Ethiopia: Somali President Visits Ethiopia

Submitted on Thu, 05/25/2017 - 11:44

Somalia's new president, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, was to visit Ethiopia on Wednesday in a much-anticipated meeting aimed at smoothing over decades of mistrust. Farmajo has been criticised for waiting three months before going to Addis Ababa.

The Ethiopia trip is by far the most important visit abroad that President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo will make and it is also the most difficult, says Gérard Prunier, a French historian specialising in the Horn of Africa.

Farmajo has visited five other countries, including Kenya, beforehand.

"He didn't have the guts to go there first," Prunier told RFI by phone on Tuesday.

"Since it's going to be a controversial visit with difficult circumstances, difficult dialogue, he probably postponed it until he felt it was absolutely necessary."

Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo beat the odds to become Somalia's ninth president on 8 February, campaigning on a platform to defeat the Al Shabaab armed group and improve security.

Yet he almost did not make it to the presidency due to meddling from the Ethiopian government.

"The Ethiopian government backed a different candidate, so there was speculation that the new Somali president may actually be hostile to Ethiopia, a regional country with a military presence in Somalia," Rashid Abdi, Horn of Africa Director at the International Crisis Group in Nairobi told RFI.