MOGADISHU (Somaliguardian) – Somalia’s outgoing president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo has refused to attend the inauguration of neighboring Djibouti’s reelected president Ismail Omar Guelle as diplomatic relations between the countries are at their lowest point in decades.
Farmajo told his advisors on Friday that he will not be attending Guelle’s inauguration ceremony due to a recent report by a Djibouti-led IGAD fact-finding mission deployed to the border between Somalia and Kenya in which the team allegedly sided with Nairobi, an official at the Somali presidential palace has told Somaliguardian on Saturday.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of being identified, he stressed that the president also tried to dissuade his prime minister Mohamed Hussein Roble from traveling to Djibouti to participate in the ceremony.
The prime minister flew to Djibouti on Friday in defiance of the outgoing president’s suggestion, citing Ismail Omar Guelle’s long-existing ties with the Somali government and role in laying the foundation stone for its reestablishment after the military regime led by Mohamed Siad Barre collapsed in the early 1990s.
Djibouti has thousands of troops in Somalia, who are part of the African Union peacekeeping mission and the fight against the Al-Qaeda-aligned Islamist group Al-Shabaab which controls large swathes of territory in the country and continues more than a decade-long insurgency war to unseat the western-backed government in Mogadishu.
It is unclear if the frosty relations with Mogadishu could affect presence of Djiboutian forces in Somalia or whether this could help the opposition politicians to bring an end to Farmajo’s stay in power, though efforts to hold delayed elections have yet to gather pace.
Djibouti has recently denied allegations by the Somali government that it took side on a long-simmering border row between the two Horn of Africa countries, in what the opposition decries as an effort to gain popular support for the outgoing president to win a second term by portraying Nairobi as an enemy aiming to annex Somalia’s restive southern regions.
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