Kenya: Inside the Kenya-Ethiopia Battle for Jubbaland

Ahmed Madobe President of Jubbaland

The vicious battle between Kenya and Ethiopia has played out in the open, and also brought to the fore the high stakes that foreign countries have on the Jubbaland elections scheduled for tomorrow.

The allies-turned foes have high stakes in Jubaland because they both have troops in the United Nations backed African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), the former based in Kismayu sector and the later in Gedo.

Kenya also sees Jubbaland as a buffer zone in the war against terror. There are talks that should Jubbaland go the Somalialand, then it would be a strong ally especially looking at the port business in Kismayo and the dsputed oil fileds.

But whereas Kenya supports Madobe's re-election, Ethiopia wants him out because he was a one-time ally who was born in the Ogaden region of that country, but later abandoned them when he moved south to Jubaland.

He worked closely with Ethiopia when was a member of the now disbanded Islamic Courts Union (ICU) but changed when he started working with Kenya in the fight against terrorism after he was first elected in 2013.

Somalia has itself declared that it will not recognise the elections results until the traditional elders, who are selecting members of the new parliament are registered with the interior ministry. Apart from Madode, the other candidates are Mohamed Omar Gedi, Abdirahman Ahmed Rabi, Abdi Hiis Udan, Mohamed Abdille Magan and Anab Mohamed.

Another worry is that candidates who were ruled out of the contest by the electoral agency have formed the Union of Presidential Candidates for Change in Jubaland and vowed to hold parallel elections.

They, like the Federal government in Mogadsishu, want the Council of Elders that will pick the MPs reconstituted afresh because it is allegedly biased in favour of Madobe.

According to the Somalia Constitution, the incumbent president appoints the electoral commission which in turn appoints the elders' council from representatives of major clans in Jubaland. The commission also sets electoral rules.

As a member of the Islamic Courts Union, he was closer to Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti but although his relationship with Kenya is much younger, it is more strategic and about the shared destiny.

Dr Khannenje argued that the election of President Mohammed Abdullahi alias Farmajo and his team in 2017, brought about a a new leadership in Mogadishu that is supported by the US in the belief that leadership should be from the centre.

He said this is ao the position taken by their Qatar and Turkey allies and, to some extent, the European Union.

The manoeuvres Mogadishu is involved in to ensure Madobe is not elected started during Siad Barre's era when the Marehan clan ethnocracy dominated and marginalised other tribes, among them Madobe's Ogaden clan.

The entry of Middle East politics in Somalia has also monetised politics to an extend that an MP in the country now earns much more than US counterparts and Kenyan legislators.

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