#MogadishuThisWeek: Of photo op monopoly, bromance in Nairobi and unyielding rumour mill

By T. Roble

Political storm brews, former presidents vexed, President and Prime Minister airborne as UN lambastes Villa Somalia for splashing thousands of dollars for election bribes while millions languished in hunger. Farmaajo meets Kenyatta.

It was a high-octane week characterized by bitter feuds between the Federal Government and Opposition amid stand-off over who had the ‘monopoly over knee-deep photo ops’ in the floods ravaged town of Beletweyne as one Twitter user put.

But it was a little more serious than just a photo opportunity. Former Presidents Sheikh Sharif Ahmed and Hassan Sheikh Mohamud described their successor Mohamed Farmaajo and his Prime Minister Hassan Khaire as given to ‘lies, intimidation and of bad manners’.

It was no doubt the Government was out to test the limits of the opposition groups and they did establish that elastic limit- former president Sheikh Shariff swore not once but three times that just like rogue elements before-moryaans (hardcore criminals) warlords and Al-Shabaab, this government could face a similar fate ‘if it didn’t stop its intimidations.’

But Farmaajo and Khaire were no audience to such talk. They hoped into planes and one headed to Paris as the other crossed over to Kenya-for official business of course. In Paris, Khaire told donors their money would make more difference if channeled through the government and not NGOs.

DOLLARS FOR BRIBES NOT FOOD

But even as the opposition issued statements and called for public inquiry, another bombshell was heading towards Villa Somalia. The UN Panel of Experts (which Villa Somalia treats with disdain) was presenting the Villa occupants as mortals with little regard for humanity but out to fight for their political interests. A total of 82 South West MPs were flown to Mogadishu last December to receive $5000 each ahead of the state elections, the report released by the UN Security Council said. The state legislators were further handed between $2000 and $3000 after the elections adding to over $600,000. One only hopes the MPs flew in and returned at their own cost!

A debt of $5.8 million owed by Jubba Airways to Somali Government had mysteriously disappeared, the report also noted. Officials at Ethiopia’s military company METEC told PoE it had always dealt with Puntland and Somaliland as ‘sovereign states’ therefore not violating the arms embargo for the ten years it supplied weapons.

FARMAAJO MEETS KENYATTA

Perhaps the much-anticipated development was the meeting between Presidents Mohamed Farmajo and Uhuru Kenyatta. The rumour mill almost broke down in Mogadishu as speculations and conspiracy theories of every manner darted the city. Farmaajo has gone to surrender to Uhuru, the UNFPA conference is just a scapegoat, the Americans have brokered a deal and Farmaajo has agreed to let off 65% of the disputed territory. Keeping up with the mill was no mean feat.

Finally, Farmaajo and Kenyatta emerged, all smiles, donning a new bromance after months of simmering tensions. There was no mention of the maritime case. Farmaajo just said he hoped the case would not jeorpadise relations between the two countries. Kenyatta went mum about it. Messages however seemed to be trapped between interpretation and intent. While Kenyans (Foreign Affairs and later State House) suggested Farmaajo had softened towards a ‘mutual settlement’, Somalis on the other hand vehemently pushed back noting ‘ICJ case remains intact’.

But importantly, the two countries restored relations after months of icy ties. Direct flights will resume in a week and Somalis will now obtain visas in Kenyan airports upon arrival.

The Americans held a meeting with both Farmaajo and Uhuru Wednesday night and something was agreed, the mill insists. Perhaps we will get to know that next week.

Have a rumour-free weekend ahead.

 

 

 

 

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