Somalia’s Foreign Policy is to fix itself first – UM

President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and Minister for Foreign Affairs Ahmed Awad/File Photo: Villa Somalia

Mogadishu (UM) – Much has been made of the news that President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmaajo will not be attending the UN General Assembly (UNGA) starting in New York this week. Instead, his office claims that he will remain in Mogadishu to resolve domestic crisis which poses great challenges to the unity of Somalia. The President will be represented by the Foreign Minister Ahmed Awad, who will deliver the President’s speech on his behalf.

The UNGA is the premier diplomatic stage where global leaders boast of their countries successes, contributions to world peace and, in the case of Somalia, reiterate their nations progress and need for more international community support. The former Foreign Minister Abdusalam Omer, famously said in his speech at UNGA on behalf of the former President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, “Somalia is turning the corner” and the world can assume it still is. Well, this is no doubt the message the Foreign Minister will deliver.

President Farmaajo has made the right call to remain at home and fix the serious fractured politics of Somalia. The President needs to resolve the differences between the federal government and the federal member states, he needs to be alert to a potential Motion of No Confidence against his unpopular Prime Minister and ensure the security sector reforms are on target for the transition his government seeks to make from AMISOM for the responsibility of keeping Somalia and its people safe. The first priority of any Foreign Policy is strong Government at home and since this does not yet exist, it is fine to leave the grovelling of the UNGA to those with more time on their hands and little to do like Minister Ahmed Awad.

The President has every Diplomatic Mission he needs and that matters in Mogadishu or Nairobi and is able to speak to them about Somalia’s progress and needs at will. The Somali Embassies across the globe, are weak, poorly staffed and led as they are, can also reach out to key partners to advance Somalia’s Foreign Policy agenda. Moreover, Somalia does not yet have the regional security, economic or political clout to make a difference on the international stage. Whatever is said by the Foreign Minister on behalf of the President will likely be aspirational rather than implementable actions to take forward on an immediate basis. Whatever has also been achieved that maybe mentioned, will be for the sake of Somalia and Somalis alone like working on completing the constitutional process, fixing the financial system and defeating Al-Shabaab. Therefore, nobody should waste any precious time worrying about the implications of President Farmaajo missing UNGA. He is doing more for Somalia by remaining at home to fix the broken politics than being in New York.