Somalia: Agreement reached in Baidoa to end political turmoil in South West State

Mogadishu (Caasimada Online) – Following a fortnight of intensive reconciliation talks, stakeholders in the South West regional state of Somalia, centered in Baidoa, secured a significant agreement on Sunday.

This landmark agreement marks a substantial stride in resolving the ongoing political turmoil that has plagued the region for several months and could serve as a catalyst for greater stability throughout Somalia.

Terms of the agreement

The terms of the agreement, outlined in the conference communique, dictate that traditional community leaders will choose the regional legislators between November 2023 and December 2023.

The election of the regional parliament speaker and the president is scheduled to take place in January 2024, with the Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs tasked with the implementation of the agreement.

Origins of the conflict

The roots of the conflict can be traced back to the extension of the term of regional leader Abdiaziz Lafta-Gareen, which sparked the political crisis in the South West state.

The stand-off between the government and opposition groups posed a significant threat to the ongoing anti-Al-Shabab operations. It escalated to the point of violence, with at least ten casualties resulting from a clash between the Southwest security forces and pro-opposition militia in Baidoa on December 23.

Presidential intervention

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Lower House Speaker Sheikh Adan Modobe swiftly intervened, providing a fresh start for Lafta-Gareen. The president himself visited Baidoa for the second round of reconciliation talks.

This intervention was likely informed by previous events, such as the skirmishes in 2018 over the federal government’s blocking of former Al-Shabab deputy leader Mukhtar Robow’s presidential bid, which resulted in the killing of 18 innocent civilians by Ethiopian non-ATMIS troops.

The agreement reached in Baidoa is anticipated to bring an end to the impasse between President Lafta Gareen and the South West opposition and restore order to the region, allowing for the continuation of anti-Al-Shabab operations.

The federal government has pledged necessary support to maintain stability in the state.