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Somalia’s Galmudug, battered by political crisis, elects new leader




Ahmed Abdi Kariye, a former state minister for public works, has been elected president of Somalia’s central state of Galmudug in an election that saw multiple delays and political wrangles.

Kariye, also known as Qorqor, who was backed by President Mohamed Farmajo and Prime Minster Hassan Kheyre, received 66 votes out of 77 votes cast by members of Galmudug State Assembly.

Kariye’s main rival, Abdirahman Odowaa – fronted by two former presidents – Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, withdrew from the contest and rejected the outcome, citing interference from the federal government in Mogadishu, which he said was planning to manipulate the election. Two other main contenders also withdrew from the race.
Galmudug parliament has 89 members, 20 of whom are drawn from Ahlu Sunnah wal Jama’a, a Sufi paramilitary group.

Galmudug’s election, which was to take place in July last year, has been postponed for months due to political wrangles among local political actors and the federal government and ‘technical challenges.’ The bone of contention was the composition of the local electoral commission, which the opposition parties including Ahlu Sunnah, said was handpicked by Mogadishu, a move they said was undermining democracy and could open the door for manipulation.

The election of Kariye indicates the seriousness of the Villa Somalia duo; President Farmajo and Premier Kheyre, of making sure their preferred candidates win in Somalia’s regional elections. Last week, another Villa Somalia-backed candidate won Galmudug parliamentary Speaker.

Somalia has five state governments, created under the country’s federal constitution, each maintain its own police and security forces, and have a degree of autonomy over their affairs, but are subject to the authority of the federal government.

The states and the federal governments have been engaged in disagreements, with the former announcing the suspension of ties with the government in Mogadishu.

In December 2018, Abdiazizi Mohamed, commonly known as Laftagaren, a former Water and Energy Minister, also backed by Villa Somalia, was elected leader of South West State after Mukhtar Robow Abu Manusr, a former al Shabab deputy leader and spokesman, seen as favourite to win was barred from running and later arrested. The government said Abu Mansur was a security threat and was subject to UN Security Council sanctions. Eleven people, including a parliamentarian, were killed in a protest violence that followed his arrest.

Kariye’s victory is seen as a boost for Farmajo and Kheyre who are seeking reelection in 2021. Three out of the country’s five state governments are seen as allies of Mogadishu.

In 2019, Villa Somalia failed to install or get its preferred candidates elected in Jubbaland, a southern state, and Puntland, in the northeast. In August 2019, Jubbaland state in southern Somalia reelected Ahmed Islam, popularly known as Ahmed Modobe as its leader, but the government in Mogadishu and the local opposition rejected the result, saying it was manipulated. Mogadishu was backing Madobe’s main rival who later withdrew from the contest.

The legitimacy of the new Galmudug administration is in serious jeopardy and a prolonged conflict is potentially high in Galmudug. The state already has two other opposing administrations, one led by Ahlu Sunnah, and another led by the region’s former leader Ahmed Gelle.

The election of Kariye could also lead to a political crisis and possibly violence by those opposed to the electoral process, including politicians and clan elders who wield immense influence. It could also result further disintegration of the state into fiefdoms run by sub-clans, who have engaged in armed conflict with one another for long. Galmudug has 11 main sub-clans, more than any other state. Galmudug is the home state of President Famajo, Prime Minister Kheyre, and the former immediate President Hassan Mohamud, and it is the defecto epicenter of Somalia’s politics. The state was established in 2015, but since then it had four presidents.

To avoid armed conflict and anew circle of political crisis, the new administration, with the backing of the federal government, should accommodate others and a power sharing deal could calm the situation, possibly the creation of a premier or chief minister.

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Farmajo names committee of inquiry to investigate disappearance of former spy Ikran Tahlil




Somali president Mohamed Farmajo has appointing a five-member committee to investigate the disappearance of former spy agent Ikran Tahlil.

“I hereby appoint a five-Member Commission of inquiry Chaired by the Attorney-General and deputized by Head of Military Court to expedite investigations on the case of IKRAN TAHLIL and to hand over the findings and evidence to responsible legal institutions for the execution of Justice.”

In the presidential decree, Farmajo appointed the Attorney-General to lead the fact-finding mission. The Armed Forces Court Attorney General is also a member of the committee. The three committee members will be nominated later by the Somali Police Force Commander, the Commander of the Somali National Army and Col. Yasin Abdulahi Mohamud, his new appointee Director-General of the National Intelligence and Security Agency.

The statement added that Ikran’s case was a “sensitive one that needs a thorough investigation.”

Farmajo instructed the commission to submit its investigative reports to the relevant authorities, although there will undoubtedly be demands to make the findings of any report public. There will also likely be apprehension to Somalia’s intelligence agency being a part of the investigation. Many lawmakers have called on an independent inquiry into Ikran’s murder.

Farmajo declared that the decree came into effect immediately after he signed it.

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Qorqor and Laftagareen try to bring Farmajo and Roble together




The presidents of Galmudug, Ahmed Abdi Karie Qoor Qoor his South West State counterpart and Abdiaziz Hassan Mohamed Laftagareen have taken the role of mediators to find a solution the wrangle between President Mohamed Farmajo and his Prime Minister Mohamed Roble.

The two  met with Farmajo and Roble separately, and urged both parties to refrain from further action that would escalate the tense situation.

Reports indicate that the president and the prime minister have accepted the mediation, although each has developed conditions attached to the talks.

Prime Minister Roble insisted that Commander Bashir Goobe was the commander of NISA, and President Farmajo emphasized that the steps taken by the Prime Minister were invalid.

The meeting is expected to continue on Friday. The two presidents are hopeful that the two top officials will finally be reconciled so that their differences do not affect the election process.

The intervention comes amidst heightened political tensions between Farmajo and Roble which could threaten the fragile security of the Horn of Africa nation.

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Finland swears-in its first Somali-born member of parliament




Suldaan Said Ahmed has been officially sworn in as a Member of Parliament, becoming Finland’s first Somali-background MP, according to Finnish news oulrt Yle News.

The Helsinki city councillor replaces party colleague and outgoing MP Paavo Arhinmäki (Left), who left Parliament to take up a role as Helsinki Deputy Mayor.

Said Ahmed told Yle News that he still “cannot quite believe” he is now an MP.

“If someone had told the refugee-background, single-mother raised, teenage Suldaan, that you would one day become a Finnish legislator, I would not have believed it,” he said.

“There were no people like me in Parliament when I was growing up.”

He added that he intends to help “build a better Finland” during his time in Parliament.

“I want a Finland where every young person, regardless of their background or starting point, can pursue their dreams. I hope that my selection here will send a message to young people that anything is possible,” he added.

Said Ahmed and two other incoming MPs — Atte Kaleva (NCP) and Jari Kinnunen (NCP) — were officially announced as Members of Parliament by parliamentary speaker Anu Vehviläinen (Cen) at a plenary session on Thursday afternoon.

Kaleva and Kinnunen are replacing party colleagues Anna-Kaisa Ikonen and Juhana Vartiainen, who became mayors of Tampere and Helsinki respectively.

Said Ahmed was born in Somalia in 1993 and moved to Finland in 2008. He was elected to Helsinki City Council at the municipal elections in 2017, garnering over 1,000 votes, and was re-elected to the council at the last municipal election in June, increasing his vote count to 1,634.

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