It is unclear why the trip has been kept so secret but according to a source close to the government the president received an official invitation from the French government.
He will stop by Djibouti to pay a personal visit to the French embassy in the Djibouti to follow up the recent visit to Hargeisa by the French Ambassador and his delegation.
While in Djibouti, the Minister of Post and Telecommunication will also sign a major telecommunication deal that will see Somaliland connected to Europe’s fast internet cables via the East African Submarine Cable System (EASSy) and Seacom. The submarine-cable will also be connected to Ethiopia through Somaliland’s Berbera waters.
The president will then fly to Addis Ababa, where he will meet officials from the Ethiopian government, diplomats from a number of European nations, before he flies to Paris.
A local analyst believes the president and his team might also meet with French investors and might sign a major contract worth $700-million USD with Bolloré Africa Logistics to manage the port of Berbera. He added that, president Rayale will also discuss the issue of the port with the Ethiopians leaders.
Somaliland has been pushing landlocked Ethiopia, the second most populous nation in Africa to use it’s Berbera as their prime port. Bolloré Africa Logistics has held a separate meeting with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia in December of 2009.
Vice President Ahmed Yasin, who just returned from a Paris hospital after falling ill saluted the president as he jetted off to the Red Sea nation of Djibouti.
While visiting Hargeisa, the French ambassador to Djibouti on Saturday, told the president, that France would support development in Somaliland in particular in education. He cited his country will consider giving Somaliland students free scholarships to study in France.
This is not the first time President Rayale has received an invitation from the French government, in September of 2008, he led a delegation to France on a working mission. However, the President is leading a very different team this time, his Foreign Minister, is already in Addis Ababa after Somaliland was invited to a summit of Ambassadors and diplomats spearheaded by Romania, the intermediate chairman.
According to the government radio, Radio Hargeisa, Abdullahi Mohamed Dualeh, will address the diplomats from leading European, American, African and Asian countries gathering in the Ethiopian capital. He will make a case of Somaliland’s quest for international recognition and might win new friends.
The president’s visit will last about two weeks.