Somalia: Madobe leaves for Galmudug in company of dozens of Jubaland forces
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Jubaland President Ahmed Islam Mohamed Madobe left Kismayo on Thursday morning for the much-anticipated meeting that brings together all regional leaders but had to be accompanied by dozens of Jubaland Special Forces, who are in charge of his security.
Madobe has been at loggerheads with Federal President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, and their differences have often degenerated into ugly fist fights, including the recent clash between the Somali National Army [SNA] and Jubaland forces in Gedo region.
And on Thursday, Madobe's maiden trip to Dhusamareb, the regional administrative capital of Galmadug state, could raise political eyebrows after he opted to tag several security forces with him, an indication that he's still not "confident" with the federal government.
Jubaland state TV released images of heavily armed troops who had arrived at Kismayo ahead of the trip, saying that the forces would "secure" the president and ensure his "safety" ahead of his maiden trip to Dhusamareb for the regional meeting
"Jubbaland special forces in charge of securing president Ahmed Mohamed Islam's safety have just left Kismayo for Dhusamareeb ahead of the president's expected visit to the Galmudug capital later today for the much anticipated FMS presidents' summit set to launch later today," read the statement.
The troops were dispatched before the president's trip, and are expected to mobilize their colleagues in Galmadug to ensure that security is heightened ahead of Madobe's arrival. By counting, over 30 JSF officers were part of his entourage, probably the highest number in an official function graced by Madobe.
On Wednesday, the federal government of Somalia withdrew dozens of Haram'ad security forces from Dhusamareb, after claims that a section of regional leaders had demanded their removal from the town, arguing that they are "unwelcome" at taking in charge of the meeting security.
While no leader came openly to call for their removal, multiple sources intimated that the exit of the troops had nothing to do with the anticipated meeting, with some saying the federal government had planned for their withdrawal long before the regional meeting was scheduled in the town.
The Haram'ad officers, who are trained by the Turkish government, were deployed in the town during the controversial Galmadug polls in February that saw Villa Somalia's preferred candidate Ahmed Kariye alias Qoor Qoor declared president, in a race which at least four main contenders boycotted.
And months later, the officers along with the SNA forces clashed with ASWJ militia, who had been controlling the town, leading to unprecedented death of 20 people. The regional leadership in Galmadug has since solved internal political squabbles that had eclipsed succession.
Madobe's decision to take over 30 security officers may have been informed by his tough stance on the federal government. Early this year, reports emerged from Ethiopia in which a top Tigray People's Liberation Front [TPLF] official claimed that there were plans to abduct the Jubaland leader last year.
In the plan, the official claimed, Ethiopia and Eritrea had dispatched commandos to Kismayo who were expected to mobilize for the abduction. However, the plan aborted when the plane carrying the military officers was blocked from landing in Kismayo.
By Wednesday, a number of regional leaders had started arriving in Dhusamareb for the meeting. HirShabelle President Mohamed Abdi Waare arrived and was received by Ahmed Kariye, who is the host.
The leaders are expected to discuss among other things, the current electoral crisis in Somalia, the sharing of national resources, and how to combat Al-Shabaab militants. The federal government will not attend the meeting despite pressure from the international community.