Diplomats troop to Mogadishu, what are they up to?

On October 16, Somalia’s President Mohamed Farmaajo received credentials from ambassadors Staffan Tillander of Sweden and Italy’s Alberto Vecchi at the Villa Somalia.

Soon thereafter, Somalia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ahmed Isse Awad received a copy of Vecchi credentials and held bilateral talks, with the two countries “keen to strengthen all cooperation and coordination mechanisms in various fields”.

Minister Awad welcomed the Italian ambassador and wished him success in his new duties and the historic Somali-Italian relations further development and partnership for the benefit of the two friendly peoples. This, however, two of the recent diplomatic receptions from foreign countries, indicating a new-found interest in the Horn of Africa state. Somalia has been stateless for almost three decades since the fall of Siad Barre’s government in January 1991.

With some order returning, thanks to efforts by Amisom troops, more western countries are either re-opening or establishing diplomatic missions in Mogadishu.

Only this month, the United States reopened its mission in Somalia since it closed on January 5, 1991. The US said the resumption of US-Somali relations symbolises “the strengthening of US-Somalia relations and advancement of stability, development, and peace for Somalia, and the region”. Earlier, Somalia had opened its first-ever mission in the US since independence in Washington DC on September 28.

On October 1, the Foreign Affairs minister received a copy of the credentials of Ambassador of Australia to Somalia Alison Chartres, who is also accredited to Kenya. This was on the sidelines of the Somalia Partnership Forum which was held from October 1 and attracted the participation of over 50 states and other international partners.

In September, the minister received China’s Ambassador Qin Jian, and discussed enhancing bilateral relations and cooperation. On September 4, the new representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees presented his credentials and discussed voluntary repatriation of Somali refugees from Kenya and Yemen.

On July 31, the Minister of Foreign Affairs met Dutch Ambassador Frans Makken in Mogadishu, during which they discussed enhancing bilateral relations and means of cooperation in security, justice, immigration and education. On July 28, Somali foreign minister welcomed the new country director of UN World Food Programme, Cesar Arroyo.

On July 12, Somali foreign minister met his Irish counterpart Simon Coveney in Dublin. A day earlier he had met State Minister for Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom Harriett Baldwin in London. On July 10, acting PS of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Hersi Haji Olosow received a copy of the credentials of new Russian Ambassador Mikhail Golovanov. On June 25, State Minister Abdi welcomed James Swan, the new Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, and head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia.

The main question, however, what are these countries up to after years of neglect?

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