President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo of Somalia today officially renounced his US citizenship in a rare political chess move welcomed by the Somali pubic and seen by many people as a political decision to help boost his dwindling popularity ahead of the 2020 elections by presenting himself as a nationalist.
The announcement was made public on Thursday through a written statement issued on Twitter by his media office. President Farmaajo who before today held dual Somalia and US citizenship, said without clarifying that he made the decision to renounce his US citizenship immediately after he was elected as President of Somalia in 2018.
“This is to officially announce that the President of the Federal Republic of Somalia H.E. Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, has relinquished his United States citizenship. This follows the completion of the required legal and immigration processes that had been initiated after the President’s election,” partially read the statement issued on social media.
The Somali population hugely welcomed the move terming it as historic and nationalistic. Sources hinted that the President is now likely to make his bold move into law through a parliamentary approval to lock out dual citizens from seeking top political seats in Somalia come 2020 elections.
“Dear our President @M_Farmaajo You took a historic and unforgettable decision No matter how some of us criticize you but every one of us knows how loyal you’re for your country. We are all proud of you Excellency,” Sadia Mao, a Somali citizen commented on Twitter with a picture post of President Farmaajo.
Legal experts argue the President’s dual citizenship status came with both negative and positive advantages with the biggest set back being his inability to meet with US President Donald Trump or even visit the US as President of Somalia because he who would not have been granted the diplomatic treatment a visiting Head of State is entitled to including protection by the elite US secret service due to his US citizenship status.
The other disadvantage he faced was that in his native New York State in the US the death penalty is abolished and in Somalia the death penalty is legal and is often enforced by a military court that sentences murders including terror suspects. He would have likely be taken to court once back home in the US where his family resides. But this is now not possible anymore because he is no longer a US citizen.
The biggest advantage for President Farmaajo is that he can now meet with President Donald Trump or even attend the upcoming UN General Assembly summit in New York later this year in September without presenting too much dilemma to the US government had he still been a US citizen. Just to show how delicate the matter had weighed on President Farmaajo, he could not attend the last two UN summits due to his US citizenship status and instead was forced to dispatch Prime Minister Hassan Ali Kheire, himself a dual citizen of Somalia and Norway. Most of the Somalia cabinet Ministers are also dual citizens.
Ambassador Abdi Aynte, a former Somalia Planning Minister and Ambassador to the United Kingdom said that he thinks the President’s decision was voluntary and that the decision will likely help boost his public image.
“President Farmaajo was elected on a populist platform. This decision to renounce his US citizenship is likely to boost his public support which of recent was really low. I also think that President Farmaajo will likely bring a motion in parliament to outlaw dual citizens from vying for top Somalia government positions. The President will get a huge support for that decision. In politics such a move is referred to as ‘closing the door behind you’ once you are certain you are inside the cycle of power,” Ambassador Aynte added.