Somalia’s Opposition Leader Snubs Meeting with Qatari Envoy


MOGADISHU (Somaliguardian) – Somalia’s opposition leader Sharif Sheikh Ahmed has refused again to meet with a Qatari envoy in Mogadishu, who has been holding talks with rival leaders in the capital where clashes took place last week, forcing tens of thousands of residents to flee their neighborhoods.

Sharif earlier rebuffed meeting with an envoy sent by Qatar’s emir on Sunday, though members of an alliance of opposition presidential candidates accepted the invitation. On Tuesday, he has again snubbed talks with the envoy Mutlaq bin Majed Al Qahtani, who had been dispatched to mediate a dispute over Somalia’s elections.

According to opposition figures, whom we are not naming, the main Somali opposition leader accused Qatar of willfully supporting outgoing president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo’s term extension and attacks on his critics.

Doha has long been accused funneling illegal funds to Somalia’s government through the powerful national intelligence chief Fahad Yasin, many of which were allegedly used to silence critics either by police raids or online smear campaigns.

Mr Ahmed, who had also served as president between 2009 and 2012, asked why Qatar was silent when opposition figures were writing to international partners to immediately intervene in the country’s political crisis. He said Doha has yet to condemn an extension of outgoing president’s term and recent violence in Mogadishu that was spurred by attacks on residences of opposition leaders.

Puntland and Jubaland leaders have also refused to arrive in the capital Mogadishu to meet with Al Qahtani, whose visit is seen as one Doha is seeking to maintain its influence in the Horn of Africa nation’s politics as it comes before African Union envoy is scheduled to arrive to broker a deal between rival groups to end long-simmering pre-election tensions.

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