By Mohamed A. Dubet
The Somali government’s recent delegation led by former Jubba Valley Alliance Leader, Goobaale,a seasoned warlord who headed the now defunct Jubba Valley militia, which had caused immense suffering and bloodshed in Jubbaland not so long ago and in the days before Shabab control, accompanied by the AMISOM spokesman, the Djiboutian colonnel, Ali Hamud, whose country is strongly opposed to the creation of Jubbaland administration among other officials, was an insult to the peace loving people of Jubbaland.
The Somali presidency is following the misguided path of allowing outsiders to meddle in the affairs of Jubbland where they do not hail from and in which they committed crimes against the local people. If it goes on,this blatant interference of internal matters in contradiction of Somalia’s federal constitution is sure to kill the pacification effort of the country and the good will of the local population towards the new Somali government.
Crimes Against Humanity
The interim Jubbaland authority made a wise decision in refusing warlord Goobaale’s entourage access to Kismanyo city. Had they allowed them in, they would have denied justice to the hundreds of thousands of victims of warlord Goobaale’s marauding militia from Gulgudud region in central Somalia, which occupied Jubbaland in the years before the terrorist takeover. Jubbaland under warlord Goobaale, the late warlord Seerar and his ally Barre Hirale,another warlord from central Somalia, was the scene of daily killing of innocent civilians, rape of women and girls, kidnapping for ransom, looting of property and torching of buildings belonging to the local people.
The notorious Jubba Valley Alliance militia set fire to residential buildings and business premises in Dhobley, Taabto,Qooqaani,Diif, Hagar,Gadudey and Afmadow towns, to name but a few, when the local people opposed their criminal activities.In the same fashion, they expropriated land and extorted money and produce from peaceful farmers whose land they invaded in Jilib,Marerey,Kabsuma,Moganbow, Sanguni and Jamame towns all situated on the Mogadishu Kismanyo HighWay. Many people perished in the process and many more fled their homes and are refugees in neighboring Kenya.This is the man the Federal Somali goverment sent to Kismanyo to represent it at the Jubbaland Conference aimed at creating an all inclusive regional administration that caters for the interests of all the residents of the province under the new Federal Constitution dispensation.
Why send Goobaale of all people at this crucial period when the injuries and scars his militia inflicted have not yet healed? Why not send more appealing Somali officials of high calibre and dignity including those from Goobaale’s own clan whose past is not tarnished by criminal record? Surely, there are hundreds of more qualified citizens of our country from across the political spectrum who could have represented the Federal Goverment at the Kismanyo Meeting. This action has only one name. It is a desire to abort the peace initiative taking hold in the region, prevent the residents from rebuilding their homes and perpetuate the suffering of the innocent masses of Jubbaland who are so eager to quench their thirst for peace and stabilty in their home province in particular and their country in general.This decision by the Somali government was an affront to the decent people of Lower and Middle Jubba areas and as such the regime in Mogadishu owes an apology to the local population if it needs to win back their trust.
One of the legacies of the militia occupying Jubbaland is the planting of illicit drugs and running drug exporting ventures. It is an open secret that the Jubba valley Alliance militia of warlord Goobaale and his predecessor warlord Osman Ali Atto dealt in the growing of cannabis and other drugs to finance their armed adventures. They did so on land they confiscated from the local riverine people who mainly rely on it to produce their own food. This caused widespread suffering among the affected rural communities who had no any other sources of livelihood. The result was widespread movement of hungry people from Jubbaland to refugee camps across the border in Kenya in which they are exposed to the elements and live on a poor unhealthy diet.
Jubbaland has seen the worst ever form of land expansion and misuse in Somalia by militias of Goobaale which visited unprecedented destruction and chaos on the local way of life and social cohesion. They divided people on clan background and created mythical ethnic boundaries which were allien to the residents before their arrival from south central Somalia.They established ethnic fiefdoms for those who shared in the pillage of minority property, inviting and rewarding more warlords to consolidate their hegemony. In a nutshell,they plunged the region into a deep gorge from which it is yet to come out.
