April 16, 2014
Following the urgent call to respond Baidoa tensions made by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia Ambassador Nicholas Kay on 24 March 2014 at the 425th meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council in Adis ababa, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud paid an unannounced and hastily visit to the town of Baidoa on 30th March to offer vacuum sympathy to the local leaders who for one year long engaged in building Southwestern Regional State composing of Bay, Gedo, Bakol, Lower Shabele, Lower Jubba and Middle Jubba. Even though, initially his visit was intended to be a half-day tour, it was suddenly extended to last for two whole days because of the fierce resistance by the traditional elders to meet with the President. The traditional elders who are from the six regions of the State had the perception that the president is against the free choice of Southwestern Citizens for forming the six-region state, and therefore has come to recognize the opposing state formation of three-regions. However, the Speaker of Somali Federal Parliament (SFP) Mohamed Sheikh Osman Jawari promptly intervened to end the deadlock between the traditional elders and the President. After exchanging opposing opinions and positions as well as presenting the perception they had for the President, the Elders’ antagonism towards the President was quietly cooled down, and it was underlined that the two sides had at least got each other. The participants also said that the President acknowledged their concern and hence a follow up consultative meeting would be held soon in Baidoa.
Nevertheless, President’s visit offers little hope for the strong ambition of the locals to create undivided a Southwestern State.
First, though it was already violated, the agreement between the Interim Administration for Jubba consisting of Gedo, Lower Jubba and Middle Jubba regions and Somali Federal Government (SFG) adopted on 28 August, 2013 in Adisababa, has complicated the SFG’s position to categorically denounce or support the creation of regional state in South Western Somalia. Although, in response to the popular election of Madobe Nunow as a head of the Southwestern State, the Ministry of Interior fearing that the Jubba Administration may bounce into the government’s rival network has issued a press release giving lip support for formation of Three – Region State composing of Bay, Lower Shabele and Bakol. Realistically, the SFG acknowledges (clandestinely) that the creation of Jubba Administration was externally driven by neighboring countries and the implementation of the signed agreement was literally violated by the Interim Administration led by Ahmed Modobe when he unilaterally appointed his three deputies and at the same time by passed over the SFG to conduct direct diplomatic meetings with the Heads of Ethiopia and Kenyan governments. Mohamud M. Ulusow, Writer and Political Analyst said in an article of Wide Gulf between the Somalia’s Leader and UNSOM’s Head; that the ‘President Uhuru of Kenya and PM Hailemariam of Ethiopia welcome the leaders of Puntland and Jubbaland more warmly than President Hassan of Somalia’.
Article 1, Number (5) and (6) of the Agreement says:
“The head of the Interim Jubba Administration shall be the Leader of the three regions of lower Jubba, middle Jubba and Gedo and also the Chairperson of the Executive Council and shall be accountable to the Federal Government of Somalia”.
“The Leader shall have three deputies appointed by the Leader in consultation with Somali Federal Government and they will also become members of the executive council”.
Similarly, article 2, Number 12 of the same agreement was not implemented which is concerned by the management of the Federal Institutions and National Infrastructures. It was supposed that the SFG should take control over the management of both the Kismayo Airport and the Seaport in 6 Months period however, it is yet to be seen the government’s response to this article:
“The Kismayo Sea Port and Air Port Management shall be handed-over to the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) in 6 months period; after which the Federal Government of Somalia shall appoint a competent management team in consultation with the Interim Jubba Administration meanwhile the current management of port prevails for the next 6 months. The Federal Government of Somalia will appoint immigration officers to all entry points”.
On the other hand, the UN representative Office in Somalia similarly offers unwavering support for establishment of the three-region state in defense to the Jubba Administration while deliberately ignoring the fact that the inhabitants of Southwestern regions genuinely decided to have a complete and inclusive regional autonomy composing of the Six regions. In his statement at the 425th Meeting in Adis ababa, Ambassador Kay reaffirmed his position for formation of the three regions by emphasizing that the UN’s support for the Government is bound up with the erection of the three regions. He said; ‘I will continue to work closely with key partners, principally the African Union, IGAD and the European Union, to support a Federal Government-led process with respect for the formation of a three-region state’. The UN rhetorically advocates for support of a community driven process of creating a regional autonomy while at the same time declines to comment the unique example set by the local leaders of those regions. The yearlong conference of initiating the State formation in Baidoa was enthusiastically locally-driven, community funded and community initiation without any outside help whatsoever. Ulusow in the same article said; ‘UN calls the shot and plants the causes for division and grievances’.
Mohamud M. Ulusow furthermore; hinted in his article that Mohamed Abdi Afey and Eng Mahboub Maalim both of Somali Kenyan nationals who are envoy and Excutive Secretary of IGAD respectively are diplomatically responsible for the conundrum in Southwestern Regions of Somalia because of their clan lineage.
Moreover, Somali Federal Parliament never debated the Adis ababa agreement and the government never submitted it to the Parliament, therefore it seems that the Interim Administration for Jubba will remain a flashpoint of conflict forever in Somalia’s Federalism process unless and until SFP adopts holistic resolutions treating with the Federal Member States. IGAD, Kenya and Ethiopia would keep their unchecked meddling in the domestic affairs of Somalia and the government prefers to keep the status quo until its current mandate expires in 2016.
Second, apart from Nicholas Kay’s call, it is assumed that the President’s primary ambition was to show photo-ops in Baidoa for preparation of a trip to Brussels. The Brussels Meeting has got a special significance for the government due to the pledges made last September in the New Deal Compact, and it is the hope for the government that the best way to substantiate those pledges into deliverable hard currency is to demonstrate to the International Community that the government is actually committed to lead the initiation of Regional State formations and that its effort of continuing an inclusive agreement between opposing state formation processes has got momentum among the stakeholders in those region. The New Deal Compact gives substantial accountability between the Regional States and the SFG. Consequently, his effort to bridge the gap the between his administration and the leaders of Southwestern State was technically narrowed with the help of the Speaker of the House of the People but not radically accommodated.
By Abdulkadir Suleiman