Somali President Mohamud holds talks with Abiy in Addis Ababa

By AGGREY MUTAMBO

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on Wednesday arrived in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, completing a tour of his country’s neighbourhood since he was elected in May.

Mohamud was received at the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

And according to the PM, the Somali leader was welcome “to the land of origins,” as Ethiopia often refers to the earlier discoveries of fossils of ancient man on its soil.

This visit could signal warmer ties between them.

Ethiopia had been the only country Mohamud had not visited since winning the election. This raised eyebrows with people speculating on whether the two countries’ relations.

President Mohamud had toured Kenya, Djibouti, Eritrea, Tanzania, Uganda and Egypt, renewing ties on each of the occasions and clarifying some controversies.

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Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa on September 28, 2022. PHOTO | COURTESY | MFA ETHIOPIA

In Eritrea, for example, he visited because there had been a two-year controversy surrounding the nature of training of recruits for Somalia’s national army who had been taken to Asmara. The soldiers’ relatives claimed they had not spoken to their them since they went for the training.

For Ethiopia, the visit could readjust relations between the two countries in terms of security and Somalia’s stand on the use of the Nile.

In July, Somali militant group al-Shabaab breached Ethiopian defences for the first time, raiding a border town on the Ethiopian side. Ethiopian military rebuffed the group, but there had been damages left including deaths.

After Mohamud’s trip to Egypt in August, Somali government had to clarify it had not sided with Egypt on the Nile. The Egyptian presidency had quoted Mohamud as indicating that shared natural resources should not be unilaterally controlled.

Ethiopia, the biggest source of the Nile waters, has been embroiled in a dispute with Egypt and Sudan after it began constructing its Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD). Cairo has demanded an agreement on how to manage the filling of the dam, which Ethiopia has ignored, filled thrice and launched partial electricity production.

Somalia is not in the Nile Basin, but both Egypt and Ethiopia have continuously sought support from the region on their positions. Somalia and Ethiopia also have business deals to clarify.

For example, Somalia, under Mohamud’s predecessor Mohamed Farmaajo, authorised importation of miraa (khat) from Ethiopia and banned Kenyan exports. Mohamud has since allowed Kenya’s khat back on the Somali market.

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