Somali President meets AU chief after rejecting John Mahama appointment
The meeting comes just days after Farmajo reportedly rejected the appointment of former Ghanaian President John Mahama as High Representative for AUC in Somalia.
Embattled Somalia’s outgoing President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo on Wednesday held a closed-door meeting with African Union Commission [AUC] chair Moussa Faki in Uganda, in what could have possibly focused on the current electoral impasse in Somalia, which has ultimately reached boiling point.
Also present in the meeting was Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who was sworn in for the sixth official term on Wednesday, and an enthusiast of the Somali peacekeeping mission, given that Kampala has slightly over 4,000 soldiers in the Horn of Africa nation.
The meeting comes just days after Farmajo reportedly rejected the appointment of former Ghanaian President John Mahama as High Representative for AUC in Somalia. Moussa Faki made the appointment last week as an urgent step towards reconciliation in Somalia.
A source told Garowe Online that at the meeting, Farmajo informed the African Union of the decision in a recent letter from Villa Somalia of rejecting the new envoy to Somalia. The Source also said the International Partners in Somalia are awaiting the outcome of the meetings.
It’s not clear what Moussa Faki told the embattled president but in the past, the union has maintained that the Somalia crisis deserves global attention. The country is under pressure from the international community to implement September 17 pre-election deal which Farmajo had attempted to discard.
Before Villa Somalia rejected Mahama’s appointment, the opposition had expressed concerns over the inclusion of Babatunde Taiwo, the AMISOM political advisor in the mediation team. The AU responded by withdrawing Taiwo’s name according to multiple sources.
In a letter dated May 9 which was sent to Moussa Faki through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Somalia, The Federal Government of Somalia questions Mahama’s impartiality, alleging that he has an “extensive link” with Kenya’s leadership.
Somalia and Kenya have been having a hot and cold relationship in the recent past and even after the normalization of ties last week, Kenya responded by suspending direct flights to Mogadishu. This is related to Somalia’s refusal to lift the ban imposed on Miraa importation.
“Instead of asking AU help and then questioning the AU envoy’s integrity — before he even begins his duty because of perceived but unsubstantiated bias — the government could’ve invited him to Mogadishu and then tell him we sorted out our issues?” wondered Abdirashid Hashi, a former Executive Director of Heritage Institute of Policy Studies [HIPS].
“Farmajo’s rejection of the AU envoy is an indication of his intention to derail the 20 May submit of electoral discussion. Farmajo has always been a spoiler and will remain one until the last day. It’s a chance for PM Roble to show that he is free from Farmajo’s negative influence,” added Wadajir party leader Abdirahman Abdishakur.
Somalia is keen to push for an internally-driven process through Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble, but critics argue blocking of African Union envoy would be a strategy to further derail polls in the country. The envoy was expected to travel to Somalia immediately.
“The appointment of John Mahama is not at Villa Somalia’s request. And it is not for Somalia to refuse. It is a decision of the AU Peace and Security Council – the continent’s top decision-making organ on conflict. Blocking him will meet with the decisive response, am sure,” says Rashid Abdi.
In Uganda, Farmajo also met Burundi President Evariste Ndayishimiye, a critical player in Somalia’s peace-building process. Burundi has several troops in Somalia under the AMISOM team who are also working under Lieutenant General Diomede Ndegeya, the Force Commander who hails from Bujumbura.