Somali opposition leaders warn against ‘secret’ oil deals with foreign firms

The Council of the Presidential Candidates Union has warned the federal government against entering oil exploration and drilling agreements with the foreign firms just before the end of its term.

In a letter addressed to President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo,Speaker of the Lower House Mohamed Mursal Sheikh Aabdirahman, Speaker of the Upper House, Abdi Hashi Aabdullahi, Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble among others, the presidential candidates said they had information that the government was planning to sign a secret oil exploration and drilling deal with two foreign companies.

“We have received information that the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources of the Federal Republic of Somalia, on behalf of the Somali government, is planning to sign a secret Petroleum exploration and drilling agreement with two foreign companies in the coming days. If this happens, it will pose a great danger to the future, standing and unity of the Somali Nation and its natural resources,” the letter, published on the Twitter page of Aabdirahman Abdishakur Warsame, one of the candidates, read in part.

“On 5 June 2018, the Federal Government of Somalia and Federal Member states signed an agreement on sharing of natural resources in Baidoa, which states that any agreement on the drilling, exploration or search for oil in the country must be transparent, thoroughly debated, evaluated and agreed upon, and finally approved by the House of the People of the Federal Republic of Somalia, before it is signed,” the letter said.

The presidential candidates noted that the “secret” agreement the ministry is going to sign “is against all the laws and regulations on natural resources that have been approved by the Federal Parliament of Somalia, agreements between the federal government and federal member states, and the general understanding of the responsibility of protecting the natural resources of our country.”

The candidates’ letter to the president also pointed out that the “secret” agreement will “violate the agreements between the Federal Government of Somalia and international monetary institutions, especially the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.”

The letter added that the agreement will also “put the debt relief process at great risk and will result in Somalia being forced to go back to conditions already fulfilled, or the failure of the entire debt relief process, which is important for the country’s economic growth and its ability to attract investment”.

The Presidential Candidates’ Union expressed concerns that the said agreements come at a time when there are only 38 days before the end of term for the current government, which they said “creates strong suspicions”.

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