The political wrangles between Jubbaland and the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) is a threat to Mandera security, Governor Ali Roba has said.
In his address to Mandera County Assembly on Wednesday, Mr Roba said: “The political challenges between Jubbaland and the Federal Government of Somalia have escalated to a level that is posing a very serious danger to Mandera.”
Early last month, FGS sent security forces to Gedo region, leading to the displacement of Jubbaland security forces and administration.
The FGS troops have been camping at Bulahawa, a town near Mandera, in pursuit of Jubbaland State Security Minister Abdirashid Hassan Abdinur. Dollo and Bulla towns have been under control of FGS forces.
“Displaced forces have crossed into Kenya and are inside Mandera [County] along our border with Bulla Hawo. This has created a major security concern for our population,” said Mr Roba.
Mr Roba said that Mandera County government and residents have not interfered with the affairs of Somalia.
“We have given our neighbours all the support we could possibly give during the very difficult times of the post-Siad Barre rule. Their situation greatly affected us in all aspects of life,” said Mr Roba.
He said that Mandera is still affected by the spillover effects of terrorism in Somalia. Governor Roba wished Somalia well in resolving her problems.
“We respect Somalia’s sovereignty to solve their internal problems. However, their security challenges have found their way into our laps and we can no longer sit back and watch,” he said.
The security situation along the Kenya-Somalia border and the presence of Jubbaland administration and security in Mandera town poses a serious security risk.
On Sunday, Mandera County Referral Hospital administration asked the medical staff to be on standby and prepare to respond to any emergency resulting from the looming clash between the two camps.
Tension in Mandera is blamed on the presence of Mr Abdinur who escaped from a Mogadishu prison last month. Mr Abdinur has been hiding in the town.
The fugitive Jubbaland minister is wanted for crimes, including international human rights violations, massacre of innocent civilians and escaping from government custody.
“We can no longer keep quiet. While we respect the position of our government with respect to our relationship with Somalia, we refuse to accept the risks posed to our population and demand that our government handle this delicate matter urgently,” Mr Roba said.
He warned that the local population will hold Nairobi responsible should they be harmed.
“Our national government must know that while we remain patriotic, we are also duty-bound to protect our population from getting affected by a conflict that we believe we can avoid,” he said.
He claimed that the national government has chosen to remain quiet on the issue that is fast getting out of hand.
“We request the government to immediately remove the Jubbaland forces within our border to protect the people of Mandera. This situation is growing ugly and, as neighbours, we can clearly see the deteriorating security situation that may explode into a full blown conflict that will directly hurt the population of Mandera,” he said.