The victims of this illegal use of Somali land still languish in man-made poverty and mayhem in which thousands lost their lives. It is a bleeding wound still fresh on the minds of the Jubbaland people. The only way to compensate for it is delivering justice to the victims. It starts with allowing them to steer the destiny of their battered and abused homeland in accordance with Somalia’s constitution, letting them elect their own local representatives in a regional assembly whose seat should be Kismanyo city, the capital, and enforcing the rule of law strictly and consistently so that there is never a repeat of what the region’s residents went through over the last two decades.
New Economic Reality
Conversely,thwarting the ambition of Jubbaland civilians to affect change in their home province will only make matters worse for Somalia as a whole. It directly goes against the new economic reality that a unitary government that concentrates resources in Mogadishu cannot effectively govern Somalia again-not since the debacle of the military regime of President Siad Barre, which made Mogadishu a heaven on earth and neglected the rest of the country, much to the chagrin of the Somali people, the spark that ignited the Somali conflagration in the first place.We categorically say no to that even if it puts the unity of Somalia in jeopardy, for there is no greater potential for fragmentation of the nation than the absence of equity and fairness in the sharing of the national cake.
Federalism in Somalia is an idea whose time has come. It is in line with the new world governance trend of devolving power and resources to the grass roots communities so that an equitable distribution of the national wealth is achieved. Anyone who tries to impede its progress in Somalia is bound for failure since local communities are more aware of their rights and determined to find local solutions to their social woes. People are fed up with outsiders trying to impose themselves on the managment of their home regions dynamics.They do not care if you build world class roads and hospitals in Mogadishu or renovate airports and schools elsewhere as long as they are not in their home towns and villages. It is a matter of bread and butter and not one big man show nationalist idealogy.
The Djibouti Factor
To be fair to the AMISOM spokesman, Col. Ali Hamud, his country’s president is an outspoken critic of forces of anarchy and lawlessness in Somalia. Djibouti, a tiny impoverished country in the horn of Africa, is a nation whose people and government want an end to the suffering of the innocent Somali population with whom they share common ancestry. It sent several army contingents to Somalia as part of AMISOM and even is in full control of peace enforcing in Hiiraan Province.The colonnel,himself, has performed his military peace-enforcing job quite well by being the mouth that communicates official statements to the Mogadishu people on account of his Somali ethnicity and fluency of the Somali language.
However, his government is speaking out of both sides of the same mouth.On the one hand, the Djibouti government is clearly determined to contribute to the restoration of peace and stabilty in Somalia.On the other hand, it opposes the implentation of Somalia’s new federal constitution by sabotaging the creation of Jubbaland regional government on the whims of centralist politicians from Mogadishu such as the former President Sheikh Sharif sheikh Ahmed and the current Somali president,Hassan sheikh Mohamud. The Djibouti religious affairs minister,Hamoud Abdi Suldan, even went as far as chiding the Inter-Govermental Authority on Development (IGAD) support for the local based peace plan for Jubbaland. This tendency by the Djibouti government to favor certain political groups in Somalia in violation of Somalia’s constitution and AMISOM protocol renders it unfit for impartial conflict resolution partner status.
Therefore, the Djibouti government cannot constructively contribute to the Jubbaland stabalization process in any manner. On the contrary, it is leaving no stone unturned in its attempt to scuttle the province’s bid to propel itself to a more realistic governance style in which the local people have more say in enforcing the rule of law.The Jubbaland people have no faith in President Geele’s government and they should stay clear of their region.
The Federal Somali government should be more realistic in its dealing with the provinces. They have to understand that it is not business as usual. We are in a new permanent national governance structure which needs to be consilidated with the input and support of local communities who wield more power now than before.They cannot go far without cooperation from these people.At the same time, they cannot import law and order to them. They have to listen and work with regional authorities.The mandate of the government is clear and unambiguous. It is the sole authority in the country as far as national defence, foreign affairs, federal governance etcetra are concerned. They should not transgress and take the road that took so many others before them to the journey to zero.
Mohamed A Dubet
Mr Dubet is a native of Jubbaland State of Somalia