30 December 2012

Somalia: PM Shirdon On 1,000 New Troops, Somaliland Dialogue and Jubaland Process

Mogadishu — Somalia's Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon has said the government has prepared 1,000 new troops to secure Mogadishu, while highlighting that the Somali government would pursue dialogue with Somaliland's separatist administration, Garowe Online reports.

Somali Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon speaks to Federal Parliament on Dec. 29, 2012, in Mogadishu

"The 1,000 new troops will prevent the return of illegal roadblocks in Mogadishu," Prime Minister Shirdon told Somali federal parliament during a Dec. 29 session. He added that the new government has "successfully removed illegal roadblocks which are obstacles to freedom of movement, security, and trade."

Continuing, Prime Minister Shirdon said that "Somali government forces, aided by AMISOM troops, took control of Jowhar town and the government has dispatched delegations to Kismayo and other regions. The government also plans to dispatch other new delegations to help establish an administration for the central regions."

On talks with Somaliland, Prime Minister Shirdon said that his government would take "immediate steps to resume dialogue process with Somaliland administration."

On Jubaland, Prime Minister Shirdon said: "The federal government delegation met with civil society in Kismayo. The government pledges to support removal of Al Shabaab from all towns of Jubaland and all regions of Somalia," adding: "It has been agreed between the federal government and civil society that the Somali federal government will take the lead in establishing Jubaland administration which will come from the people."

One political insider in Kismayo tells Garowe Online: "The Kismayo political group is actively pursuing the formation of Jubaland supported by local clans at a public convention. The delegation from Mogadishu came with a proposal of delaying the Jubaland convention for three months and appointing an interim administration from Mogadishu, and the Kismayo group rejected both proposals."

A Jubaland convention is scheduled to open in January 2013 in Kismayo, where local communities will convene and appoint parliament members and leaders of the emerging Jubaland state of Somalia.

Dialogue with Somaliland

The London Conference of Feb. 23, 2012, encouraged talks between Somali federal government and Somaliland administration. On June 2012, representatives from the two sides held a meeting in the UK followed by a face-to-face meeting on June 28, held in Dubai, between former TFG President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Somaliland leader Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo.

On June 20, Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole wrote a strong letter to the international community highlighting the "frequent onslaught of Somaliland's military aggressions" and "violent expansionist policies" in Sool and Sanaag regions of Puntland. President Farole warned against the "unlawful political marriage of convenience between Mogadishu and Hargeisa, which undermines the spirit and intent of the London Communiqué of 23 February 2012."

President Farole's letter declared that "Puntland will not recognize the talks that exclude Puntland" from the dialogue process.

It is not clear whether the Somali federal government will exclude Puntland representatives in the dialogue process with Somaliland, thereby igniting renewed political dispute in Somalia.

Somaliland, located in northwestern Somalia, unilaterally declared independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991 but has not been recognized internationally. Puntland and Somaliland have fought pitched battles over territory since 2002.

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