AT LAST, BRIEFLY IN ADDIS ABEBA




Since the final days of Mohammed Siad Barre in the early 1990s, Addis Abeba remains a major congregation for Somalian politicians from Abdiqasim Salad Hassan, the fifth president, to Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the eighth president from Peace & Development Party. The incumbent Mohamed Abdullahi, a.k.a Farmajo, appeared to have broken the tradition, first visiting Saudi Arabia followed by Kenya, Turkey and two other countries, immediately after his election to the presidency representing the Tayo Party, in February 2017. The party`s name, literally translated as quality, was formed in 2012, during the brief period Abdullahi served as prime minister under Sheikh Mohamud`s presidency.

Known as a populist and nationalist politician, Abdullahi may have shunned Addis Abeba to send a signal to his Diaspora supporters, a community he once belonged to, how far he can keep his distance from a country that is seen influencing politics in Mogadishu, according to Somalia pundits. At last, and three months into office, he visited Addis Abeba mid last week, where he met Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in his office. Mainly focusing on requests for assistance in capacity building efforts of law enforcement, security and the military in his country, in their fight against the Al-Shabab, Abdullahi hammered the issues of “mutual respect” and “mutual understanding” between the two countries, according to diplomatic sources. But beyond the usual niceties in conversations, it was during an official reception at the Jubilee Palace he was told the sudden death of his youngest minister in Mogadishu on the night of May 3, 2017.

“It was the Ethiopian officials who were informed of the incident first,” said a personal involved in Somalia affair. “They had told Somalia`s security chief travelling with the President. It was the security chief who whispered the news in the ears of the President, reminiscent of how former US President George Bush was told the attack on September 9.” Abass Abdullahi Sheikh Siraji, the 31-year old minister for Public Work & Construction, was shot dead accidentally by security details of another government officials, in Mogadishu. Siraji was travelling in a car when security team of the country`s Auditor General, Nur Farah, opened fire allegedly mistaken him for a suicide bomber. He grew up in a refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya, where he did his university studies in Nairobi.

President Abdullahi cut his visit in Addis Abeba short to return to Mogadishu. Attending the funeral the following day, the President ordered investigations to uncover the incident.



Published on May 08,2017 [ Vol 17 ,No 889]


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