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Farmaajo confirms Somali troops trained in Eritrea during final speech as President

Monday May 23, 2022

Mogadishu (HOL) - Somalia's outgoing president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo handed over full power to his successor Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in a handover ceremony held at the presidential palace on Monday.

During his final address as president, Farmaajo highlighted some of his administration’s accomplishments, including winning the maritime dispute and the repatriation of Somalia’s airspace. The new president was handed over files dealing with the Somali National Army, election law, debt relief, and a file of a request that the Somalia government sent to the Security Council to run for a seat in 2024.

The outgoing president also confirmed that his government sent 5,000 recruits - Somalia’s largest cohort  - abroad to Eritrea for training. He confirmed that soldiers who completed their training last year in Eritrea were expected to return to the country but were delayed in order to avoid impacting the political situation and elections.

Although Somali troops have been trained abroad by foreign countries, most notably Turkey, the Eritrea program differs because it was clandestine and run by Somalia’s National Intelligence Agency (NISA).

Last year, a UN report alleged that Eritrea-trained Somalia troops fought alongside Eritrean soldiers in the Tigray war. There have been reports that Somali troops have committed war crimes during the conflict.

Hundreds of Somali parents whose sons and daughters have been missing demanded the government update them on their children’s whereabouts.

In June 2021, Somalia's Minister of Information Osman Dubbe denied that Somali troops were training in Eritrea and rebuffed accusations that they were active combatants in the troubled region.

Outgoing President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo formed a tripartite defence pact with Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed and Eritrea’s Isaias Afwerki.

"Mr. President, the army is ready for you, and I hope that the troops will return to the country to liberate the country from al-Shabaab," Farmaajo said.

Speaking on debt relief, the outgoing president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo noted that the country has passed through four stages. At the same time, the final phase remains, which can be finished next year.

Mohamud, who was voted out of power in 2017, was re-elected by Somalia's parliament last Sunday in Mogadishu, defeating the outgoing president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo.

The president's first duty is to name a new prime minister who will need parliamentary approval before naming a Cabinet.


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