14 February 2013

Somalia: Attacks Increase in Baidoa Following Regional Reshuffle

Baidoa, Somalia — Heavy fighting between Al Shabaab fighters and Somali government forces in Baidoa district left 5 dead and 10 injured in a string of attacks, that coincided with the Somali Federal Government's reshuffle of the regional administration in Bay region, Garowe Online reports.

Bay, Bakool and Hiraan regions of south central Somalia have seen a resurgence of deadly explosions and attacks waged by Al Shabaab fighters in recent weeks after a long period of calm. This resurrection of attacks is mainly concentrated in Baidoa, the administrative capital of Bay region. The attacks have escalated since last week's executive decision decreed the replacement of the Governor of Bay region Mr. Abdifatah Ibrahim Geesey.

Some Bay residents regarded the decision as a move by the Somali federal government to control and influence the outcome of the state formation process in the regions of Bay and Bakool. The move comes as regional authorities and residents of those regions were mobilizing constituents for a state formation conference.

Former Governor Geesey stated to the media that he was still the governor of the region despite a decree from the Somali Federal Government replacing Governor Geesey with Governor Abdi Adan Hasow. According to local sources, the new administration is worried of former Governor Geesey's authority in the region and mediation talks were initiated.

Last Monday, new regional officials assigned to Baidoa were unable to work due to the dispute between the previous and current regional administrations. A delegation from Mogadishu was sent to smooth things over.

According to confidential sources, talks between the two sides broke down once before but were again renewed. The source says that the tension is not stemming solely from former governor Geesey's refusal to step down but also from issues regarding state formation and security.

Ethiopian troops stationed in Baidoa, liberated the city from Al Shabaab last year ,however attacks have steadily increased over the past weeks.

Is the move by the Somali Federal Government and the recent insecurity in the region linked? GO asked one analyst if that was the case.

"I believe that it's too early to tell, terrorist cells like Al Shabaab, always take advantage of disputes between administration. That being said the central government needs to settle the issue as soon as possible or the situation may get out of hand," said Abdinasir Ahmed Mohamed a senior Somali political analyst.

Meanwhile, Speaker of Parliament Mohamed Osman Jawari traveled to Ethiopia on Wednesday and will meet with Ethiopian officials. In his first foreign trip, Speaker Jawari received an invitation to the country to discuss coordination and cooperation between the two countries' parliaments and other issues. Sources tell GO that the other issue Speaker Jawari will discuss with Ethiopian officials is the new administration in Bay region, which the government supports.

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