The East African region will be keenly watching the build-up to the August Jubaland presidential election, as leaders assess its impact on the region’s stability.
Several candidates have declared interest and more are expected to do so in the coming days in an election that will be a litmus test for the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) impact in Jubaland since the capture of Kismayo from Al Shabaab in 2012 by the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF).
Jubaland elections have also attracted interest among other Somalia Federal states and the West because of its rich resources.
Kenya will be interested in Jubaland election since the contested Kenya and Somalia maritime boundary crisis is within the state and the fact that it is a frontline state, therefore a national security concern.
Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed Islam aka Madobe, the Ras Kamboni Brigade leader and KDF’s ally who helped root out Al Shabaab, was elected President in 2013 and has been in power ever since.
Clan dynamics will come to the forefront yet again, as the Ogaden, represented by Madobe, will be facing a challenge mainly from the Marehan, who are the majority in Jubaland. The Majertein, Digil/Mirrifle, Dir and Sheikhaal clans also have candidates seeking to unseat Mr Madobe.
The competition for Somalia’s richest State – both agriculturally and economically – will not only be determined by the incumbent’s stronghold but by the new entrants’ promises to the electorate, who have tasted the benefits of some semblance of order.
Those who have declared interest in the race has all been critical to Madobe’s administration. Among them is former Somalia Information minister Abdullahi Ciilmooge Hirsi – Madobe’s relative and close ally Sheikh Dahir.
Reliable sources indicate that the western world and some East African counties favour Abdirazak Fartaag (pictured), an anti-corruption crusader. His father was among the first and longest-serving senators in Somalia (1956-1969).
Fartaag plans to introduce accountability in Jubaland’s administration. He has worked in different capacities, including consulting for African governments, as well as for the private sector and Non-Governmental Organisations.
While Madobe is touted to have improved security in Kismayo and adjacent areas, consequently bolstering trade in the port city, his administration has been accused of abetting corruption. Madobe’s Ogaden clan is also accused of marginalising others and seizing all resources.
Early this month Madobe, who has resisted the Somalia Federal Republic’s control, visited President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, who has been an adversary, to seek support for his second term bid. He has also been meeting Somali leaders at home and in Kenya’s Garissa region.
Madobe is said to have picked a seven-man election commission that is scheduled to announce the candidates and registration process, the election dates and venue of the election.
However, it is mostly illiterate clan elders organised in clan affiliation that elect delegates who then elect MPs.
It is the MPs that then elect the state president through a secret ballot. Eye of the Western world and now East Africa, Fartaag comes from a Somalia political family that hails from the Marehan clan.
“Fartaag catches the eye of the international community mainly as a result of his resilience in the fight against corruption, democracy and bad governance, which he has consistently done through whistleblowing and publishing of reports on the vices being experienced in Jubaland,” said a source who sought anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the Press.
“Kenyan authorities, on the other hand, are looking into Fartaag mainly because of his anti-corruption stance, a move they themselves (Kenyans) have passionately embraced of late”.
Between 2009 and 2011, he served as the Head of the Public Finance Management Unit (PFMU-Somalia) under the direct authority of two prime ministers of the Transitional Federal Government in Somalia.