Somalia engages 3rd US lobby firm amid travel ban and military aid cut

FILE: The US suspended food and fuel aid to the Somali National Army in Dec. 2017 over corruption concerns. Photo: AMISOM

President Mohamed Farmaajo has engaged a third US PR firm to lobby Washington for favourable treatment in light of the travel ban and US aid cut to the military at the cost $400,000 from this month to December.

Sonoran Policy Group, a Washington based advocacy firm this month inked the deal with Somali government for $100,000 a month through to December 1. The contract, seen by Goobjoog News assigns the SPG to lobby the Trump administration for reversal of the travel ban which lumped together Somali and five other Muslim countries.

The US Supreme Court in May upheld the travel ban paving way for Trump administration’s implementation of the ban which restricts travel by Somali citizens to the US.

“Represent the Federal Government of Somalia ad assist engagement with the Administration and U.S Congress to reverse the inclusion of Somalia in the travel ban countries,” the contract signed by Somalia ambassador to the US Abukar Osman this month reads in part.

MILITARY AID

President Farmaajo is also hoping the US advocacy firm can change minds in Washington over suspension of military aid to the National Army following a halt in December. The US announced the suspension of food and fuel aid to the army December after it emerged the military could not account for the funds allocated.

“We are adjusting U.S. assistance to SNA units, with the exception of units receiving some form of mentorship, to ensure that U.S. assistance is being used effectively and for its intended purpose,” a State Department official said told the media.

Among other activities the lobby firm is tasked with is facilitating President Farmaajo’s visit to the White House and meetings with senior Trump administration officials. Other areas of advice include on defense, security, counter terrorism and debt relief.

OTHER CONTRACTS

The new contract follows a similar one with another US firm, BGR Government Affairs signed in May this year. The Contract which started May 1 will run through 2019 at a cost of $35,000 per month. Under the terms of the contract, the US firm will represent Somalia before the Trump Administration, Congress, media and policy community.

In November last year, Farmaajo retained the US lobby group Park Strategies which he had engaged in 2011 when he was Prime Minister. Park Strategies entered into a $120,000 a year contract with the Federal Government early November.

“Park Strategies will provide strategic advice, counsel and advocacy to and on behalf of the Somali Republic in a collaborative effort to improve relations between the Somali Republic and the United States government,” the contract stipulates.

The contract which is expected to lapse in November also stipulated the Federal Government would reimburse the lobby firm owned by a Republican Alfonse Marcello D’Amato up to $36,000 in expenses such as travel and lodging.

 

 

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