Hassan Sheikh Mohamud sounds out Kenyatta
The Indian Ocean Newsletter
June 06, 2013
The recent visit to Kenya of Somalian president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was motivated in part by concern over the ambiguity of the Kenya authorities about Jubaland, the autonomous state in waiting in southern Somalia with its president, Ras Kamboni Brigade leader Ahmed Mohamed Islam, better known as Madobe. After several failed attempts to discuss the subject with his Kenyan opposite number, Uhuru Kenyatta, President Mohamud finally got his way at a meeting with Kenyatta at the Sagana State Lodge in Nyeri on June 4.
According to our information, the Somalian president told Kenyatta that relations between their two countries risked deteriorating if Kenya continued to give clandestine support to Madobe and his plan to set up an autonomous Jubaland state. Kenyatta hardly reassured him, however, in affirming that he was in favour of the establishment of a united, pacified federal Somalian republic, but also of that of a Jubaland which could serve as a security buffer along the frontier between Kenya and Somalia.
The only concession Kenyatta made to President Mohamud was to promise to be more vigilant in future regarding Madobe`s behaviour towards Mogadishu. He said nothing, however, about the offshore oil permits granted to Western companies by Kenya, which, according to Somalia, encroach into its territorial waters (ION n°1336).
© Copyrights 2013 Indigo Publications All Rights Reserved
New Dawn for Jubaland As Madobe Gets Down to Business
by Dominic Wabala
May 28, 2013
May 28, 2013 (The Star/All Africa Global Media) -- From a jungle green outfit clad militia leader spotting a `heena` dyed beard to a formal grey suit clad President, the newly elected President of Jubaland state, Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed Islam alias Madobe, is a transformed man who has come a long way.
He has fought against al Shabaab insurgents for over two years from Dhobley on the Kenya/Somalia border, to Afmadhow, Ras Kamboni, Biibi, Hosingow, Buale, Tabda, Jillib, Oddo, Fafadun, Beles Qooqani, Amuma, Afgoye, Dinsoor and Baradheere alongside KDF and the weak Somalia National Army.
As he drives into the Kismayu International Airport which serves as the African Union Amisom headquarters in the region in his green four wheel drive Tata Turbo 2.5 diesel engine escorted by a Toyota Land Cruiser on which 10 of his fighters are precariously patched, Madobe obviously knows that his enemies still lurk in the shadows ready to take pot shots at him.
After all, three other clan leaders have declared themselves the elected leaders of the Jubaland state which has professed allegiance to the Somalia Federal Government although President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has refused to recognise the new state which was formed on May 15 at the Kismayu University after a four-year process.
He is among the few people in Somalia who can be driven into the Amisom camp in Kismayu without undergoing the rigorous military checks manned by both the Ras Kamboni Brigade fighters and the Amisom troops.
A man with a penchant to wage war with anyone he disagrees with, Sheikh Madobe has fought many battles with and against the Islamic Courts Union, Ethiopian troops and al Shabaab insurgents until May 15 when he was declared President of Jubaland. He once controlled the port of Kismayu before being routed out by the Ethiopian forces.
A former member of the Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys led Hisbul Islam, Sheikh Madobe formed Ras Kamboni brigade with an estimated fighting force of about 800 and has earned respect of the residents because of his resilience to protect them from al Shabaab.
In an interview with journalists, Madobe says the process began with Igad`s Grand Stabilization for Southern Somalia at the beginning of 2012 through a council of ministers and heads of states Summit that facilitated dialogue between the stakeholders in Gedo, Middle Juba and Lower Juba for an all inclusive administration for Jubaland.
“I express our allegiance to the Federal Somalia government of which we are a member state and hope that the Central government supports the choice of the people. The remaining task is electing of MPs and formation of Jubaland house of elders and a cabinet for the state. The second is to liberate the remaining areas from al Shabaab and embark on issues like social welfare, women and youth empowerment as well as building the economy,” the newly elected president who was flanked by his deputy, General Abdullahi Shekh Fartaag clad in a blue jeans trouser, the Muslim prayer cap and brown leather shoes.
A modest leader, Madobe invited us to lunch in a dried coconut leaves thatched structure adjacent to air conditioned prefab buildings that are $200 (Sh16,600) a night rooms being constructed amidst sandbags and bastions at the airport for foreign visitors.
He shares fried goat meat, rice and deep fried fish fillet meal with all of us under the watchful eye of his dark sunglass clad bodyguard as he cracks jokes on the the fighting before the capture of Kismayu.
He says all he wants is for President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud led Somalia Federal government in Mogadishu to respect the will of the people of Jubaland and accord the new state government the support they have given Galmudug and Puntland states.
“Everybody was aware of the process leading to the Jubaland Conference for the Establishment of Regional State including Igad and the central government. Those declaring themselves President just came the other day and their history is well known. We should all adhere to the Somalia constitution which allows for the establishment of state as part of the federal government. The Somalia government is expected to respect the will of the people. We hope that the President will understand that and respect it. There were 135 elders from the three regions of Jubaland when the Federal Government President was elected last September. Why is it acceptable when they elect him but unacceptable when they elect me?” Sheikh Madobe posed.
He says the central government was involved in the process from the beginning and the Transitional Federal Government even sent a delegation.
Sheikh Madobe says the trust the people of Jubaland have showed by electing him President is all the reward he wishes for and pledged not to betray the trust.
He sees a day when all the refugees who fled the war-torn country over the 21-year period returning and participating in the reconstruction process.
