Jubaland President Mohamed Ahmed Madobe has inked a ‘unity’ deal with his arch-rivals, stealing a march on the Federal Government of Somalia.
Brokered by the Kenyan government and facilitated by Puntland State President Said Abdullahi Deni, Madobe on Thursday announced they had reached a ‘historic’ agreement with rivals who had last year formed a parallel administration to undercut him.
In a declaration issued in Nairobi, Madobe and his opponents known as the Jubbaland Council for Change said they recognise Madobe’s election last year in August, in the “interest” of the people.
They also said they would form a ‘quality coalition government’ to administer the Somali federal state, including working together to fight Al-Shabaab.
“The two parties, while taking into consideration the tough and challenging times facing Jubaland, fully acknowledged the urgent need to settle the political dispute and reach a political agreement through dialogue and concession,” the declaration said on Thursday.
“Leaders representing both sides have unanimously agreed to work towards strengthening unity, and social cohesion of the people of Jubaland and resolve all matters of concern or conflict through consultations through of dialogue.”
There were no specifics on which role the opponents will take in Madobe’s administration. But the former Ras Kamboni Brigade leader may have been forced to admit he was leading Jubaland once last term. The statement cited the Jubbaland constitution of a two-term limit, indicating Madobe would relinquish his seat once the four years are over.
But the decision could steal a march on the Federal Government of Somalia under President Mohamed Farmaajo. In the wake of the August 21 elections, Farmaajo had ordered the polls cancelled, prevented the initial plan to inaugurate Madobe and ordered a re-run which never materialized. Later, Madobe was sworn in in Kismayu with Kenya sending Majority Leader in the National Assembly Aden Duale to represent President Uhuru Kenyatta. Madobe’s rivals though also swore themselves in, but never really started a parallel government.
On Thursday, those rivals including Madobe’s former ally in the Ras Kamboni Brigade Andinassir Serr Maah, Abdirashid Mohamed Hidig and Dahir Ahmed Sheikh signed on the declaration endorsing the presidency of Madobe. All the men come from the various sub-clans of the Ogadenis, which are the majority in Jubbaland.
The move was dismissed by some leaders in Mogadishu as illegitimate. Deputy Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Mohamud Abdikadir Hilaal said Madobe was an illegal President.
“Ahmed Islam has no legitimacy to Administer or in position of president of Jubaland leave alone to claim the end up of his favorite political differences by signing this meaningless agreement yet could escalate to a worse situation,” he wrote on his Twitter page without clarifying whether he spoke for President Farmaajo.
Several analysts on the Horn of Africa situation, however, observed that the decision to form a coalition may checkmate Mogadishu’s bid to remove Madobe.
Mr Rashid Abdi, a reasercher on the Horn and the Gulf region said the agreement could boost Madobe’s legitimacy as his main enemies in the state were now on his side.
“Jubaland President [Ahmed] Madobe has achieved a major coup in making a deal with opponents. He must now work to repair cohesion, [and] build inclusive politics,” Abdi said on Thursday.
“Unpalatable as it may seem, Villa Somalia has little option but to de-escalate in Gedo, cut its own separate deal with Madobe,” he added referring to the Official residence of Somali President, and the recent fighting between Somali National Forces and the Jubbaland forces in Gedo, near the border with Kenya.
Kenya Defence Forces have been allies of Madobe since his Brigade helped oust al-Shabaab in Kismayu. But Kenya’s continued support for Madobe has seen frictions between Mogadishu and Nairobi.
Mr Abdimalik Abdullahi, another researcher on Somali politics said Madobe move should be praised as it closed one area of potential diversion from key issues.
“It lays the foundations for a potential political reconciliation in Jubaland,” he said.
“Now going forward, it's time for the Jubaland administration to capitalise on this positive development and reach out to FGS and other Jubaland stakeholders. Jubbaland administration should also seek solutions for Gedo issues,” he argued, adding President Farmaajo should ease his stance on Jubaland.
Madobe’s move may, however, have been a scheme to protect his own political career, much as it declared that he won’t contest in Jubbaland again. Hamza Abdirazak Sadik, a Mogadishu-based lawyer and political analyst said the deal was opening a new chapter in local politics, but could also force the hand of Farmaajo into negotiating with a man he called illegitimate.
“To say the least, it ends the post-election disputes, creates harmony among stakeholders and opens new opportunities for the international community Partners to bring bear on the delusional Federal Government leaders for dialogue,” he told the Nation.
“Looking forward to see Jubbaland continue build its democracy and deepen collaboration with other Somalia’s Member States. Jubbaland continue to set examples.”
Despite the move, however, there was the small matter of clan politics. The coalition government to be formed, said the declaration will be based on clan balancing, even though the signatories were from the same major clan: Ogadenis.
Prior to the elections last year, Farmajo was accused of interfering with the local politics in Jubbaland to front his man. Villa Somalia denied the charge.
“Ogadenis are the majority of this region, that is why they are always in the seat of the president. There are also other clans like the Marehan and Shekal and they got vice presidentcy before,” argued Abdalla Ibrahim, who aspired for the Jubbaland seat last year, but now runs the East African Centre for Research and Strategic Studies.
“Those who signed the declaration are the most dangerous opponents to Madobe’s status. But my analysis shows there are others, who were opposed to Madobe but mostly lived in the shadows of these big guys.”
If Farmajo were to make a choice, Ibrahim said he might have to options: Either join in establish a parallel seat of government in a different town, possibly Buale, which is still under Al-Shabaab.