Somalia: Jubbaland's Madobe Risks Isolation Over Ally

Somali parliament (file photo).

Jubbaland could find itself isolated because of continued resistance to co-operation with Mogadishu.

Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo has been reaching out to Puntland and Galmudug, leaving out Jubbaland as the only state committed to non-co-operation that was declared by the five states in September 2018.

President Farmaajo has convinced Hirshabelle to co-operate with Mogadishu, while he got his ally elected in Southwest in December 2018.

In Puntland, the UK and other international partners have convinced President Said Abdullahi Dani to open dialogue with President Farmaajo on electoral modalities that are acceptable to both the state and Mogadishu.

After being elected in August against the wishes of President Farmaajo and Ethiopia in August this year, Jubbaland president Ahmed Islam, commonly known as Sheikh Madobe, and his people are facing travel challenges after Mogadishu banned direct flights to Kismayu from the region.

The sanction has hit business as air flight is the only guarantee of safe movement within the southern regions as the area between Kismayu and Mogadishu is controlled by Al Shabaab.

Mogadishu was not happy that Sheikh Madobe who has differences with President Farmaajo since he was elected in 2017 was re-elected in August with the support of Kenya, which sees Jubbaland as buffer zone against Al Shabaab.

Sheikh Madobe won a second term by garnering 56 of the 74 votes cast by MPs.

Soon after the election, Mogadishu rejected the outcome and imposed restrictions on flights to and from Kismayu, requiring them to pass through Mogadishu.

According to the leader of Wadajir Party, Abdirahman Warsame, President Farmaajo has been trying to install a leader in Jubbaland who he can work with.

International pressure from the UN, the US and Qatar for inclusive elections forced the Jubbaland Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to extend voter registration by 72 hours.

Sheikh Madobe is also not in charge of the entire Jubbaland as he controls Kismayu and its outskirts, while the rest of the state, especially Middle Jubba, is controlled by Al Shabaab.

Jubbaland is made up three regions; Geddo, Middle Juba and Lower Juba, with some five districts still in the hands of Al Shabaab.

While Jubbaland is still considered a relatively safe state, the influence of Al Shabaab means Sheikh Madobe cannot be his own man in deciding on co-operation with Mogadishu.

In November, Jubbaland vice president Mohamud Sayyid Adan was blocked by Ethiopian troops from visiting Bula Hawa, a Somali border town.

Abdallah Ahmed Ibrahim, the director of the East Africa Centre for Research and Strategic Studies, has said that Puntland President, Said Abdullahi Dani has been trying to convince President Farmaajo to accept Sheikh Madobe's re-election as some sort of face-saving mechanism.

"Since Farmaajo's preferred candidate lost the Jubbaland election, Sheikh Madobe will survive the Mogadishu onslaught with the support of local stakeholders. This might have a profound effect on President Farmaajo's re-election," said Mr Ibrahim.

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