Somalia: Jubaland condemns FGS' "illegal occupation" in Gedo amid alleged KDF onslaught
KISMAYO, Somalia - The federal government of Somalia has been subjected to criticism yet again, following the latest scathing attack over the deployment of Somali National Army [SNA] troops in the troubled Gedo region, which has been a battlefield for unending squabbles between President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and Ahmed Madobe.
In a statement issued on Thursday by authorities in Kismayo, the Mogadishu administration has been blamed for inter-clan divisions within Gedo in the northern part of Jubaland, which threatens the integration of communities within the region.
While terming SNA expeditions in Gedo as "illegal interference", Ahmed Madobe's administration also blamed the federal government for fueling insecurity in the region, adding that "this is completely unacceptable and will be resisted".
"The illegal interference of the region by FGS has resulted in political turmoil and insecurity. This is significantly causing unnecessary divisions within a community which is living in peace and must be resisted," read part of the statement by the state.
Continued meddling in internal affairs of Jubaland, Madobe's administration said, is "part of Mogadishu's retrogressive strategy to destabilize regional member states for political expediency". The move, it added, "is not a workable solution to much-needed peace in Somalia".
Since August last year, the two parties are yet to see eye to eye, but most of their outright differences have manifested in various actions that have attracted international retribution, among them deployment of SNA troops in Gedo.
The heightened political activities in the region have caused ripples within the internal administration of Madobe's government, a move manifested in the recent action by a deputy minister to appoint Gedo governor, who is loyal to Mogadishu administration.
Buoyed by recent take over of Doolow and Balad-Hawo, Abdirahman Mohamed Hussein, the deputy interior minister, appointed Osman Nur Haji Maalimu as Gedo governor contrary to the expectations of President Madobe, his boss and a fierce critic of Farmajo.
The newly appointed governor vowed to work diligently by "hunting down" officials loyal to Madobe, adding that "this is a territory of Somalia, we must respect our appointing authority in Mogadishu, we are not separatists and those with such secessionist intentions shall be dealt with".
But in the statement, Jubaland administration termed the appointments "illegal", adding that "the regional government doesn't recognize such unprocedural appointments". Gedo is inhabited by Farmajo's clan thus FGS to use it as a weapon against Madobe, an Ogaden.
A fortnight ago, a former Garbaharey District Commissioner in Gedo was arrested and flown to Mogadishu by Special Forces from Danab, moments after refusing to hand over to a new administrator who had been dispatched to the region.
Early this week, SNA troops in Gedo accused KDF of "bombing our people indiscriminately" in one of rare scathing attack against Kenyans, and vowed to take a "revenge" should the alleged bombings in Gedo continue.
The region is under the Kenya Defense Forces [KDF] troops under AMISOM with also the presence of Ethiopian National Defense Forces [ENDF]. The KDF is said to have carried operations within sections of Gedo which targeted Al-Shabaab militants contrary to SNA's claims.
But the interesting part is that the crisis in Gedo has thrown the UN in an unprecedented limbo, given that the KDF team supports the Jubaland administration while the Ethiopian counterparts have been aiding the federal government to reclaim Gedo.
Antonio Guterres, the UN chief, on Thursday told the UN Security Council that he was "deeply disturbed" with the recent clashes involving SNA troops and Jubaland forces in Gedo, adding that "this threatens to erode gains which we have made so far".
The UN chief challenged both sides to "exercise restraint" and allow "genuine" dialogue between FGS and Jubaland authorities for the sake of peace. He hailed a recently signed peace deal between Madobe and his regional critics as "indispensable" for the much-needed peace.
His statement comes barely two days after a group of four opposition factions questioned the presence of Ethiopian non-AMISOM troops in Gedo, terming the actions as "forceful occupation" in a letter copied to the UNSC, Somali parliament, and other international actors.
Surprisingly, the opposition team under former President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed also dismissed AU envoy to Somalia Francisco Madeira as "grossly incompetent" and called for "immediate replacement" to salvage the situation in the Horn of Africa nation.
Madobe was declared the winner of August 2019 polls albeit controversially but he has since buried the hatchet with his competitors. However, Farmajo is said to be hell-bent to have him ousted for a "friendly" replacement, something that has sparked the current political impasse in Gedo.