Mogadishu (UM) – There was confusion caused by miscommunication and fake news from even reputable national and international news sources regarding President Farmajo’s meeting with President Uhuru in Nairobi a few days ago to discuss the two countries bilateral relations after a tense few weeks of disputes over the Maritime border.
The meeting confused many Somalis because they thought their President was only going to Ethiopia for a state visit and not Kenya. But President Farmajo was persuaded by Prime Minister Abiy, the self styled peacemaker of the region, to go with him to Nairobi and meet the Kenyan president to discuss bilateral relations, including the maritime case according to Ethiopian and Kenyan press reports. This is not a crime because leaders must meet, discuss and cooperate for stability and their own national and regional interests. But what president Farmajo should have done is returned to Mogadishu before going straight from one bilateral meeting to another unplanned one at this sensitive time. He should have also asked for the meeting to be held in Mogadishu since Kenya was the aggressor. These mistakes and the unclear tweets of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia and the headlines of Kenyan press reports provided ammunition for the opposition to falsely accuse the president of negotiating with Kenya over Somalia’s maritime territory and reaching a secret agreement to resolve the dispute through diplomatic channels. This was clearly wrong according to the angry and disappointed Kenyan newspaper headlines today which said President Farmajo “dug in” with his official refusal to negotiate with Kenya on the maritime border dispute. Good for him and the Somali people.
Somalia’s maritime resources are a sensitive topic and the case against Kenya at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has made the situation worse. Everybody is on high alert and must be this way to fight off a predatory Kenyan government trying every trick in the book to bully, intimidate and rob Somalia. So, what must Somalis do?
Somalis must start by trusting their President. He may be very quite and poor communicator but he is not crazy enough to go against the public will to defend every inch of Somalia’s maritime boundary. The President was brave enough to stand by his position by not negotiating with Kenya despite the pressure from Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Uhuru Kenyatta. The President even won a small diplomatic victory by getting Kenya to agree to re-send their Ambassador to Mogadishu while he sends his own one to Nairobi. For these reasons, the Somali people and their politicians must stand united with their President. Any division now hurts the Somali case at the International Court of Justice which is strong.
The President must communicate better and more directly with the public to win their trust and support. Fake news is born out of bad communications and public relations. The public have a right to know what their government is discussing and negotiating with Foreign partners like Kenya because it will have an impact on their lives and future. President Farmajo must break the silence and reach out to his people. He must be the champion the country needs to defend it’s natural resources and develop more quickly. President Farmajo must step out and step up: the dispute with Kenya to save Somalia’s maritime resources is only beginning.