23 February 2013

Somalia: Jubaland Convention Delayed, Clashes in Kismayo

Kismayo — Armed clashes broke out between government forces and armed militia inside the southern port city of Kismayo on Saturday, leading to at least 9 people killed, on a day the Jubaland convention opening was delayed, Garowe Online reports.

Moallim Mohamed Ibrahim, spokesman for the Jubaland convention organizing committee, told Somali media that the opening day for the Jubaland convention opening has been pushed from Feb. 23 to Feb. 26, 2013.

Mr. Ibrahim indicated that the convention opening was delayed to give more time to Somali Federal Government to send its representatives to attend the Jubaland convention in Kismayo.

The convention is expected to bring together 500 delegates from Lower Jubba, Middle Jubba and Gedo regions, to form 'Jubaland State' in accordance with the Somali Federal Constitution.

Clashes in Kismayo

According to local sources in Kismayo, clashes broke out Saturday after armed militia attacked the central police station. The armed militia was "aiming to free an inmate" who was arrested during Friday security operations where by 50 men suspected of links to Al Shabaab were arrested, sources added.

At least 9 people

Sources said Kenyan-AMISOM troops and Somali government forces intervened in the clashes and eased the tension in the port city. Kismayo residents say that tension has eased in the city following the intervention by allied forces.

Kismayo's telecommunications network was temporarily disconnected as government forces conducted security operations, targeting members of Al Shabaab anti-government group.

The interim administration in Kismayo has not issued any public remarks regarding Saturd ay 's armed clashes.

Mogadishu 'sabotaging Jubaland'

Local sources have told Garowe Online that Somali officials in Mogadishu are "actively sabotaging" the opening of Jubaland convention. Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has issued public remarks opposing Jubaland formation, and instead demanding that Mogadishu appoint a "governor" for the region, a move that critics say is a violation of the Somali Federal Constitution.

Somali officials in Mogadishu have "canceled" a flight that was to transport delegates from Garbaharey, capital of Gedo region, who were to take part of the Jubaland convention in Kismayo.

Somali goverment sources have also told Garowe Online that Horn Air Aviation Services - a new airline company that has been operating domestic flights connecting Gedo, Kismayo, Baidoa, Mogadishu and Puntland - has been grounded at the Mogadishu airport and the airline company's license "has been revoked for unknown reasons".

One company official said: "Our flight service was connecting Jubaland and Puntland by air service , among other regio ns of Somalia, and some politicians in Mogadishu see this as a threat." Somali government officials have not publicly commented on this new development.

The community led Jubaland state formation process has been underway for the past few years and has come under pressure by Somali government officials in Mogadishu, who have opposed the state formation process, despite the legitimacy of state-building under the country's Federal Constitution.

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