By T. Roble
President Mohamed Farmaajo has publicly spoken for the first time about the controversial Berbera Tripartite agreement which has now spiraled into a diplomatic row, sternly warning against ‘underhand dealings’ bent on jeopardizing the country’s sovereignty.
Addressing a joint sitting of Federal Parliament as he officiated the opening of the third session, President Farmaajo said the country was open to business ‘but only within the confines of law’.
“Somalia is open for business and global partnerships,” the President said. “Anyone who wants to invest in Somalia must get approval from state institutions.”
Without making direct reference to the recent agreement between Somaliland and Emirati ports operator DP World granting Ethiopia 19% stake in Berbera Port, the president warned countries and companies ‘against infringing on the country’s sovereignty.
“I am warning countries and companies against crossing the limit to interfere with the sovereignty of and unity of Somalia.” Speaking in the wake of an ensuing diplomatic row with United Arab Emirates over the Berbera port deal, the President also sounded a warning against those who ‘wish to take advantage thinking Somalia is weak.”
A smear campaign against the President and Somalia went online end week few days after the chairman of Emirati government owned DP World Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem asked Mogadishu to keep off the deal adding, ‘Somaliland is an independent state and can enter into agreements without seeking clearance from the Federal Government.
The Arab League ministerial conference Friday quoted from the conventional diplomatic script of ‘territorial integrity and independence of member states’ following Somalia’s petition in light of the Berbera port pact.
But Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmed Awad said in a radio interview Saturday a third country which he did not name had volunteered to mediate.
The President also told lawmakers converging at General Kaahiye Police Academy in Mogadishu the Government would be resuming talks with Somaliland soon but did not indicate timelines. “We will soon begin negotiations with Somaliland,” Farmaajo said. “Somali people are brothers and we will solve any conflict through dialogue.”
But coming amidst the Berbera port row, build up for the talks could face a rough terrain as relations between Mogadishu and Hargeisa go sour. Somaliland President Muse Bihi sounded defiant Friday warning Somaliland was committed to defending its legitimacy.
President Farmaajo also sounded upbeat about his administration’s performance noting for once civil servants now receive salaries through their bank accounts cutting off chances of corruption.
He also added Somalia was making headways towards the Horn of Africa trade bloc being spearheaded by countries in the region in addition to joining the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). The country has also submitted its application to join the East African Community, the president observed.