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Somalia PM returns to Mogadishu, rejects Jubaland convention

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 message”.

“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.

Jubaland convention

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 administration.”

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 process.”

Government forces

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.

Jubaland future

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 regions.

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.


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