On May 23rd, a brief ceremony in Villa Somalia officially sanctioned the handover of power from outgoing President Farmajo to the elected Sheikh Mohamud. Both pledged support and consultations going forward. Farmajo will reside in Mogadishu, while media and social communication structures have been transferred: both are are signs of détente.
During the ceremony, Farmajo confirmed that several thousand Somali soldiers had been sent to Eritrea for training and that their return had been delayed by the prolonged vote. It is now up to Mohamud to give answers that have so far been consciously avoided, without creating frictions with his counterparts in Asmara and Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia is re-engaging directly with Somaliland, as are Kenya and Taiwan. Mohamud has therefore appointed former President Sheikh Ahmed as Special Envoy for dialogue with Somaliland, a first step in a hopefully less confrontational relationship. Party leader Wadajir Abdishakur, on the other hand, is the new Envoy for the fight against drought. Haruun, on the other hand, is his Chief of Staff, held up by the President as an example of dedication to the cohesion and reconstruction of the country.
Significantly, PM Roble on the other hand suspended Foreign Minister Muse for having released a ship carrying smuggled coal in breach of UN sanctions and therefore detained in Oman. Muse is close to the former President and the move appears to anticipate forthcoming replacements in the government. The new National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) Head, Salat, was also appointed.
While China confirmed its support through Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Bing, parallel telephone talks took place between the new President and US Secretary of State Blinken and with UN Secretary General Guterres. Lower House Speaker Madobe met with Qatari Ambassador bin Hamza Hashem, while his Senate counterpart Hashi met with Turkish Representative Yilmaz. Finally, PM Roble met with EU officials promising a new era of cooperation with Somalia. A race for good offices is in the offing with the new leadership, which obviously does not disdain interlocutions on several fronts.
In the meantime, security operations have defeated Al Shabaab terrorist groups in the Middle Shabelle area. These were the first conducted under President Mohamud and although not particularly relevant in changing the profile of the insurgency, particular emphasis is placed on such events.