The death of Somalia’s former Prime Minister Ali Khalif Galaydh in Ethiopia raised a possibility that he may have been poisoned, with relatives pressing for an independent investigation.
Mr Galaydh who was Prime Minister of Somalia from 8 October 2000 to 28 October 2001 passed away in Jigjiga, the capital of Ethiopia’s Somali region from an unknown health condition; although local authorities later asserted that he died of COVID19 complications.
The doctor who was treating the former Prime Minister at a hotel room in Jigjiga told relatives on Thursday shortly after Mr Galaydh’s death that he died from food poisoning and negligence, soundly ruling out COVID19 as the cause of the suspicious death as reported by local Ethiopian authorities.
In addition, the doctor explained that Mr Galaydh did not show any COVID19 symptoms but faced a deteriorating abdominal pain and diarrhea, and pointed to a classic case of food poisoning that may have led to his death.
Other sources suggested that the food poisoning was caused by a meal eaten hours before the former Prime Minister fell ill that may have contained a toxin, rather than a standard bacterial poisoning, raising doubt it may have been a politically motivated assassination.
Relatives demands for an immediate investigation
Members of former PM’s relatives have told that local authorities in Ethiopia’s Somali region ignored their demands for an immediate investigation that would have answered many questions regarding cause of death.
“He suffered abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting, and told us that food poisoning was the cause of his illness.” said Mokhtar, one of the relatives of former Somali Prime Minister.
“Any doctor would tell you that these are the symptoms of a poisoning.” another relative says, speaking on the condition of anonymity, adding that the former Prime Minister was also denied access to urgent medical assistance and professional examination into the underlying condition of his illness.
Key events during Mr Khalif’s stay in Ethiopia
Somalia’s former Prime Minister Ali Khalif Galaydh was escorted from the border town of Wajale by traditional leaders in Ethiopia’s Somali region and checked himself into Jigjiga International Hotel. There, he attended a banquet lunch with ONLF senior leaders and Ethiopia’s Women Affairs Minister Filsan Abdullahi on 24 September.
From 29 September 2020 – 2 October, Mr Galaydh arranged meeting with senior Somali Ethiopian officials, with whom he made clear his frustration over Somaliland’s current leadership. On the same day, Minister of Internal Security for Ethiopia’s Somali region Hussein Hashi arrived in Hargeisa, Somaliland who had talks with officials of the break-away state, whose details have yet to be specified.
On October 2, the former Somali Prime Minister lambasted current Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo for refusing to answer a question on his government’s plans over disputed Sanaag and Sool regions, in an interview with a local television.
On October 4, two days after his widely broadcast interview, relatives and local politicians learned of his sudden illness from food poisoning, in the course of which he was visited by Minister of Security for Ethiopia’s Somali region Hussein Hashi and the regional Chief of Staff Hassani Dhadi at his hotel room. They ignored calls for urgent medical assistance to be provided to Mr Galaydh whose medical situation already deteriorated at the time.
President of Ethiopia’s Somali region Mustafe Agjar hesitated to answer calls for admitting Mr Galaydh to a hospital and similarly, the local traditional leaders who welcomed him upon his arrival made no effort to add their voices to the calls on saving the former Somali PM’s life.
On 8 October, Dr Ali Khalif Galaydh passed away at his hotel room at the age of 78 and his death was immediately pronounced by local authorities. His body has been admitted to hospital hours later. On the same, a local doctor announced that the renowned Somali politician died from Coronavirus.
A doctor who was treating Mr Galaydh in his hotel room ruled out that he had died from COVID19, adding that he had no doubt the former PM had been poisoned.
Several other renowned Somali figures died in Ethiopia in recent years, among them were Ahmed Hassan Awke and Mohamoud Sangub, who were anti-Ethiopia voices during the reign of Mohamed Siad Barre. Circumstances surrounding their death were similar to that of Mr Galaydh and no investigation has yet to be established into their suspicious deaths.