Somalia: Somali PM Roble Visits Kismayu in Electoral Shuttle Diplomacy

A delegate from Somaliland votes during the electoral process to choose Somaliland's representatives to the Upper House of the Federal Parliament in Mogadishu, Somalia, on January 8, 2017.

Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble made an unannounced two-day trip to Kismayu in Jubbaland federal state to continue preparations for the upcoming indirect elections.

Accompanied by a big government delegation in tow, the Wednesday to Thursday trip was significant as Jubbaland faces a race against time to reconcile wrangling communities in Gedo region near the border with Kenya, and have them agree on venues for elections and how to nominate delegates for the vote.

Jubbaland President Ahmed Mohamed Islam Madobe welcomed PM Roble at Kismayu airport.

The town was once a forte for al-Shabaab, but this time a guard of honour was on hand to receive the Premier before he headed to the state's presidential palace.

PM Roble said the aim of the trip was to solve the problem associated with the holding of the indirect election in Gedo region, particularly in Garbaharrey town, the region's capital.

Ever since Madobe was re-elected president of Jubbaland State in a controversial vote in August 2019, the control of Gedo region had been a bone of contention between the state and the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS).

Gedo together with Lower Jubba and Middle Jubba, is one of the regions united under Jubbaland State of Somalia. Jubbaland itself is one the five states that are members of the Federal Government of Somalia.

Within days of Madobe being announced president, the vast majority of the leaders in Gedo region opposed his authority and the FGS sent troops to support the Gedo administration that chose to be independent from Madobe. The situation created mistrust and tit-for-tat between Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo and Jubbaland's Madobe.

The misunderstandings then became one of the difficult issues at hand in the choosing of an election model for Somalia.

After several rounds of discussions by the National Consultative Forum (NCF), a council made of President Farmaajo, the five presidents of the Federal Member States (FMS)--Puntland, Galmudug, Hirshabelle, South West and Jubbaland--plus Mogadishu's Banadir Authority, leaders on September 17, 2020 agreed to an indirect election for Somalia.

Every state was to hold its clan-based election in its two main urban centres. Unfortunately, how to hold an election in Garbaharrey town, the capital of Gedo region, about 450 southwest of Mogadishu, had become a problem. While the Jubbaland leader vowed to lead the election there, Farmaajo indicated that it was better for the region's rebel authority to manage the election.

Things changed when Farmaajo delegated the task of leading the election process to the Prime Minister on May 1 this year.

On May 29, an NCF meeting chaired by the PM approved a team named by Roble that comprised of four ministers from federal member states, except for Jubbaland to find a solution to the Garbaharrey town matter.

According to the signed agreement, special committee chaired by the Minister of Internal Affairs of Hirshaballe State Mohamed Ali Adle with the membership consisting of his counterparts from Puntland, South West and Galmudug states was assigned to reconcile the stalemate in Gedo region. Jubbaland was left out for neutrality.

The new arrangement seems to have generated an air of optimism.

Abdi Jama, a resident in Mogadishu who hails from Gedo region, said, "PM Roble's trip to Kismayu town is an ice breaking move to the reconciliation efforts in Gedo region and creation of an enhanced squaring off environment."

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