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Somalia Accuses UAE of Promoting Political Standoff and Violent Protest

Somalia's President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed addresses the United Nations General Assembly at United Nations headquarters, Sept. 26, 2019, in New York.

Somalia has accused the United Arab Emirates of fueling a political stand-off and opposition protests that are threatening the African nation’s stability. The tensions stem from Somalia’s delayed elections and a controversy over the president’s legitimacy.

The federal government of Somalia says the United Arab Emirates is to blame for political instability in the wake of a violent protest by opposition leaders last week.

Authorities in Mogadishu were responding to an Emirati Foreign Ministry statement that described the government of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed as an interim administration.

Somali elections have been delayed by squabbles among political leaders as the president’s term officially expired on February 8th. Some opposition groups have called on Mohamed, who is commonly known as Farmajo, to step aside, but he has continued to carry out the duties of office.

Information Minister Osman Dubbe demanded Abu Dhabi issue an apology.

Dubbe said his country is recuperating from violence and does not want to take the path of conflict again and therefore calls upon the brotherly state of Emirates to apologize for the mistake.

Emirati officials have not responded to the accusations.

The Somali opposition groups, through their chairman and presidential candidate Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, said they will continue their demonstrations until transparent polls are conducted.

Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed credited the reopening on security gains against al-Shabab militants.
Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed credited the reopening on security gains against al-Shabab militants.

Sharif said they will not give up their constitutional rights to conduct peaceful protests to strengthen democracy in the country. He called upon opposition supporters to attend a rally next Friday.

Somalia and the United Arab Emirates shared strong traditional historic ties, but relations cooled after Mogadishu took a neutral stance toward the Gulf countries’ 2017 blockade of Qatar instead of siding with the UAE.

Political analyst Mohamed Salah says he believes that the decision by the Farmajo government and the confiscation of more than nine million U.S. dollars from Emirati officials at Mogadishu airport in April 2018 angered the rich Gulf nation.

“The two countries’ relations have been deteriorating for quite a while for two main reasons: the neutral role Somalia has taken on the Gulf crisis did not go well with UAE, and the second, the way UAE deals with Somalia didn’t go well with the current administration, because UAE has strong ties with some of the regional leaders and the current regime did not like that.”

International organizations such as the United Nations and the African Union have repeatedly urged Somali leaders to resolve their differences and move forward with elections -- without resorting to violence.