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Farmaajo to miss UNGA for 2nd time as US citizenship questions arise

Prime Minister Hassan Khaire addressed the 72nd UN General Assembly 2017. Photo: UN

President Mohamed Farmaajo will for the second year running not travel to the US to address the UN General Assembly as questions on his American citizenship arise.

Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmed Awad will instead represent the President in the 73rd UN General Assembly. The General Debates will run from September 25 to October 1 where world leaders will make presentations before the Assembly. According to the schedule, Somalia will be expected to address the Assembly September 27.

Prime Minister Hassan Khaire addressed the Assembly last year on behalf of President Farmaajo who has a US passport. It is not clear if the President’s failure to travel to the US for the General Assembly is impeded by possession of a US passport.

According to US State Department passport regulations, dual nationals and US nationals ‘must use a U.S. passport to enter and leave the United States’. The President’s travel to the US does not necessarily raised a legal question but requirement of a foreign president having to produce a US passport in order to enter and leave the country present protocol challenges.

Most countries require senior public office holders to relinquish foreign citizenship but the absence of a citizenship law in Somalia which addresses such questions means dual passport holders can still occupy the highest offices in the land without having to relinquish their allegiance to other countries.

At least 105 legislators in the federal parliament hold foreign passports. Prime Minister Hassan Khaire holds a Norwegian passport.