MOGADISHU – Somalia Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble is making attempts to rebuild the country’s relationship with the United Arab Emirates.
Roble, while receiving grants from the UAE to aid those hard hit by drought said he will work towards bringing the two countries closer as he apologized and the 2018 confiscation of $10m in funds from a private jet at Mogadishu airport by Somali officials.
Roble promised that the money, which the UAE has said was intended for training Somali troops, would be returned as soon as possible.
The seizure of the cash sparked a diplomatic row between the two countries, with Somali officials at the time claiming the money was intended to “destabilise” the conflict-wracked country.
“I would also like to clarify the dark period that happened between Somalia and the UAE which occurred on April 2018 here at this airport,” said Roble, speaking from Mogadishu airport.
“We want to accept that we were wrong and seek forgiveness from our brothers [UAE]. We are two brothers and whatever has happened let us look forward.”
The 2018 dispute led the UAE to close down a military training facility and a hospital in Mogadishu.
Differences between Somali and the UAE heightened with the Somali government rejecting pressure from the UAE to cut ties with Qatar, instead, adopting a neutral stance on the disagreement between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
When Mogadishu refused to join the Gulf Arab nations in blocking Qatar, an important ally and supporter of the Somali government led by President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, the UAE broke its ties with Somalia.
Somali has also been at loggerheads with UAE over the expansion of the Port of Berbera in Somaliland that is being done by DP World, a UAE company. Somali government claims it is an affront to its sovereignty while Somaliland has maintained its independence.
Roble said he hoped the apology could improve relations and also thanked the UAE for providing the Horn of Africa country with aid to help alleviate a drought currently hitting many Somalis.
The United Nations said last month that around 7.7 million people, nearly half Somalia’s population of 15.9 million, would require humanitarian aid and protection in 2022.