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Somali embassy row heats up as former ambassador rubbishes Somali Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement

Wednesday May 4, 2022

Mogadishu (HOL) - The outgoing Ambassador of the Somali embassy in Rome, Ambassador Abdirahman Sheik Issa, is fighting back against allegations levelled against him by the Somali Foreign Ministry that he abused his office.

In an interview with HOL, the Ambassador denied that he had outright refused to return home for consultations. However, he confirmed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned six diplomats, including himself, from the Embassy of Rome to Mogadishu on December 25, 2021.

The Ambassador said he had written to the Ministry advising that recalling six diplomats could lead to the embassy's closure and sour Italian-Somali relations. Instead, he suggested he come alone while leaving the others to run the daily operations of the embassy. Sheikh Isse said that he had not received an answer from Mogadishu.

Ambassador Abdirahman accused the designated Chargé d'Affaires Ahmed Abdirahman Sheikh Nur of refusing to participate in an official transfer. Instead, Sheikh Isse accused Nur and three other diplomats of gaining entry while embassy staff were away, changing the locks and confiscating the keys to the vehicles.

"On the morning of April 8, 2022, they changed the keys to the embassy offices and took the keys to the embassy cars. It is also a fact that as the former Ambassador of the Italian Embassy,  I have not officially handed over the reins of the embassy to Mr. Ahmed Abdirahman Sheikh Nur. This is evident by how the embassy is being illegally taken over."

"I can only leave the embassy when I hand over the responsibility to the designated Chargé d'Affaires because there are a lot of national assets and sensitive documents here," he added.

Ambassador Abdirahman Sheikh Isse has also accused the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdisaid Muse Ali, of misleading the people with his statement.

Mr. Abdisaid Muse Ali, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation

"It is unfortunate that the foreign ministry press release, which was issued on the orders of the Minister Abdisaad Muse Ali,  did not mention the regrettable incident that tarnished the image of the Somali nation."

Isse told HOL that during Minister Abdisaid's last visit to Italy, the minister made a half-hearted attempt to meet with him and discuss the embassy's operations despite being in Rome for several days. He added that Abdisaid's unwillingness to meet with him made him uneasy. Shortly after that, he was recalled to Mogadishu by the Ministry.

The power struggle between diplomats began on April 7 when Somalia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs arrived in Italy to take over as the embassy's Charges d'Affaires. 

The standoff has been nearing a month and the two diplomats continue not to speak to each other. Since being ousted from the embassy on via dei Gracchi, Issa and his wife have been holed up in a separate diplomatic residence in Rome's Montesacro neighbourhood.

Neither of them leaves their respective buildings for fear that the other party may occupy it.

The case has been covered widely in Italian media, with several outlets having interviewed Ambassador Abdirahman. Ahmed Abdirahman Sheikh Nur has not spoken to the media - either in Somalia or Italy - about the internal diplomatic row that has embroiled the Somali embassy in the heart of Rome.

The embassy is located in Rome's upscale Prati district.

Prosecutors in Italy are investigating the dispute between the diplomats to ascertain whether the eviction via dei Gracchi was authorized directly by Mogadishu or whether it was a plot cultivated independently by Abdirahman Nur.


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