Jubbaland Fiasco

December 16, 2019   

Jubbaland state of Somalia, located in one of the most contested area in Somalia during the civil war, has held an election that have seen Ahmed Madoobe get elected as president. Another election held in the same city had another president got elected, and yes, one more president had turned up 2 days later to feed the frenzy. And as always, the federal government weighed in and called the elections null. The opposition figures in the country joined in to congratulate president Ahmed Madoobe, who in turn welcomed the opposition figures to his inauguration ceremony. Did you guessed it right?

The federal government wasn’t invited to that said ceremony. Thus, the federal government banned all flights to Kismayo, and went further, It has stopped a former president Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed travelling to Kismayo for the inauguration. Jubbalnd postpones the ceremony until further notice. The federal government suspends all flights carrying dignataries attending the ceremony in Kismayo until further notice. Jubbaland buys/leases a private jet, registered in Kenya to Jubba Airways and transports opposition dignataries to Kismayo. The federal government complains to ICAO about Kenya’s involvement in clearing that flight to Kismayo. This in turn deepens the rift between Kenya and Somalia which are locked in a bitter dispute over the Indian Ocean border case which is before the International Court of Justice. And so the plot thickens, if you were following my commentary until now.

In the midst of all these, the international community spearhead by James Swan, Special representative for the Secretary General of the United Nations to Somalia, has been travelling forth and back for over a month now and with nothing to show for it. He has been meeting the so-called “stockholders” and kept releasing press releases that confused and convoluted the situation in Kismayo. As the old saying goes, “ The perfect bureaucrat is the man who manages to make no decisions and escape all responsibility.” And I’m afraid, that’s exactly whats happening right now.

What’s the way out?

For a start, the international community need to take a more active role in the negotiations between warring parties, the federal government and the Jubbaland administration. They should identify core priorities and ask both parties to work together to achieve intended targets, they should also tie it to the financial aid both administrations recieve from international donors. This will replace the current arrangement where winners take it all approach and Somali leaders are disincentivized to work together. The only downside to the these proposal is if Somali leaders fail to work together, the losers will be the Somali public and at best worsens the current humanitarian situation in the country and at worst create a PR disater for international donors and exacerbate the so called “donor fatigue”.

Besides, I would like to see Villa Somalia end their policy of brinkmanship with federal member states and act in a more conciliatory fashion, by working with the member states in building up institutions, harmonizing the tax system of the country and consulting with them in matters concerning them. I also hope federal member states such as Puntland, promote unity over division, break away from their policy of undermining and sometimes working in conflict with the federal government. After all, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Finally, It goes without saying that Jubbaland needs change. The administration has made some positive achievement but Jubbaland state lacks behind other regions of Somalia in education, economic development, accessibility to health and justice. Whoever goes on to form the new administration after this fiasco, needs to come up with coherent plan and policy in developing the state, building up of institutions and judicial reforms should take priority over other concerns such as military offensives and liberation of new front. What good does that do when you can’t even provide basic amenities in Kismayo?

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