To: President of Somali Federal Republic, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo
Dear Mr. President,
As an FYI, over five years ago I shared with UNSOM a document titled Jubbaland Stand-off Resolution which provided the bases of the political conflict between Federal Government at that time and Jubbaland interim leaders and a resolution which became real after Addis Ababa conference in August of 2013.
Since there is going to be another looming conflict in Jubbaland in early 2019 which could turn into a military conflict, I believe I shall share with you some of the major principles or guidelines that are necessary and important for peaceful and progressive Jubbaland:
1) The first principle is “do no harm” which means we shall not have a much worse situation than what we have now. In my view the international community led by UNSOM and AMISOM shall be very clear to FGS, Jubbaland leaders, local militias, and other stakeholders to avoid any sort of military conflict, and incitement or face consequences.
At this moment politically, people in Jubbaland are in between two rocks; leaders in Villa Somalia and Kismayo. They are vying for their political goals in 2020 and 2019 respectively. The grievances and needs for the local people are not on the table. Recently residents of Garbaharey rejected to welcome President Ahmed Madobe. Three weeks ago, local elders in Bardere told Senators and MPs believed to be sent by the regime in Mogadishu not to come to the city. There is stand off in Bardere right now after Jubbaland Administration appointed two persons as District Commissioner. This is a political retaliation by leaders in Kismayo for the uprising. The uprising in Gedo is already visible. According to my sources there are other plans in place to spread the uprising to the Diaspora and some parts of Lower Jubba including Kismayo which could be problematic. The second uprising is going to be coordinated by Gedo residents and Jubbaland Alliance for Change based at SYL Hotel in Mogadishu. Jubbaland Alliance for Change is a new political entity which represents the grass roots of the local people in Gedo, Middle Jubba and Lower Jubba as per their first mission statement. There is a growing opposition towards President Ahmed Madobe and to certain extent an increasing sentiment to the Federal Government for not listening local people.
2) There shall be “a political space for local people”. Historically affiliates run the affairs of Jubbaland with gun barrel and local people are frustrated. According to local people in Jubbaland affiliates are people from other regions of Somalia but are related to local people. Local people should have their fundamental rights to run their affairs, elect their representatives and leaders. Affiliates have their rights as well but shall respect local dynamics/traditions and get their support from locals if they want to run for an office. The slogan for Jubbaland Alliance for Change is Jubbalanders for Jubbaland. Their concept is to exclude or minimize affiliates from the political process eventually, Gedo region has already succeeded doing so in the last two processes. This issue is very sensitive one in the region and it shall be considered carefully.
Locals take their peace seriously. They do not need a military conflict between Bardere and Afmadow or elsewhere. Jubbaland is one of the most diverse and integrated regions in Somalia after Mogadishu. This is why many locals advocated peace, the creation of “Jubbaland entity” and rejected war in 2013 and 2014. This is the difference between locals and affiliates. Affiliates tend to beat war and political drums with less attention to the general peace and stability of the region. There will be a lasting peace when locals take over their destiny because they care and understand more than affiliates. According to locals, there are some dangerous political drums which can become out of control by both sides primarily by affiliates and it needs to be addressed quickly.
3) “Four seats allocated to Salagle town in Middle Jubba” is a huge political obstacle in the region. As per federal and regional constitutions, article 49 (5) and 6 (2) respectively, also Addis Ababa Agreement article 1 (8), seats can only be allocated to districts commissioned before December 1990. Salagle in Middle Jubba and Eelade in Gedo became districts in 2007 even though Salagle got four seats while Eelade got none. Dajuma in Middle Jubba and Buurdhubo in Gedo were commissioned as districts before December 1990 but neither got seats. This was a political robbery according to locals and it needs to be resolved before regional election in 2019.
The Federal Lower House passed a resolution in 2015 that made null and void how seats of Jubbaland House of Representatives were allocated and distributed as it was against the Federal Constitution.
If Salagle is keeping its four seats then Eelade, Dajuma and Buurdhuubo should get four seats per constituent. If Salagle looses the four seats as per both constitutions then only Dajuma and Buurdhuubo shall get four seats per riding. Local people in Jubbaland emphasize the seat allocation issue to be the most contested one and it needs to be resolved. On top of many other issues, the Salagle one is the centre of all disputes and if it’s not resolved it may cause the disintegration of Jubbaland Region.
4) There should be “freedom of expression” in the region. Local politicians and ordinary people shall be able to express their constructive views without any fear. Jubbaland is the worst violator of freedom of expression in Somalia. Local MPs run away from Kismayo due to threats by Jubbaland regime. Local journalists are either arrested or kicked out of Kismayo. There is room for improvement in this area.
5) “Free, transparent and fair selection/election shall be a top priority for Jubbaland in 2019”. Not to your surprise Jubbaland shall not become another Galmudug which is already disintegrated. I and many others wish for the people of Galmudug well and resolve their differences. There are lessons learned from South West process as well which is still evolving as I write. In my view the international community led by the UN and AMISOM shall use their leverage to make sure that local people exercise their fundamental rights to choose their representatives and leader freely without any coercion and interference. Both interferences by Villa Somalia and Jubba leaders shall be contained for the common peace. There should be a green or blue zone in Kismayo or elsewhere in the region for the selection/election to take place without any fear and intimidation.
I thank you for your consideration and I am very hopeful for a better Somalia.
Aden Abdi Hire
Aden can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Aden is a Senior Political Analyst and is writing this letter/article in his personal capacity.