President Farmajo is preparing for an official state visit to neighbouring Djibouti on Thursday for bilateral talks with Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh.
The trip was confirmed by President Farmajo’s Director of Communications and comes at a sensitive time for the two horn of Africa leaders. Earlier this month, Somalia’s decision to back Ethiopia in calling for the UN to lift sanctions in Eritrea was met with bitterness by Djibouti who said that they were “deeply shocked” by Somalia’s position.
In a statement reacting to Farmajo’s call to lift sanctions, the Djiboutian Embassy in Somalia wrote a strongly worded letter to address this perceived affront, saying it was “unacceptable” to see Somalia supporting Eritrea.
“As a sovereign state, there is no doubt that Somalia has the right to establish diplomatic relations with the countries of the region, however, it is unacceptable to see our brotherly Somalia supporting Eritrea which is occupying part of our territory and still denying having Djiboutian prisoners.”
The statement went on to say that “we will not tolerate ruthless talks while our young men and women are yet here defending Somalia’s peace and stability.” The tiny nation is one of five African countries with troops in AMISOM, the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia. The mission has protected Somalia’s fragile internationally-backed government from Islamist militant forces for over a decade. Djibouti sent its troops in 2011.
Djibouti’s sentiment was echoed by former Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud who urged the Somali federal government to reconsider their position on the Djibouti-Eritrea border dispute.
Mohamud said that Somalia owes a great deal to Djibouti for the military sacrifices they’ve made to defend Somalia’s stability.
“The most expensive sacrifice a human being could offer is the soul. People of Djibouti did not only spend their wealth but also sacrificed their lives and shed their blood for us (Somalia),” reads the statement. “Djibouti paid ultimate sacrifices to stand on our shoulder….did our leaders ask themselves how many (Djibouti) children lost fathers, how many wives lost husbands or how many mothers lost their sons in our support?”.
Analysts expect that President Farmajo will be attempting to shore up relations between Eritrea and Djibouti.
Historically, Djibouti and Somalia have maintained close relations. In addition to sharing a border, the two nation’s are predominately made up of ethnic Somalis.