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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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What comes next after Janan’s surrender?




By Siyad Abdigedi

The surrender of Abdirashid Janan to the Federal Government of Somalia ushered in a period of calm for the citizens of Gedo. Residents of Mandera and Beled Hawo towns, which are located on the border of Kenya and Somalia, respectively, feel a big weight lifted off their shoulders, they no longer have to worry about a potential conflict of armies, which has always been reported to result in civilian casualties.

Just a few months ago, an aggressive dawn assault by Janan’s men on the Somalia federal army in Beled Hawo resulted in the killing of an entire family of six, with only the mother surviving the attack. A number of Janan’s men were also captured.

Janan, a former Jubaland state government security minister, was detained in Mogadishu in August 2019 for suspected human rights violations but fled in January 2020 and had been on the run before his recent surrender.

The surrender was secretly orchestrated by Janan’s loyalists and Somali Chief spy Fahad Yassin. Janan was later fired from his position as a security minister by Jubaland’s leader, Ahmed Madobe, for surrendering to the federal government in Mogadishu. He was flown to Mogadishu and met with top security officials before handing over his militia and weapons days later as talks between him and the federal government continued.

The Federal Government of Somalia and the administration of Jubbaland have been at odds. The Farmajo administration had previously rejected Madobe’s re-election but later accepted its legitimacy to serve as a transitional government for two years.

Possible results of Janan-Mogadishu negotiations

Rub my back, I rub yours, will most definitely be the compromise between the two parties. In return for cutting ties with Madobe’s camp, Mogadishu can grant him amnesty from his case.

The surrender of Janan to Mogadishu represents a significant political breakthrough for Farmajo because it ensures the stability of the Gedo region. Janan was a crucial figure in Jubbaland administration, and his surrender, along with his forces, weakens Madobe’s camp morale. He not only defected with troops and arms, but also with secrets, which is a critical asset in countering Ahmed Madobe.

Farmajos’ administration could also be planning to advance troops in the near future in order to capture Buale town with the help of Janan and his men and make it Jubbaland’s capital city. Middle Jubba is made up of four districts: Buaale, Sakow, Salagle, and Jilib, all of which are now under the rule of Al Shabaab. Planting an alternate regional government here would undermine the Madobe administration, which is headquartered in the port of Kismayu.

The talks between the two could follow a separate path, yielding a myriad of other possible outcomes that would undoubtedly have a significant effect on Jubbaland politics in the coming months.

Siyad is a security analyst with an emphasis on the Horn of Africa.


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Maritime Dispute

ICJ to hear Somalia, Kenya maritime case despite Nairobi withdrawal




The International Court of Justice is scheduled to begin hearing the oral arguments in the maritime dispute between Somalia and Kenya, despite the latter pulling out of the proceedings in protest after being denied a fourth extension to postpone the case.

In a rare move, Kenya informed the court earlier this week that it would not be participating in the oral arguments, citing its unpreparedness brought on by the global pandemic and the presence of Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, a Somali national, on the international court’s bench.

Somalia’s legal team will present its oral arguments first, between 3 PM and 6 PM on Monday and will continue its presentation on Tuesday between 3 PM and 4:30 PM.

The ICJ will hold the hearings in a hybrid format – another feature Kenya objected to – in light of the COVID pandemic. The hearings will be aired on a Livestream on the court’s website and UN Web TV.

Somalia launched legal proceedings against Kenya at the international court based in The Hague in August 2014 after failing to settle the issue through diplomatic channels. Kenya questioned whether the court had jurisdiction to hear the case, pointing to the 2009 MOU signed with Somalia’s then Minister for National Planning and International Cooperation, Abdirahman Abdishakur. The court rejected that claim and ruled in June 2019 that the court was within its legal rights to adjudicate the case. Since then, the issue has been delayed and postponed several times at Kenya’s request.

At stake is a potentially lucrative, triangular stretch of 100,000 square kilometres of offshore territory believed rich in hydrocarbons and fish.

Despite Kenya’s withdrawal, the ICJ can still proceed with the case and render a verdict since Kenya has already submitted its written arguments to the court. The ruling cannot be appealed, but its enforcement relies on the UN Security Council, of which Kenya is a non-permanent member.

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Maritime Dispute

Kenya withdraws from ICJ maritime case with Somalia




Kenya has notified the International Court of Justice that it will not participate in the maritime case against Somalia just a day before it is scheduled to begin. Kenya has cited the court’s perceived bias and its unwillingness to delay the case – for a fourth time – due to the pandemic as the main reason for withdrawing from the legal proceedings.

Kenya’s Attorney General, Paul Kihara Kariuki, notified the ICJ of the decision to pull out in a letter written on March 11 to Phillippe Gautier, the court’s registrar.

“Kenya wishes to inform the court, through the Registrar, that it shall not be participating in the hearings in the case herein, should the same proceed from March 15, 2021, as presently scheduled,” the letter from Kenya’s attorney general states.”

Despite Kenya’s withdrawal, the ICJ can still proceed with the case and render a verdict since Kenya has already submitted its written arguments to the court.

Kenya, who referred to the move as “unprecedented in its history in relation to any international adjudication mechanism,” told the court that its latest legal team did not have adequate time to prepare for the case. Various Kenyan media outlets reported that top-level international lawyers were brought in to lead the maritime case in late February 2021, just weeks after the court rejected Kenya’s request to have the maritime delimitation case with Somalia postponed for the fourth time. Kenya added that the global pandemic had stripped it of financial resources to fund the case.

“The consequence of this is that Kenya and its legal team were deprived of the opportunity of having necessary preparatory meetings and engagements, ” Mr. Kariuki states.

In addition to the refusal to postpone the proceedings further, the letter to the ICJ cited further causes to justify its withdrawal from the international court.

Kenya objects to the hybrid format the hearings will be held in due to the current COVID pandemic, although some members of the court will attend the oral proceedings in person. Kenya argued that since its defence is based on demonstrations, the current format is “unsuitable for the hearing of a case as complex and as important as the present one.” The court said that the representatives of the parties involved in the case would participate either in person or by video link.

“Since the case is not urgent for any reason, Kenya least expected that the court would make this into the first cause to heard on its merits via video link, despite one party’s sustained, well-grounded objections, Kenya stated.

In building its case for withdrawal, Kenya wrote to the ICJ that one of its jurists, Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, could potentially curry favour in support of Somalia. Yusuf, a Somali national was President of the Court until February this year .

“Kenya’s concerns and perception of unfairness and injustice in this matter are exacerbated by the inexplicable rejection of Kenya’s preliminary objections to this court’s jurisdiction and the dismissal of the request for the recusal of Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, given his past exposure, on behalf of Somalia, o the issues in this case. This is notwithstanding the fact that Kenya has taken extensive measures that are illustrative of its good faith and seriousness in defending this case, including by filing pleadings within the timelines directed by the court.”

Somalia launched legal proceedings against Kenya at the international court based in The Hague in August 2014 after talks with Kenya failed to settle the dispute. The case has fuelled the diplomatic fallout between the two East African neighbours.

Somalia dispatched its team led by Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Guled last week. Guled expressed confidence that his country was winning the case.

“Our duty is to unite and defend our land and our real estate, which is a historic responsibility and the most precious legacy we will leave to future generations of Somalis,” said the deputy prime Minister before departing from Mogadishu.

The ICJ is tasked with deciding who has jurisdiction over the 62,000 square-mile triangle in the Indian Ocean, which is believed to be rich in hydrocarbons. Neither party can appeal the decision. The court will then rely on the UN Security Council, of which Kenya is a non-permanent member, to enforce the ruling

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