“I see a day when KDF will leave Somalia and there will be one man one vote. I see a day when refugees will return back to Somalia and charitable organisations return to assist in provision of the much needed help,” Sheikh Madobe says.
But this might be a feat after Somalia Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon Saaid visited Kismayu but declined an invitation by the Interim administration of Jubaland State of Somalia to meet delegates at the Kismayu University.
Sheikh Madobe jokes about his escaping death on January 23, 2007 when a US drone attack killed eight of his colleagues in Dhobley area minutes after they had used a Thuraya mobile phone. The seasoned militia leader believes only Somalis can solve their problems and warns against a foreign imposed solution.
The Ras Kamboni resident attended secondary school and joined a technical institute to pursue civil engineering before establishing a property development and real estate business in Mogadishu and later Dhobley.
He joined al Itihad as a leader before becoming the Ras Kamboni group area leader. He also started a fishing business selling prawns and lobsters in Kenya and the United Arab Emirates.
He claims to have helped ICU take over Juba, Gedo and Kismayu and effectively became its Ras Kamboni leader and also worked with Hassan Abdullah al Turki who was in June 2004 designated under the US Presidential Executive Order 13224 for financing terrorism.
After the ICU were removed from Mogadishu and later Kismayu by the Ethiopian forces, Madobe and eight other Islamic Courts Union leaders, because they did not have enough fighters, escaped towards Kolbio and later Dhobley.
He was arrested and taken to Ethiopia where he stayed for three years, came back to join al Shabaab but fell out with the Islamic extremist group because of differences in ideology and their way of administration.
When this journalist asked him in June last year if he expects to be pronounced the leader of Juba and Gedo regions after routing al Shabaab, Madobe said residents should decide whom they want to be their leader.
At the Kismayu University about 36km away, delegates continue to celebrate the formation of the Jubaland state and Sheikh Madobe`s election with drums and pulsating music, a combination of Cushite and Bantu rhythms.
Amisom troops have erected a security buffer zone around Kismayu University which is about 500 metres away from the point along the beach where KDF amphibious Special Forces unit landed when Amisom forces liberated Kismayu. Every delegate is studiously frisked by military personnel before being allowed into the compound where different teams in their cultural outfits prepare to perform before elders.
The conference was funded by the Jubaland Chamber of Commerce and Industry to the tune of $3.5 million.
It is a new dawn, according to father of four Mohammed Noor Shambana, a Somali Bantu who travelled from Washington DC, USA, to come and contest the presidency of Jubaland. For a man who spent 14 years as a refugee in Kenya, Shambana is very optimistic but quickly says the lack of recognition from the Central government could be a problem for the state.
The 39-year-old, who has been traveling to Somalia from the US where he has stayed for 10 years and represents the Somali Bantus, hopes for a better peaceful country.
© 2013 AllAfrica, All Rights Reserved
The way out of a crisis in Jubaland
June 12, 2013
Events in the southern Somali port city of Kismayu are on a fast-moving escalator as violence intensifies and armed factions mobilise and adopt offensive postures.
Two days of deadly violence between the Ras Kamboni Brigade (RKB) and militiamen loyal to Iftin Basto, one of the many claimants to the contested Jubaland presidency, has left scores dead and dozens wounded, mainly civilians.
The KDF/AMISOM troops in Kismayu are now faced with the unwelcome prospect, not to say additional strain, of policing their allies, over and above the routine military task of keeping up the pressure on Al-Shabaab and ensuring the militant group does not stage a come-back.
The violence was predictable and is a result of four weeks of political stalemate and mediation stasis which has given elements wedded to a violent solution the signal to act.
Equally, the reckless posturing, brinkmanship and bellicose rhetoric on all sides has simply served to dangerously inflame passions and polarise opinion.
There is a real danger the situation in Kismayu could spiral out of control and the violence spread to the rest of the Juba Valley, unless urgent steps are taken to disengage the combatants and initiate a credible mediation to seek a peaceful political solution.
Puntland`s President Abdirahman Farole has been in Nairobi for over seven days in an attempt to mediate, but he is seen as being too partisan by many in the political establishment in Mogadishu, and consequently he is unlikely to become acceptable as a serious mediator.
Even more disconcerting, there is credible evidence that Al-Shabaab is discreetly and cleverly exploiting inter-clan tensions in Gedo and Juba to foment further instability in Kismayu and elsewhere in the region.
It is easy to be pessimistic, but a compromise solution is achievable, if only all the sides are willing to change tack.
And below are a few practical steps and recommendations that could positively impact on the situation and which all the parties must consider seriously:
* All sides must immediately stop mutually hostile propaganda which simply fuels the crisis and inhibits progress on the search for a solution;
* AMISOM must take urgent steps on the ground to disengage the warring sides, prevent the hostilities from escalating further and protect civilians;
* IGAD, the African Union, the United Nations, and other key partners of Somalia need to urgently identify and put together a credible mediation team;
* The Somali Government has maintained a consistent message on Jubaland framed around constitutionalism and sovereignty. However, that message has not gone down well in Juba and it must now be recast so as to allow for a pragmatic political solution;
* An urgent task force must be set up to discuss the disharmony of views regarding which federal model is best-suited for Somalia – i.e. top-down federalisation or bottom-up federalism – and its recommendations put before the proposed national conference in Mogadishu.
Mr Abdi descibes himself as an independent Horn of Africa analyst
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