The President of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud paid a courtesy call to the embassy of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Mogadishu amid rising tensions between the president and the government of the UAE.
Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has publicly denied that the meeting was meant to repair a fractured relationship and maintains that ties are strong.
‘We thank the UAE government for the projects it implements in Somalia. Recently, there were rumors with the intent to tarnish the ties and the friendship of Somalia and the UAE. It is a fabrication and the ties between the two nations remain stronger than ever’. The president said.
Many believe the visit is aimed to pacify tensions after UAE government invited regional administrators to the Emirates without offering an invite to the Somali president. A move which may have caused palpable friction between the two.
The deputy ambassador of the UAE embassy in Somalia, Hamdan Rashid Al-Shamsa acknowledged the visit of President Hassan to the embassy and met with him.
The ambassador of the UAE to Somalia, Mohamed Al-Uthman, has been absent from Somalia since UAE leaders held a conference on the Somali elections in Abu Dhabi last month.
Since then Ambassador Mohamed Al-Uthman has been staying in Nairobi where he has reportedly met with several presidential candidates.
Analysts are speculating that the relocation of the ambassador and the invitation to meet with regional administrators as signs that the UAE government may be looking to endorse other candidates for Somalia’s top job.
Foreign funding played a major role in swaying influence during the 2012 elections and this year election is expected to be more or less the same.
The UAE and Somalia have a strong relationship that goes back to the Siyad Barre government where the UAE ruler at the time Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan maintained a farm in Afgooye that he visited regularly. The UAE has attempted to exert more influence in Somalia to counteract Turkey’s visible involvement in Somalia.