Sheikh Ahmed Islam Mohamed, aka Madobe, may have won back his presidential seat for another four years, but the continued tensions between Jubbaland and the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) mean he could be facing a future fraught with uncertainty.
As Kenya’s main ally in Somalia, Madobe, who previously led the moderate Ras Kamboni Brigade militia group, got the backing of Nairobi, but was frowned at by Mogadishu.
He now faces the hard tasks of reuniting the people in Jubbaland, weakening the Al-Shabaab controls in certain parts as well as rebuilding the frosty relations with FGS.
Already, his team has indicated it will ignore calls for another poll, and he will instead soon announce his new cabinet. Whether this will be a pointer to his early efforts in bringing together his rivals and his supporters, remains to be seen.
In his victory speech on August 22, Madobe did offer a conciliatory tone to his rivals and pledged to work with FGS and neighbouring countries, including Kenya and Ethiopia to the fight the Al-Shabaab.
“Somalia needs positive engagement, dialogue, consultation, and collaboration which are benchmarks that can drive the Somali people to development,” he said in Kismayu.
“We face a collective responsibility to secure our country and we have to confront and wage an offensive against Al-Shabaab from their hideouts,” he added, referring to the militant group that controls parts of Jubbaland.
Insecurity could be the biggest challenge, and one that he faced even before re-election. Indeed some of his opponents used that against him in the campaigns.
Madobe’s rivals went ahead to form parallel institutions, even though FGS rejected them as well. Two of his former colleagues, including Mr Abdinasir Serar, the former military spokesman of the Ras Kamboni Brigade, and Mr Abdirahman Hidig, each ‘swore’ themselves in as presidents.
Those parallel incidents were indicative of the divisions in Jubbaland, hence the need for a comprehensive healing and reconciliation among the clans, including those whose main traditional elders were allegedly locked out of the electoral process.
Though Madobe’s previous tenure saw relative calm with minimal Al-Shabaab attacks, his administration may need to solve the murder mystery of some clan elders like those of the Jareer Weyne and Galajel, targeted during the electioneering.
Luckily, Madobe already enjoys the support of key politicians in the country. Congratulatory messages from ex-Somali Presidents Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Puntland’s President Said Abdullahi Dani, may have offered him respite. Former Galmudug State President Abdikarim Gulleid and Deputy Speaker of Somali Senate Abdshir Ahmad also recognised his victory.
Both ex-presidents Mohamud and Ahmed were Madob’s opponents nearly six years ago when he set out to create the first Jubbaland administration. They now lead political parties targeting a stake in the 2022 elections. Already there are talks of initiating a reconciliation between their clans.
But Madobe will also have to figure out how to deal with the UN agencies and other non-governmental actors who may shy away from engaging him formally, in the wake of the frosty relations with Mogadishu.
Madobe lifted an embargo on FGS officials from visiting Kismayu, in what could be seen as trying to re-establish connections with Mogadishu. How President Farmaajo responds is another matter.
Just last Thursday, Mogadishu imposed a ban on direct flights to Kismayu, requiring them to first land in Mogadishu for ‘clearance.’ Madobe and his new MPs will also have to re-establish their connection with Mogadishu so that they can participate in the crucial upcoming 2021 election.
This will ensure Jubbaland is well represented in the national polls to be conducted in a different way from the old clan-based 4.5 system.
Another sticky issue is the presence of the Ethiopian military in Sector VI of Amisom in Jubbaland that controls parts of the Gedo region including Bardere, a key agricultural town.
With reports that both Ethiopian and Somali National Army forces were preparing to liberate the remaining regions held by Al-Shabaab in Jubbaland, Madobe’s beef with Mogadishu may be an unwelcome distraction.
The writer is the Director and senior researcher at SouthLink Consultants. ([email protected])