Somalia: Jubbaland president meets jailed ONLF leader in Addis Ababa

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online
Abdikarin Qalbi Dhagah, ONLF leader [L] with Jubbaland president Ahmed Madobe [R] [FILE PHOTO]
ONLF commander [L] and Jubbaland leader [R] at a hotel in Addis Ababa [File photo]

ADDIS ABAB, Ethiopia - The president of Somalia's southern Federal State, Jubbaland Ahmed Madobe has been granted permission to meet with imprisoned ONLF leader, Abdikarim Sheikh Muse, Popularly known as "Qalbi Dhagah" in Addis Ababa, Garowe Online reports.

Local media released Sunday photos showed smiling rebel commander while sitting along President Madobe at his hotel room in Addis Ababa. It's not yet clear what they discussed during their brief meeting.

Somali Federal Government has extradited Muse to Ethiopia on 28th August 2017 weeks after his capture in Galmudug state in central Somalia, about 750 kilometers [466 miles] north of the capital, Mogadishu August 23.

The decision by Somali government to hand over dissident ONLF official to Ethiopia has sparked sharp public criticisms with many terming the transfer a 'betrayal of citizen rights and violation of international law.'

The Somali cabinet had last year defended the transfer of Muse saying it was done under a deal reached in 2015 during former Federal Government led by Hassan Sheikh that designates ONLF and Al-Shabaab as "terrorist groups."

Meanwhile, Somalia's Lower House of Parliament formed a parliamentary committee for Muse's extradition case and which found the deal was not struck at a federal level and should not be used as justification for exchanging criminals or prisoners. 

Jubbaland President, a former Islamist leader who once himself imprisoned in Ethiopia during the Islamic Courts Union in 2007 was reported to have requested the Ethiopian Government to free Qalbi Dhagah from the prison.

If released, it will be a big blow to Villa Somalia which previously branded Muse, a former Somali National Army soldier turned an ONLF rebel commander as "terrorist" and transferred him to Addis Ababa under a controversial extradition agreement.

Last week, Jubbaland president Ahmed Madobe met with Abiy Ahmed Addis Ababa despite a deal between the Somali government and ex-Ethiopian PM Hailemariam Desalegn not to welcome the leaders of the Federal Member States in Somalia.

The ONLF has been fighting since 1984 for an autonomy of the Ogaden region, which borders Somalia. The rebel group was among five organizations outlawed as terrorists by the Ethiopian government in 2011.