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Somalia: Madobe's meeting with ONLF leaders in Nairobi raises tension in Ethiopia

By Abuga Makori in Nairobi , Garowe Online

NAIROBI, Kenya - Authorities in Addis Ababa are 'concerned' with Jubaland leader Ahmed Madobe's meeting with Ogaden officials in Nairobi, it has now emerged.

In a report published by Addis Ababa Standard, Jubaland leader is said to be holed up in a meeting with Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), whose details remain scanty.

The officials from Ogaden commonly referred to as the Somali region in Ethiopia, and have 'warmly welcomed' by Kenyan officials on Sunday.

Abdirahman Mahdi, the ONLF chairman, is leading the delegation, whose presence in Nairobi could affect the current political crisis in Jubaland.

Since his victory in Jubaland polls in August, Ahmed Madobe has been in persistent wrangles with the Federal Government of Somalia and Ethiopian authorities.

In a past interview, Mahdi had backed the Jubaland leader, who was born in the Ogaden region before seizing powers in Kismayo after an onslaught against Al-Shabaab in 2013 with the aid of KDF.

“Kismayo is a very strategic position. And if things change there, it will affect the security of this country. And I believe Ahmed Madobe has so far done a good job," he said in a past interview.

"For now, we are not sure that if others come the security issue will be maintained," added Mahdi, insisting that instability in Kismayo will affect Ethiopia.

Jubaland has already written to the United Nations and AU accusing Ethiopian non-AMISOM troops of 'illegal incursion' in the Gedo region.

The troops, Jubaland said in a letter, had abducted local officials including three District Commissioners, forcing them to 'surrender jurisdictional authority' to FGS.

Last week, the Ethiopian troops allegedly blocked Jubaland Vice President Mohamud Sayid Adan, who is currently stuck in Mandera town, North West of the capital Nairobi.

So strained has been Madobe's relationship with President Mohamed Farmajo, that both Kenya and Ethiopia have been dragged into the standoff, a move which could affect AMISOM operations.

Instructively, Mustafe Mohamud Omar, the current president of Somali region, supports Farmajo and Abiy Ahmed policies on Jubaland. ONLF is the main opposition in the Somali region, a move that could yet again put the two factions at loggerheads.

In August, an Ethiopian plane was blocked from landing in Kismayo. Ethiopia and FGS - Federal Government of Somalia accused Kenya of 'imposing' Madobe on the people of Jubaland.

However, in a letter last week, Madobe insisted that 'the plane was carrying Ethiopian commandos keen to overthrow me and my administration'.

Already, Jubaland has called for an immediate withdrawal of Ethiopian Non-AMISOM troops, arguing that 'they are a source to insecurity and instability'.

Kenyan authorities are yet to issue a statement with regard to the presence of Madobe, ONLF leaders or struggles of Jubaland VP who is holed up in Mandera.

ONLF was recently recognized by the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia as a national party and was issued with a certificate of registration. While in Nairobi, its officials are also planning to raise funds.

Ethiopian PM Ahmed Abiy has been under pressure to withdraw troops from Jubaland but he's yet to formally respond to an alleged violation of 'territorial integrity'.

Their presence could cause a rift with Kenya, a close ally of Madobe. Already, it's understood that KDF troops moved to El Wak town in Jubaland, which is currently under FGS and Ethiopian troops.


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