoisatraitor #Mogadishu #Puntland #NFD pic.twitter.com/BoZt2NMKMN
— Mukhtar Ainashe (@mukhtarainashe) March 5, 2019