KISMAYO, Somalia – The long-standing standoff between the federal government of Somalia and the state of Jubaland could escalate in the coming weeks over the continued stay of the Somali national army [SNA] troops in the region, over a month after both sides reached a preliminary agreement on the withdrawal of the soldiers.
Since January, SNA troops have been cooperating with the Ethiopian national defense forces [ENDF] has tightened its grip on Gedo, a region that should primarily be under Kenya’s defense forces [KDF] under the management of AMISOM, something that has created enmity between the two parties.
President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo deployed troops to protect Somalia’s “territorial integrity” when it emerged that Jubaland security forces were being aided by the KDF team in violation of Somalia’s constitution, a demand that Kismayo authorities have often rejected.
Speaking at the opening of Parliament’s third session on Tuesday, President Ahmed Madobe reprimanded the federal government for continuing to stay in the troops and insisted that no elections would take place in Gedo if the SNA continues to remain in the region.
“President Ahmed Mohamed Islam chaired the opening of the third session of the second parliament of the Jubaland state of Somalia. In his speech, the president addressed issues including the state security situation and the upcoming 2020/2021 elections in Somalia,” the Jubaland presidency said.
Madobe, who works closely with the KDF, said SNA troops could interfere in the election by installing administrators contrary to the wishes of the people. He called on the Mogadishu administration to implement the agreement signed last month.
“We will not have elections in the Gedo region if the SNA troops continue to hang around,” the president said below MPs, adding: “This is not what we imagined and we must continue to tell each other the truth. integration in Somalia. “
He added: “For this election to take place, we must ensure that the soldiers are handed over to my administrators. We can not agree on anything, but some people continue and delay implementation. We are not cowards and this remains our position for now. “
Last month, sources told Axadlethat Farmajo had assured Madobe that the troops would leave Gedo as part of the pre-election event that led to the signing of the historic agreement. All five states and the federal government decided on the constituency model for elections, which are expected to start in December.
But Jubaland maintained that in order for the election to take place, the Somali soldiers had to hand over to administrators who were ousted as troops seized several cities in the fragile region. Some of the cities are said to be under the administration of Ethiopian troops who are not AMISOM, something that further irritates the Jubaland administration.
Madobe’s re-election was opposed by the Mogadishu administration in August 2019, leading to the protracted strife that culminated in the deployment of national troops. Earlier this year, SNA troops launched a fierce shootout with Jubaland’s security forces in a crisis in which KDF is said to have participated in part.
In addition to Kismayo, the election of federal parliamentarians is expected to be held in Garbaharey, the capital of Gedo, but the latest reaction from Madobe may delay the plans. Jubaland, like all other states, is expected to hold elections to the 10th parliament through an improved clan-based system.
On Jubaland’s unity, Madobe said he has delayed the formation of a government, reaching out to all stakeholders for a “government with national unity”. The region has been without a substantial government since 2019, when Madobe’s re-election was challenged by Farmajo, who will also defend his seat in February 2021.