Somalia hires lobby firm to boost image in US

The Somali government has hired the lobbying firm BGR Group to bolster its image abroad and strengthen ties with the US government, Congress and media.

The lobbying firm, run by former Republican Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, inked the deal with the Somali federal government earlier this month and the contract runs through next year.

The hire comes at a time of high tensions between Somalia and some of its hitherto big donor Gulf Arab countries, including the UAE.

In November last year, the government of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo hired another public relations firm headed by another Republican, former US senator Alfonse Marcello D’Amato, to lobby the Trump administration officials and members of the American Congress.

At the time, the Somali government said it was hiring D’Amato’s company, Park Strategies, to assess “relevant policy, economic, and security developments that have implications for the relationship with the Somali republic and the US”.

It pledged not to use humanitarian aid to pay for the firm’s services.

The deal between Park Strategies and the Somali government expires in November and it is not clear whether it would be renewed.

The US government, which has given Somalia close to $2 billion in aid in the past two decade, has deployed hundreds of troops on the ground inside the Horn of Africa country to provide training and logistical assistance to the Somali army.

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