Somalia tends to calm Djibouti over Ethiopia's AMISOM role

Monday February 04, 2019 - 20:19:24 in Latest News by Super Admin
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    Somalia tends to calm Djibouti over Ethiopia's AMISOM role

    MOGADISHU (Horn Observer / Horn Globe News) - Somali government sent its Parliament Speaker Mohamed Mursal to Djibouti for secret talks with the Djiboutian president, sources revealed, in what many say might be related to a fresh rivalry within AMIS

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Photo of the speaker of lower house of the parliament, Mohamed Mursal. (file Photo)
MOGADISHU (Horn Observer / Horn Globe News) - Somali government sent its Parliament Speaker Mohamed Mursal to Djibouti for secret talks with the Djiboutian president, sources revealed, in what many say might be related to a fresh rivalry within AMISOM troop contributing countries.

The details of the Djibouti talks remain sketchy; however initial reports said Somali government endeavored to clear suspicions drew by the Djiboutian side over the Ethiopian role in the new operations.
According to two Somali lawmakers and sources at the Speaker’s office, Mr. Mursal traveled to Djibouti secretly on Thursday in a bid to convince Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Geulleh to quit plan to pull Djibouti peacekeepers out of Somalia should Somali government insist favoring Ethiopian lead in African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

"The Speaker went to Djibouti. His trip was official but was kept secret to the media due to sensitivity.” said one Somali MP in Mogadishu.
A staff at the Speaker’s office confirmed that itinerary included Djibouti where he was due to meet President Guelleh to deliver a message from President Farmajo.

A second lawmaker familiar with the matter said the Speaker will clarify Mogadishu’s proposal of which it suggested putting all coordinated AMISOM operations against al-Shabaab under the Ethiopian commander.

Lawmakers state the source of in-house AMISOM conflict was related to the recent takeover of the Ethiopian general as new AMISOM Force Commander, alongside with proposed plans to setup a single command post for all AMISOM sectors under the Ethiopian man, a proposal already resisted by Djibouti and Uganda— the largest troop-contributing country which has about 5,000 soldiers in the mission.
‘Mission challenging’
Ethiopia itself has in the past turned down to assume AMISOM command unless its soldiers were deployed into Mogadishu.

"Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh notified his forces to remain their positions and not to follow orders from the new command, so this is a worrying signal given the fresh offensive to liberate besieged towns is on the table.” The lawmaker told our reporter.
 New AMISOM Force Commander. Lt. Gen. Tigabu Yilma Wondimhunegn from Ethiopia, took up office on Jan. 31, 2019. | PHOTO AMISOM
During the last week’s handover of instruments of command between outgoing Ugandan Gen. Jim Beesigye Owoyesigire and incoming Ethiopian General Tigabu Yilma Wondimhunegn, Francisco Caetano Madeira, the Special Representative of the African Union Commission Chairperson for Somalia and the Head of AMISOM highlighted that there was a work to be done.

"The task ahead is enormous, but I am very confident that you can do it.” he added.

"This Mission is a challenging one, but we are up to the task,” the incoming Force Commander Tigabu said on his part.

Ethiopia has over 4,200 soldiers serving as part of AMISOM but unspecified number of Ethiopia National Defense Force (ENDF) also operate in Somalia under "bilateral arrangements” between Mogadishu and Addis Ababa. 

And it is under these bilateral agreements which President Farmajo late last year used to extend new invitation to Ethiopian troops to fill in the gap and occupy places like Afgoye, Marka and Barawe as replacement for the Ugandan soldiers of the current Sector One.

Analysts warn that possible uprising against Ethiopians is again possible, since Ethiopia is regarded as traditional foe in Somalia, should the Ugandan and Djiboutian peacekeepers withdraw.
Ethiopian tank is seen as deadly Protests rock Baidoa following the arrest of Mukhtar Robow in Dec 13, 2018.

One practical example could be how AMISOM stumbled to clear its image after the Ethiopian soldiers in Baidoa apparently shot protestors following the December 14 arrest of Mukhtar Robow, a former al-Shabaab deputy and a candidate for South West State presidency.  

"If Djiboutian or Ugandan peacekeepers withdraw and Ethiopian troops arrive in Mogadishu, it could then cause the Somalis to fight against the Ethiopian peacekeepers,” a Mogadishu-based security analyst Ali Nur Mohamed said.
"Somalis will not trust Ethiopian soldiers.” Mohamed adds.

Longtime ally

President Guelleh, a longtime ally to Mogadishu has also seemed irritated by Somalia’s imperceptive support to Eritrea sanctions lift campaign led by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.  Before the sanctions were lifted in November, Djibouti released a strong statement saying that it was "wrong for Somalia to take a stance on the matter given that part of the reasons the sanctions had been imposed was Eritrean aggression on Djibouti”
 A Djiboutian soldier serving with AMISOM speaks with a colleague as a convoy of the Djiboutian Contingent drives past following an early morning foot patrol 18 November 2012 in the central Somali town of Belet Weyne in the Hiraan region, approx. 300km north west of the Somali capital Mogadishu. | PHOTO AMISOM

In a short visit to Djibouti August last year President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo sought to ease President Guelleh’s frustration but failure followed as the Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki hosted the Somali leader in Asmara. Eritrea has also mended all relations with Ethiopia and Somalia while ignoring Djibouti.
In another development, Mogadishu was angered by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s remarks during a televised speech to the Uganda Annual Judge's Conference last week (Jan. 28, 2019) where he proclaimed that "Somalia is not a state” and has no "organized authority.”

Somalia made official written complaint to Uganda, according to Foreign Minister Ahmed Isse Awad.  Mr. Awad later told local media that Museveni’s remarks were unwarranted and that Somalia addressed the matter through its appropriate channels.

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