Somalia’s President Sets New Condition for Talks with Regional Leaders

MOGADISHU (Somaliguardian) – Somalia’s president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo has set a new condition for electoral talks with regional presidents, days after the leaders of Puntland and Jubaland states arrived in Mogadishu in last-ditch efforts to end polls stalemate.

Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, whose term ended more than a month ago, said he would not meet with Puntland and Jubaland leaders at the heavily fortified Halane base camp, which is home to several international diplomatic missions including those of the United Nations, the African Union, UK and the United States.

Puntland and Jubaland leaders had earlier urged the meeting to be held at a safe place, raising security concerns over attending summit in areas under full control of president Farmajo’s forces.

The leader of the northeastern semi-autonomous region of Puntland said president Farmajo’s administration and Al-Shabaab were similar in the way they deal with opponents in a speech televised a few weeks ago, adding that he and Jubaland leader Ahmed Madobe feared to be poisoned during their stay in Mogadishu for talks with the Somali leader.

Halane is now the only place the two regional leaders consider as a safe place to escape possible attacks from the federal government amid simmering tensions over delayed elections and the growing presence of troops loyal to Somali president in the southwestern region of Gedo.

According to sources close to the Somali president including MPs, Farmajo ordered the three pro-government regional states of Galmudug, Hirshabelle and Southwest not to attend a summit with Puntland and Jubaland leaders and boycott electoral talks proposed to be held at the AMISOM garrisoned Halane base.

Farmajo is insisting that the talks be held at his residence in Mogadishu, arguing that attending the conference in Halane might tarnish his image as he long boasted about distancing himself from dictations by foreign diplomats at the camp, unlike his predecessors, the sources say.

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