Amid war in Tigray, Somalia's president visits Ethiopia
ADDIS ABABA - Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on Wednesday visited Ethiopia, the troubled Horn of Africa nation which has been struggling with instability, particularly in the Tigray region, which has been the epicenter of mass murder and massacre targeting innocent civilians.
Hassan Sheikh's trip comes just a few months after he visited neighboring countries particularly Eritrea, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, raising suspicions about his decision to avoid Ethiopia, a country that has been playing an integral role in stabilizing Somalia.
There were concerns that Hassan Sheikh was under pressure from a clique of individuals who have been sympathetic to Tigray People's Liberation Front [TPLF] which is at loggerheads with Ethiopian National Defense Forces [ENDF], leading to the death of thousands of people.
On the official Twitter account, Villa Somalia revealed that the two leaders anchored their discussions on the improvement of bilateral ties between the two countries, without giving many details about the outcome of the negotiations.
"Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Abiy Ahmed Ali led their respective delegations in bilateral discussions in Addis Ababa," read the statement by the president's communication team, just moments after the meeting.
"The two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to deepen collaboration on various fronts and enhance regional cooperation towards a stable and prosperous Horn of Africa," the team further said, indicating that the relationship between the two countries was cordial.
But the trip comes amid heightened campaigns by members of the international community to have the Eritrea soldiers withdraw from the Tigray region where they are accused of perpetuating mass murder alongside Ethiopian National Defense Forces.
There have been concerns about Hassan Sheikh's position on the ongoing conflict in Tigray where Eritrea is involved directly, with critics accusing him of being lukewarm. Stakeholders have been piling pressure on Addis Ababa and Asmara to withdraw soldiers from Tigray.
Last year, a report from the United Nations Special Rapporteur in Eritrea accused Eritrean troops of crossing over to Ethiopia's Tigray region where they massacred civilians. Apparently, the report claimed Somali troops training in Eritrea were also forced to cross over the border.
Although Somalia denied the allegations, there is sufficient evidence to prove the Eritrea soldiers are still fighting in Tigray, a matter which has triggered concerns by members of the international community. Abiy Ahmed is believed to be seeking regional support ahead of much-anticipated mediation.
Hassan Sheikh is also facing the Al-Shabaab menace back in his country within Somalia, a move which has seen him activate Somali National Army, the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia, and US Africa Command against the militants.
Ethiopia is a major player in Somalia's security having deployed over 4,500 soldiers who are working with African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS]. In recent weeks, Al-Shabaab has also been trying to make its way to Ethiopia.