In preparation for the projected 2020 elections for the Presidency, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed ‘Farmajo’, the incumbent president of the Federal Government of Somalia, has renounced his US citizenship in a surprise stunt to turn waning attention to himself once more.

The Somalia Constitution permits that one can hold dual citizenship, be loyal to two different nations and yet be a President of one – a situation that short-serves the latter’s interest in most cases.

President Farmajo came aboard a US citizen and has held on to the passport until today, using it to keep US interest focused on Somalia.

The move, analysts state, is designed to put his co-partner in the leadership, Prime Minister Hassan Ali Kheyrre, at a tight spot. Hassan also holds a US citizenship and has made it known that he, too, was going to run for the presidency in 2020.

Kheyrre has, observers contend, been consolidating his popularity lead on his boss, the President, over the past two years virtually projecting that he and not Farmajo was holding the worn-out threads of the government together. He was the one who negotiated with federal states leaders often – albeit dishonestly – allaying their concerns, promising each what they wanted most.

Not only Somali nationals but international Somalia-watchers, too, had been pointing out that Kheyrre had, in fact, taken over the government in a silent coup and Farmajo was a dead duck as far as public regard was concerned.

The renouncement, strangely to many, comes at less than two since an attempt on his life was made on SRSG James Swan, another US citizen, which many had linked to higher government channels. The entry of a suicide bomber into a highly secure compound at the Mayor’s office could only have been facilitated by people in power, many argued.

Farmajo, it is reported, was at loggerheads with the Mayor/Governor who succumbed to critical injuries he sustained ta the bombing since then, either.

Another theory says that the President has been seared by US heat on his citizenship, and why he was dodging the Advisory which required US citizens to declare whether they still wanted to retain their citizenship after assuming a policy-level responsibility at a foreign state. President Farmajo, along with Kheyrre, assumed the two top offices in federal Somalia in early 2017.

President Farmajo, by revoking his US citizenship, cannot be arraigned in a US court in crimes against humanity, corruption, money-laundering and the like. One may remember that his government was accused of heavy-handedness and the killing of civilians on a number of occasions foremost among which was killing demonstrators in Baidoa on the pretext that troops were capturing Mukhtar Roobow and had, later, to quell ‘violent riots’ to ‘preempt’ more violence.


Advice About Possible Loss of U.S. Nationality and Seeking Public Office in a Foreign State

A U.S. national’s employment, after attaining the age of 18, with the government of a foreign country or a political subdivision thereof is a potentially expatriating act pursuant to Section 349(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act if the individual is a citizen of that foreign country or takes an oath of allegiance to that country in connection with such employment. Such employment, however, will result in one’s expatriation only if done voluntarily with the intention of relinquishing U.S. citizenship.Running for foreign office, even foreign head of state, is not a potentially expatriating act; only accepting, serving in, or performing the duties of a foreign office are potentially expatriating as described above. 

The Department has adopted an administrative presumption that U.S. nationals intend to retain their U.S. citizenship when they naturalize as nationals of a foreign state, declare their allegiance to a foreign state, or accept non-policy level employment with a foreign government. See 22 CFR 50.40(a); see also 7 FAM 1200 (additionally applying the presumption to serving as an officer in the military forces of a foreign state not engaged in hostilities against the United States). Questions concerning whether a foreign government position is a policy-level position should be referred to the Office of Legal Affairs for Overseas Citizens Services.

U.S. nationals employed in non-policy level positions with foreign governments are not required to take any action to retain their U.S. nationality if they wish to retain it because the Department presumes that U.S. nationals employed in such positions do not have the requisite intent to relinquish their U.S. nationality. An individual who is employed in a non-policy level position will only lose his/her U.S. nationality if he or she establishes clearly and credibly, by a preponderance of the evidence, an intent to relinquish U.S. nationality upon assuming or serving in such foreign government employment. 

In cases where U.S. nationals are employed in policy-level positions, the Department of State will seek to ascertain the individual’s intent to retain or relinquish his or her U.S. nationality upon accepting the policy level position with a foreign government. An individual assuming such a position who wishes to retain U.S. nationality should state clearly to the Department or post that he or she intended to retain U.S. nationality. An individual assuming such a position who wishes to relinquish U.S. nationality may come to Post and follow the required steps to complete the Certificate of Loss of Nationality application process.

Cases involving service of a U.S. national as a foreign head of state, head of government, or foreign minister raise complex questions of international law and are reviewed by the Department on a case by case basis. Serving as a foreign head of state/government or foreign minister may affect the level of immunity from U.S. jurisdiction that a dual national may be afforded. All such cases should be referred to the Office of the Assistant Legal Adviser for Consular Affairs.

Last Updated: March 12, 2019