Former Prime Hassan Khaire was Thursday hosted by Russian Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov in Moscow in a rare visit by a former Somali leader ahead of February elections sparking mixed reactions from Somalis online.
Khaire who is running for President in the February elections said the meeting focused on bilateral relations between the two countries. Separately, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed the meeting.
“During the conversation, there was an exchange of views on the prospects for strengthening Russian-Somali cooperation in various areas with a focus on the promotion of mutually beneficial trade and economic ties,” the Ministry said in a Facebook post.
It added that of discussion was also the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections in Somalia.
“Lavrov confirmed the constant support of Russia to the efforts of Somalis to form democratic institutions of power in the country.”
The meeting elicited mixed reactions from Somalis online in light of the upcoming elections which Khaire is contesting in. Some questioned the intentions of the Russian government hosting a presidential candidate barely two months into an election.
“This is seen by Somalia as an infringement and interference by the Russian federation on the Sovereignty and political independence of Somalia,” Facebook user Abdul Ali said.
But others thought it was within Khaire’s rights to engage with world leaders. “Sour grapes aside,
Hassan Khaire is within his rights to use his vast network to engage with the emerging powers like Russia, China and others.
Restoring Somalia’s old partnership is at the heart of Khaire’s foreign policy,” Muhammad Larm said on Twitter.
Khaire, a former oil executive with the defunct Soma Oil and Gas served as Prime Minister from February 2017 to July 2020 when he was removed in a no confidence vote by parliament.