Ethiopia mediates Gedo leadership conflict in Somalia
MOGADISHU, Somalia – Authorities in Ethiopia successfully mediated a leadership dispute in Somalia’s Gedo region, it has emerged, months after federal authorities in the country clashed with local leaders in Jubaland, nearly degenerating into bloodshed.
Somalia’s government then, under the leadership of Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, deployed elite soldiers to the Gedo region where local leaders loyal to regional leader Ahmed Islam Mohamed Madobe were deposed, leading to endless conflicts that almost dismantled coordination.
Reports from Gedo indicate that a number of officials from the Somali region of Ethiopia crossed the border where they were mediating differences between regional governor Ahmed Bulle Gared and spy chief Bakal Koke, who have been arguing over sharing revenue from road taxes in the region.
Taxation in Somalia is not centralized given years of civil war and thus lack of coordination between the national and regional governments. In fact, even the al-Shabaab militants manage to collect colossal amounts of money from the local population, which helps them finance their illegal activities.
In a ceremony held in Dolow on Wednesday, both officials pledged to work together and end infighting that is hampering the administration’s ability to deliver essential services to residents of the region. The Gedo region is strategic to Ethiopia’s interests in Somalia.
Gedo has been used by the Ethiopian authorities as a buffer zone in the fight against Al-Shabaab, with the most recent being in August when Al-Shabaab struck eastern Ethiopia. Authorities in Addis Ababa reported that Somali regional troops and Ethiopian forces succeeded in neutralizing the group.
To improve the security situation in the country, Ethiopia has since succeeded in establishing the buffer zone and Wednesday’s decision to reconcile local leaders is believed to be a strategy to further neutralize the infiltration of Al-Shabaab, which usually exploits leadership conflicts to commit crimes.
While details of the meeting remain sketchy, the Ethiopians, like their Kenyan counterparts, have long fought for stability in neighboring Jubaland. Both Kenyan and Ethiopian troops are stationed in various towns across Jubaland where they have succeeded in removing Al-Shabaab.