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Somalia President Mohamud in Eritrea, seeks security cooperation


By ABDULKADIR KHALIF
Thursday October 12, 2023

Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud returned to Eritrea for what his office said was a working visit which involved him touring the military camps where Somali cadets have been undergoing training since 2019.

Arriving in Asmara on Sunday, the Somalian leader was cordially received by his Eritrean counterpart Isaias Afwerki who accompanied him to some of the training sites a day later.

Among the trainees visited by Mohamud were those undergoing or finishing skills building in navy and air force. Others were building expertise in infantry and other mechanised military dexterity.

“I am very happy that you have spared no efforts in building your skills through tough training,” Mohamud told cadets that performed a military parade in one of the camps.

“You will participate in the arduous work of ascertaining a strong and united Somalia,” he added.
Eritrea’s Information Minister Yemane G Meskel told the media that Somali leader was thankful for Eritrea’s contributions to Somalia’s peace building, calling it a brotherly country.

The first batch of the trained cadets had returned to Somalia, reportedly participating in the campaigns to defeat the Al Qaeda linked extremist Al Shabaab group.

Somalia’s Ministry of Information reported last week that military operations by pro-government forces killed 1650 extremist militants over the past two months, wounding 550 others.

When former Somalia president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo was handing over Villa Somalia, the presidential palace to President-elect Mohamud in June 2022, he told his successor that 5,000 cadets were in Eritrea.

But their stay had elicited serious rumours including claims they had participated in the Ethiopian war in Tigray which ended last year in November following a peace deal between Ethiopian government and its nemesis, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. Both Somalia an Eritrea had denied the claims but it didn’t stop families of cadets from demanding answers.

“Upon returning, those in Eritrea will help the government defeat the terrorists,” Farmaajo had told Mohamud in a televised event last year in May. Mohamud would later meet the families after initially visiting Asmara.

Yet, when Farmaajo’s opposition figures including Mohamud were in the presidential campaign, they criticised thousands being trained in Eritrea, perceiving that they were being prepared to oppress the opposition.

Some even asserted that the trainees were sent to Ethiopia to partake the Tigray conflict, a claim that the former government consistently rebuffed.

Many are surprised that a former critique, now a president has visited Eritrea for the fourth time since July last year, going to see the trainees in their camps, showing obvious admiration.

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