MOGADISHU, Somalia Mar 29, 2013 (Garowe Online)-A delegation led by Somalia’s Prime Minister Abdi Farah
Shirdon returned on Friday to Mogadishu, after spending four days in the
southern port of Kismayo, Garowe Online reports.
Speaking to reporters in Mogadishu, Prime Minister Shirdon
said the people and administration of Kismayo welcomed him and the federal
government’s delegation with open arms.
“I confirm that we are very happy with our welcome in
Kismayo. The people of Kismayo have suffered years of conflict and are eager
for peace, governance and development,” said Prime Minister Shirdon.
The Prime Minister said that, while in Kismayo, he met with
the local administration and community leaders “to deliver the government’s
“Kismayo has an administration that was established quickly
after the removal of Al Shabaab terrorist group and we have met with the local
administration leaders. We are content with the current administration, but
there is a need to review the current political arrangement [in Kismayo] as
soon as possible,” said the Prime Minister.
Continuing, Shirdon indicated that the Jubaland convention
“was organized by local communities” and he praised their efforts.
But Prime Minister Shirdon expressed reservations about the
process of the Jubaland convention, which aims to establish a state
administration for three regions centered around Kismayo: “The process of how
the convention was prepared does not conform to how we [federal government]
expect state administrations in Somalia to be established.
Elaborating his position, the Prime Minister added: “When
forming state administrations, the leadership of that process belongs to the
federal government to confirm that all communities are represented, but the
decision ultimately belongs to local communities.”
Continuing, Shirdon said: “This Jubaland convention [in
Kismayo] is missing key aspects, such as laws, federal government’s role and
accountability. Since the convention’s beginning did not conform to the Somali
Federal Constitution, the outcome will not be a recognized state
The Prime Minister said that he proposed to Kismayo leaders
that the Jubaland convention is “brought under the federal government’s
management” to conform to the federal constitution for the the state formation
Prime Minister Shirdon praised African Union peacekeepers
(AMISOM) serving in Kismayo, while noting that Somali government forces in the
Jubaland regions are “in bad shape”.
“We visited a military base for Somali government forces.
They are in bad shape. There is nonpayment of salaries and they work in
difficult conditions. We plan to better organize government forces in Kismayo
and to ensure that they receive their needs,” said the Prime Minister.
Shirdon said he plans to continue visiting regions of
Somalia to assess political, security, and socio-economic conditions in regions
outside of Mogadishu.
Prime Minister Shirdon’s visit to Kismayo marked a historic
moment for the country’s new federal government.
Since coming to power in September 2012, Somali President
Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has openly opposed the Jubaland state formation process,
which began in 2011.
President Hassan has demanded that the Jubaland convention,
organized by local communities, to be stopped and the president wants to
nominate a governor for Lower Jubba region.
In Baidoa, Merka and Beledweyne, President Hassan has
appointed regional governors, but some political actors in those regions have
publicly criticized the president’s decision as contrary to the Somali federal
constitution, which permits the voluntary merger of two or more of Somalia’s 18
Kismayo leaders have rejected President Hassan’s demands,
arguing that local communities support the formation of Jubaland convention,
with over 400 delegates from Lower Jubba, Middle Jubba and Gedo regions,
presently in Kismayo to partake in the state formation process.