Somalia: Southwest opposing sides agree to a reconciliation conference

Mogadishu (Caasimada Online) – The President of Southwest State of Somalia, Abdiaziz Hassan Mohamed Laftagareen, and leading opposition figures have agreed to a reconciliation meeting on January 5 in Baidoa.

The meeting was decided after Somalia’s Lower House Speaker, Sheikh Adan Mohamed Noor Madobe, invited opposition candidates and other political figures to his home on Saturday. President Laftagareen could not attend the gathering as he was still in Mogadishu for a National Consultative Council (NCC) meeting.

The reconciliation meeting comes in the wake of a violent clash that occurred in Baidoa on December 23, which resulted in the deaths of at least ten people.

The gun battle broke out at the home of former federal finance minister Mohamed Adan Ibrahim Fargeti, where the opposition-loyal militia had gathered. However, Fargeti claimed in a press conference that state security forces had attacked his house.

Speaker Adan Madobe expressed regret over the incident and hoped the reconciliation meeting would help resolve the major grievances between the conflicting parties.

The political stalemate between President Laftagareen and the opposition candidates has been ongoing for some time, with the main point of contention being the constitutionality of the president’s term extension.

In 2019, the Southwest parliament extended President Laftagareen’s term by one year, with his mandate now set to expire on December 19, 2023. However, the opposition has opposed this extension.

Some Southwest regional state lawmakers have blamed the federal government for the recent violence in Baidoa and called for the deployment of national military troops to the region to be redirected to the frontlines.

It is hoped that the reconciliation meeting on January 5 addresses these issues and brings about a peaceful resolution to the ongoing political tensions in Southwest State.

Southwest State is one of Somalia’s five federal member states, located in the southwestern part of the country. It was established in 2014 as part of the federal government’s efforts to decentralize power, per the country’s constitution.

Ethiopia borders the state to the west and Kenya to the south, and its capital is the city of Barawa.

The population of Southwest State is predominantly made up of the Rahanweyn clan, who are known for their agricultural and pastoralist traditions. The state is also home to a diverse mix of other clans and ethnic groups.

Over the years, Southwest State has faced several challenges, including conflict, drought, and economic hardship.

The ongoing civil war in Somalia has also affected the region, with various militant groups operating there.

Despite these challenges, the state has made some progress in recent years by establishing a regional administration and developing infrastructure and other public services.