Jubbaland President Ahmed Mohamed Islam, better known as “Ahmed Madobe” (second right), and opponents after they signed a unity deal in Nairobi on Thursday, April 23, 2020. PHOTO | DAILY NATION

On 23 April 2020, the ex-President of Jubaland, Mr. Ahmed Madobe announced he has signed a deal with whom he called were his political rivals in Jubaland. Ahmed Madobe’s regime lost its legitimacy following the unconstitutional elections in which he was re-elected as the President of Jubaland for a third term in a row that made him a dictator in the making.

Abdinasir Serar, Abdirashid Hidig and Dahir Sheikh, who reached the agreement with Madobe in Nairobi, had declared to be the presidents of Jubaland in August last year, and staged a mock inauguration, just like Madobe did. They formed the Council for Change in Jubaland alongside other candidates. The Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) recognized none of these four self-appointed presidents and labeled the elections ‘unlawful’.

Prior to the elections in August 2019, Mr. Madobe ignored the directives for the elections issued by the FGS, and deliberately advanced with the elections dismissing calls from the International Community and the UN to agree terms with the FGS on the procedures of the elections.

Why the “unity deal” of Jubaland is different from that of Galmudug

The Kenyan newspapers described the unity deal as “Kenyan brokered deal” while Puntland state and few other Somali politicians welcomed the pact comparing it to that of Galmudug. Reliable sources in Nairobi reported Serar and the co. were coerced by the Kenyan Intelligence in to signing the deal with Madobe. However, this deal leads to nowhere.

First, the four gentlemen who reached the agreement are originally from the Somali Regional State in Ethiopia and are literally related. They represent only one clan out of the many clans that reside in Jubaland. The Kenyan politician, Mr. Farah Maalim, termed the deal as a “foreign deal” that was reached in a “foreign country” referring to the signatories as non-residents in Jubaland

Secondly, none of these parties has full control over the entire Jubaland regions, but only share the city of Kismayo, the interim capital of Jubaland. In that case, and even if we hail and support the so-called ‘unity deal’, where will it be implemented? In Galmudug, the ex-President, Ahmed Gelle “Xaaf” was in charge of the Mudug region and its capital Galkayo – a peace deal meant the handover of the entire region to the newly elected President Ahmed Abdi Kariye. Ahlu-Sunna-Wal-Jama was also in charge of Dhusomareb, the capital city of Galmudug before they were forcibly retired from the politics in Galmudug.       

Third, Mr. Madobe and his three brothers have left their allies behind and excluded them from the talks unlike Galmudug, where the deal was signed in the presence of all political stakeholders. Mr. Madobe could not even call his vice president as a courtesy to participate in the talks, let alone the representatives of other clans in his cabinet which would prove the deal worthless in a region that harbors more than 30 sub-clans.

Fourth, the timing of the deal is terrible. Mr. Madobe and the co. wasted eight (8) good months and exchanged accusations stationing themselves 2 kilometers away from each other in Kismayo without attempting to engage in dialogue, whereas in Galmudug, the parties have come together and settled their differences within 60 days after the elections. It is important to highlight that, the forces of the Somali National Army are now in full control of Gedo region and are expected to take over the Middle Juba region in a months’ time. Had they agreed in the beginning, the situation would have been different today, but the prolonged standoff between them meant the loss of their political leverage.

In addition to the above, the terms of the deal are unreal. The deal did not set a clear schedule for further negotiations with the political stakeholders on the ground and focused only on the participants’ personal political gains. The terms did not include merging the soldiers each of the signatories has at the moment in Kismayo. The terms urged the need for the FGS to support this deal, but did not mention any compromise Jubaland leaders would make in order to reach in to comprehensive agreement with the FGS.

The reactions to the unity deal

Dr. Liban Mohamed Olow, the spokesman of Jubaland’s Council for Change, has reacted to the unity deal and said that they are not aware of such talks. He stated that the supporters of Council for Change constitute 80% of the people in Jubaland, and would not endorse any deal with Ahmed Madobe, who committed crimes and injustices in the region even if two men from the Council decided to participate in the talks. Dr, Liban added – “I am in full support of the efforts of the FGS in restoring peace in Jubaland as its forces are advancing to take over the Middle Juba region including Bu’ale, the capital city of Jubaland that will enable the FGS to hold fair elections for Jubaland’s people” this is an example the talks were not inclusive.

Mohamed Abdikadir Hilal, the Deputy Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources in Somalia, who hails from Jubaland, tweeted that Ahmed Madobe has no presidential legitimacy in Jubaland to negotiate for meaningless agreements that could only escalate the situation to worse. On the other hand, Abdullahi Elmoge Hersi, the former Minister of Information, Posts and Telecommunication in Somalia, who ran for the presidential candidate in Jubaland alongside Serar and Hidig, said in an interview that these two politicians signed personal agreement with Ahmed Madobe, but should in no way be seen as okayed by the Council for Change. Mr. Hersi stressed the need for fair elections and comprehensive reform in Jubaland.

During the tenure of Madobe, the people in Jubaland have grown significantly more divisive and will undoubtedly continue to oppose the “illegitimate” unity deal struck by Madobe and the co. There is a sharp decline in the public support of Madobe. The government institutions were never established properly. The damaged infrastructures were never restored. Roads were never repaired.


It is very unfortunate that the Kenyan government seems to be destabilizing Somalia amid fears of loss of the maritime dispute case at the ICJ. Kenya hosts rivals and paramilitary groups against Somalia to weaken the FGS. At times, Kenya attacks the Somali National Intelligence releasing cheap propagandas. Kenya’s economic decline as a result of the Somalia’s Khat ban during the Covid19 era, and the shift of the foreign embassies and international organizations to Mogadishu made the government of Kenya feel the heat of the effectiveness of the current administration of the FGS.

I would urge the FGS to take speedy steps to make political reforms in Jubaland and launch inclusive dialogue amongst the people who suffered 30 years of instability and clan dictatorship. On the other hand, Madobe, for the sake of Jubaland people, should relinquish the power to the hands of the people. Should he miscalculates the situation and opts otherwise, his fate would be at stake when the FGS captures Kismayo. Either he ends up in a prison cell, like his friend Abdi Iley of the Somali Regional State of Ethiopia, or meets humiliating and grisly end.

Nasrudin Mohamed Ahmed