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President Farmajo invites his predecessors for talks amid bitter fall-out. Here’s the 6 items they discussed

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Former Presidents of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud (left) and Sharif Sheikh Ahmed (right) stand side by side with the new president of Somalia Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo at the inauguration ceremony in Mogadishu on February 22, 2017. Photo: UNSom

MOGADISHU—The Somali president on Wednesday met with his predecessors in a bid to contain the charged political atmosphere and simmering political indifference that has the potential to cause armed conflict.

President Mohamed Abdullahi alias Farmaajo met with his immediate predecessor, Hassan Sheikh and former president, Sheikh Shariff in the capital Mogadishu where several topics of national interest as well as allowing space to the opposition figures to check on the government were discussed.

Addressing the media at the offices of the Forum for National Parties, former president Hassan Sheikh stated that the meeting focused on six thematic areas such as next year’s presidential elections, solving the conflict between the federal government and the regional administrations ,respecting the Rule of Law, use of security agencies as political tool, representation of Banadir region and the fight against Al Shabab.

The leaders agreed that the presidential elections slated for next year will take place, rubbishing initial claims that the Federal Government was planning to extend term.

“We agreed to have series of meetings with other stakeholders to discuss details of how the polls can be held on time,” Hassan Sheikh said.

The former presidents expressed frustration with how the Federal Government was dealing with the regional administrations such as Puntland and Jubbaland where it’s leaders are have fallen out with the Federal Government. In Jubbaland, Farmaajo administration has previously rejected the re-election of Ahmed Madobe, terming it unlawful.

“We agreed to seek lasting solutions to the stand-off between the Federal Government and some of the federal administrations so that we create room for negotiations and solve the impasse through dialogue,”Hasssn noted without naming any specific regional administration.

Villa Somalia is yet to make statement on Wednesday meeting, but local media outlets reported that President Farmaajo apologized for the “two unfortunate incidents” at Aden Abdulle International Airport in Mogadishu where ex-president Shariff was barred from flying to Kismayu on September and to Baladweyn two weeks ago.

 INFLAMMATORY STATEMENT

The meeting comes at the backdrop of inflationary statement by Sheikh Shariff two week ago when he vowed “to displace the Federal Government from Mogadishu” after he was prevented from a trip to Baladweyn.

Visibly upset Shariff warned the President against the “continued disregard of the history of Mogadishu,” adding that it would not be hard to “expel his administration from the city.”

“This city was once ruled by militia groups. They were fought off and kicked out. Then came the Ethiopians and they were kicked out

“Then came Al-Shabaab and were removed. Are they (the Federal Government) stronger? I swear to Allah, if they don’t stop we will remove them,” Shariff said.

It’s not the first time the former President was prevented from flying out of the Mogadishu airport. Ahead of of the Jubbaland president’s inauguration in Kismayu last month, the airport authorities blocked Shariff from flying to the Southern city.

Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, who served as president of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia between 2009 and 2012, accused the federal government of “focusing on fighting politicians” at the expense of fighting militant group Al-Shabaab.

He said move to block him was the tip of the iceberg.

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