WardheerNews series- What’s in a Picture
On June 16, 2018, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to Somalia and was warmly received by Somali President Mohamed Farmajo, at the steps of the plane carrying the PM. Six days later, Farmajo arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and was received at the airport by Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister.
Who is to blame for this egregious snub? Who is responsible for this utter humiliation of the Somali president?
All the heads of state who attended the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) conference in Ethiopia in June were met and received at the airport by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Even the
President of Djibouti, with a population of 943,000, received a warm welcome at the airport in Addis Ababa. Not the Somali president.
Every time a Somali president goes to neighboring countries, he is received by a cabinet minister of the host country.
Diplomatic protocol is universally used because it is a set of international courtesy rules that acknowledge the hierarchical standing of all those present at official events. A cabinet minister is received by another cabinet minister. A deputy minister is equally received by another deputy minister. It is strange that the prime minster of Ethiopia has different standards for the heads of IGAD states.
President Farmajo has shown a poor understanding of international protocol by first receiving Ethiopian Minister at Mogadishu airport. Farmajo waited for the premier at the steps of the plane for more than 20 minutes as the premier lingered inside.
The Ethiopian premier came with a large contingency of security detail in civilian clothes, but what was embarrassing was the several soldiers—in military fatigue—who came with the delegation shamelessly wielding big machine guns. Moreover, the premier had the audacity not to dress elegantly. He was not wearing a suit and tie as he has done on
all his other official visits
to various countries.
President Farmajo should have let his premier, Hassan Kheyre, receive the Ethiopian Prime Minister, like former Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf did to then Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi when the latter visited Mogadishu in 2007.
Somali leaders should stop humiliating themselves and the nation they represent. Somalia, with its population of more than ten million, should act like a dignified country. It is not less than a country, not one that countenances disrespect from foreign statesmen. How long will it take for our leaders to act with dignity and protest against indignities?
President Farmajo and his handlers should insist on being received by his peers on all his official travels, or he should stay home. He can be humble as he wants, but this is not about him; it is about representing an entire nation. Besides, following the right protocol carries bigger meanings. Any violation of protocol means a host country disrespects our president and has a low opinion of him and our country.
If some of these world leaders want to humiliate Somali leaders, we should distance ourselves from such deliberate acts of humiliation.
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