As Somalia prepares for the historic “one-person-one vote” elections in 2021, Puntland and Jubaland states still maintain frosty relationship with the Federal Government of Somalia disapproving the new electoral bill signed in to law in January 2020. Both regional states cited ambiguity in the electoral code, and said that it doesn’t address many outstanding issues that should have been addressed in consultation with the federals states before signing the bill in to law. Are both states considering the clan-based formula in favor of a one person, one vote system? No one knows. They accuse the FGS of breaching the national constitution without clearly mentioning the articles that have been violated. Puntland administration boycotted the Somalia Partnership Forum that was held in Mogadishu in October 2019 following the snub of the FGS to invite Madobe of Jubaland who is not recognized by the FGS. Some people believe the differences between the Puntland leader and the president of the FGS might have started when the two competed for the top seat during the elections back in 2017.
Puntland Support for Jubaland
Puntland State was the first regional state to congratulate Ahmed Madobe, after his re-election in the controversial elections on 22nd August 2019 before Kenya joining them in the flow of congratulations. According to the Federal Government, the elections were unlawful and didn’t comply with the electoral processes it has set prior to the elections. Puntland also endorsed the elections in May 2013 in which Madobe was elected as the President of Jubaland. In my opinion, there are two reasons for this unprecedented wave of support the current administration of Puntland is providing Jubaland with;
- Harti and Absame clans are both inhabitants of Jubaland and had history of rift pushing aside each other in the nineties during the civil war, but now seem to be coming closer to each other, a move that should be appreciated as it will enhance the peaceful co-existence and cooperation between the two clans. Puntland president also stated the same in the reception of Madobe in Bossaso in January 2020, saying we are the same people. Many of Kismayo inhabitants from Harti clan had moved to Puntland in the civil war era, but recently started to return back to Jubaland since it is drawing closer to stability. However, some consider this “tribalism” and coalition backed by foreign countries against other tribes which may spark clan clashes in the region.
- Both states formed political alliance against the current FGS leaders in an effort to defeat them in the upcoming elections. The two leaders met in Nairobi in January 2020 along with other political veterans including Omar Abdirashid, the former Prime Minister of Somalia and Abdiweli Gas, the former president of Puntland and the general elections in Somalia dominated the agenda. The president of Puntland also advocated for Ahmed Madobe’s recognition and met with some ambassadors to Somalia, including the USA ambassador to Somalia, but to no avail. Puntland believes Madobe’s removal from power could weaken the alliance, hence the looming loss in the elections. As a follow up to the meeting in Nairobi, Madobe visited the city of Bossaso, Puntland and had talks with Puntland leader discussing issues of concern and agreeing to cooperate at the fronts of security and trade.
No plan B for Puntland
Puntland administration doesn’t have cooperation with the other three federal member states; Hirshabelle, South-West and Galmudug, all of which enjoy the support of the FGS. At the end of the Puntland’s consultative meeting in March 2020, controversial statements were made labeling these three states as FGS-dependent states. The consultative meeting itself was unproductive and the outcome was contentious as no common understanding was reached. Puntland elders having seen the uncertainty the region is creeping into, advised the president to visit Mogadishu and sort out the differences with the FGS leaders. Ironically, Puntland president has once again called for national consultative meeting countrywide, despite the failure of the previous national consultative meeting held in Garowe in May 2019. There is no guarantee the coalition of Puntland and Jubaland together with the opposition parties in Mogadishu would be able to defeat the ruling party. So, what is the plan B for Puntalnd?
Ahmed Madobe in Jubaland
Ahmed Madobe became the president of Jubaland eight (8) years ago with no experience in building government institutions as he was grateful to the support of Kenya and Ethiopia that installed him in Kismayo. During these eight years, his administration remained only in Kismayo and couldn’t secure the whole territories of Jubaland. Elite people were either arrested or killed including elders and clan clash incidents were on the increase. Madobe is grappling with an imbalanced and untrained army and is overly reliant on the funds received from foreign countries which are used for political expenses rather than paying the salaries of the army on a regular basis. His administration is so weak that it is even unable to intervene and stop the bloodshed among the warring clans in the outskirts of Kismayo. It is now clear for every person that Madobe is not fit for the job in Jubaland and his future is in the dark. It is also believed Madobe’s blind support to the government of Kenya could cost dear for Somalia in the maritime dispute. His dictatorship character and hindrance of the federal system throughout these years would be remembered for pushing him decisively towards the exit door.
The way forward
As Puntland’s continuous support of Jubaland may fuel more political unrests, the FGS is required to do much more in this regard. The FGS should remove Madobe from power in the near future before June 2020 when the ICJ is expected to reach a decision over the maritime dispute with Kenya. On the other hand, the FGS should work on enhancing the bilateral relationship with Puntland soonest, considering it the oldest regional state, and its cooperation is vital for the unity of Somalia. The FGS is also ought to sit with the opposition parties and engage talks with them to reach consensus for the smooth happening of the upcoming elections. Should Puntland and Jubaland prove to be difficult to deal with, areas outside both states should be designated for the voters of both regions to cast their votes in the upcoming elections.
By: Nasrudin Mohamed Ahmed
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