Somalia’s AG seeks Djiboutian passport as revenge fears grow in Mogadishu

Somali Federal Government Attorney General, Saleban Mohamed Mohamud.FILE PHOTO: Somali Federal Government Attorney General, Saleban Mohamed Mohamud.

MOGADISHU (Somali Affairs)  The Attorney General of the Federal Government of Somalia, Saleban Mohamed Mohamud, has secretly left Mogadishu and arrived in the tiny country of Djibouti a week ago to obtain a passport, government sources said.

Mr. Saleban, who was appointed as the country’s Attorney General in November 2019, is an ally to President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and Fahad Yasin, the former National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) chief.

“His trip to Djibouti is about getting a Djiboutian passport,” an official close to Villa Somalia told Somali Affairs Thursday. The official has declined to be named in this report due to safety concerns.

Somalia is currently in an election period marred by intense political crisis. The country’s unpredictable transition has prompted key government officials to consider fleeing the country for security reasons.

Tensions have been mounting following an attempt in April to extend the term of President Farmajo by two years. The political crisis had ensued confrontation between clan-affiliated factions in the armed forces which is an indication of the extent to which the political crisis has escalated following delayed parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for early 2021.

Somali Affairs has learned that 17 staff members from Villa Somalia, the Benadir Regional Court, the police, NISA and the prosecutor’s office have traveled to Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia in search of passports for sale in order to flee the country just in case if Farmajo is defeated by the opposition in the upcoming presidential poll. Among these individuals is the deputy chief of staff of Villa Somalia, Mr. Abdinur Mohamed Ahmed who is also a cousin of Fahad Yasin.

Obtaining passports from Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia, as many Somalis justify, makes it easier to obtain visas to Europe, Canada and the United States of America.

Somalia’s Attorney General Saleban is one of the individuals allegedly “committed serious abuses”. He is accused of threatening critics, journalists, ordering arbitrary detentions and torture under the orders of President Farmajo and Fahad Yasin. Just in December 2020, Mr. Saleban threatened critical media and journalists who uncovered a secret torture facility in Daynile neighborhood in Mogadishu.

At least two Haramcad [the Turkish-trained police unit] commanders – Capt. Mahad Korow and Capt. Ahmed Khadar – had obtained Ethiopian passports earlier this year, according to sources in Addis Ababa. They were facilitated by middlemen, with the cost of USD 5,000 for each passport.

“You cannot escape with a Somali passport as it is strenuous to get a visa to Europe, Canada or America quickly. They prefer to get passports from neighbouring countries like Ethiopia. It is a good and profitable market for us,” said a passport smuggler based  in Addis Ababa who gave his initial as only ‘Ali’.

Somali Affairs contacted Attorney General Saleban but did not respond to our inquiries. Meanwhile Capt. Mahad Korow and Capt. Ahmed Khadar declined our request for interview.

Beyond the election, Somalia’s current political crisis has laid bare the structural challenges facing the country. Clan-based political mobilisation as well as revenge actions for atrocities committed by those in the government had unravelled during the current political crisis.

“There is no adherence to the rule of law in the country. Government officials do not abide by the laws. That makes people to have the believe that justice can only be achieved through clan-based revenge and violence,” said Mohamed Mohamud, a Somali lawyer ho studies Somali customary law known as ‘Xeer”.

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