Garowe, May 15, 2019 – “Are you the President’s son, or a man of his own”, I asked Ugandan President’s son, to begin a conversation on the dynamics of the Somali National Reconciliation Coference (SNRC) that was being held in Mbagati, Kenya, in 2002. At the time President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and his government were focused on the Great Lakes and had no time to monitor developments in Somalia. He was thinking that Somalia, because of the long and vicious civil war, was a lost African cause.
At the time Puntland State had a strong political problem with Djibouti and Egypt leading the rest of Arab countries in their support for Djibouti sponsored AbdulQassim Salad Hassan, the President of the Transitional National Government (TNG). Our political situation was worsened by the Chairman of the SNRC Technical Committee, Kolonzo Musoka, then Kenyan Foreign Minister and later Vice President, who was then inclined to prop up AbdulQassim Faction of the SNRC for the later’s re-election. We had information that he was being influenced by Saudi Arabian promise that he would get financial support for his Kenyan presidential ambitious in exchange for supporting AbdulQassim’s bid for re-election.
Puntland President and then Somalia’s Presidential Candidate (Abdullahi Yusuf) wanted Uganda to intervene and at least help us neutralize Puntland’s political opponents; Djibouti and League of Arab Countries. A Puntland delegation led by the Late President of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and former President of the State of Puntland (Mr. Yusuf), paid a visit to Uganda to brief officials on the latest political developments in Somalia and then on-going SNRC in Eldorate, Kenya, before moving it to Mbagati. Our political objective was to re-focus Museveni’s attention to Somalia’s situation as he was about to take over the Chairmanship of IGAD and definitely would get involved in Somalia’s affairs as represented by the SNRC. When we reached Kampala in late June 2002, President Museveni was out of the country. I was a member of the delegation, and as Puntland’s Presidency chief of Staff, had an important role to play. I quickly had linked up with Ugandan political and business establishments. I met with many officials, including an influential President’s son (name withheld for privacy reasons) to brief them adequately on Somali issues and the important role Uganda had to play in the SNRC as an IGAD Chair country.
It was a successful mission as shown by the important role President M7 played in Somalia’s affairs afterwards, including Ugandan leading role in AMISON later. We finally got rid of Kolonzo Musoka as Chairman of the SNRC Technical Committee, who later complained, “I didn’t know that the Colonel (Abdullahi Yusuf) had that diplomatic reach”. Abdullahi Yusuf had been elected President of Somalia later in October 2004.
The current President of Somalia, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, have also critical and important experience with Uganda without which he won’t have been President today.
One wisdom I picked up in Uganda at that time was that a presidential aide by the name of Lubanga saw so many persons of Somali origin in Uganda seeking to see President Yusuf during the visit, and he imagined the hard time that constituted for the President’s time and energy. He told me that a president was the ultimate power of a state and it was politically difficult for him to say no to personal requests in these audiences. It was therefore advisable to restrict unimportant Public access to the president.
Another story I learned from the landlady of our residence-like hotel in Kampala was that, according to this lady, every man, who had lived in that room later became President of a country, including Kenyan President Kibaki, who was then just elected. There were a number of other African Presidents in her list. That Ugandan story was an inspiration for all of us. Mr. Yusuf got elected president too.
(Photo: courtesy to wikipedia)