April 16, 2024

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ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed and somali president

Meeting Between Ethiopian PM and Somalia’s President

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In recent developments, the diplomatic landscape in the Horn of Africa has been marked by intrigue, with a possible meeting between Ethiopian Prime Minister (PM) Abiy Ahmed and Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh on the horizon. The New York Times shed light on a telephone conversation between the two leaders that transpired just a day before the controversial Memorandum of Understanding (AMU) between Ethiopia and Somaliland was signed.

The contents of the conversation, initiated by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, remain shrouded in mystery. While the AMU signing on January 1st grabbed headlines, the behind-the-scenes discussion between the Ethiopian PM and Somalia’s President adds a layer of complexity to the ongoing diplomatic dynamics. Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed conveyed information solely about the upcoming visit of Somaliland’s President, Muse Bihi. During this conversation, the Ethiopian PM did not disclose the impending signing of the AMU with Somaliland.

This revelation raises crucial questions about the transparency of communication between Ethiopia and Somalia. The deliberate omission of such a significant development hints at a diplomatic chess game, leaving observers to speculate on the true motives behind the secrecy.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s Persistent Outreach

PM Abiy Ahmed has expressed a consistent interest in meeting with President Hassan Sheikh, underscoring the importance of open dialogue in resolving regional tensions. During the African Union Summit, PM Abiy Ahmed revealed his attempts to contact Hassan Sheikh directly. However, facing unresponsiveness from the Somali leader, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy sought mediation from other African leaders, including Kenyan President William Ruto, Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar, and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

The potential meeting in Kenya, where both leaders are currently present, raises speculation about the role of Kenyan President William Ruto as a mediator. While no official confirmation has been released regarding the meeting, the convergence of these leaders in Nairobi opens avenues for diplomatic engagement.

Challenges for President Hassan Sheikh

For President Hassan Sheikh, the decision to engage in talks with PM Abiy poses a significant challenge. Amid accusations from Al-Shabab of a covert alliance with Ethiopia and opposition politicians ready to criticize any diplomatic engagement, Hassan Sheikh must navigate a precarious political landscape.

The international community, including the United Nations and the African Union, has consistently called for dialogue while respecting Somalia’s sovereignty. However, the domestic political climate in Somalia complicates matters, making it difficult for Hassan Sheikh to agree to a meeting that might be perceived as compromising national interests.

Though Somalia’s President is visiting Kenya to attend a UN summit on the environment, he is likely to hold various meetings on the sidelines of this summit.

As the world watches these diplomatic maneuvers, the outcomes of a potential meeting between Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy and President Hassan Sheikh are crucial to shaping the relationship between Ethiopia and Somalia and the broader regional dynamics in the Horn of Africa.

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