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Somalia: Senators accuse NISA and transport ministry of kicking them out of Kismayo-bound plane

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

MOGADISHU, Somalia - Two Somali senators were on Sunday forced to disembark from a Kismayo-bound plane under unclear circumstances, they told the media, in a dramatic version of events that showcases unending squabbles between FGS and federal states.

Senators Abdullahi Sheikh Ismail alias Fartaag and Iftin Hassan Iman alias Baasato were literally kicked out of the plane along with other passengers, only for the officials to allow the flight to proceed to the southern port city of Kismayo without them aboard.

At the time of the unprecedented incident, the two were travelling to Kismayo for the funeral of former Jubaland education minister Moalim Mohamed, who passed on in India. The minister's body had been flown to Somalia for burial, reports indicate.

In their press conference, however, the two legislators accused spy agency NISA and officials from the Ministry of Transport of orchestrating their ordeal, terming the actions "unnecessary and illegal". The government, they noted, "has lost focus by dwelling on non-issues".

"We were blocked by NISA and transport ministry officials. They ordered all the passengers out before allowing them to proceed without us," said Abdullahi, adding that, "this government should concentrate on serious issues that are affecting our nation".

Under the current federal setup, the two were elected from Jubaland to represent the region at the national level. Their predicaments are however not synonymous given the strained relationship between their regional leadership and federal President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo.

Jubaland, they said, will continue to relate with "committed" individuals who do not "look down upon us" when it comes to resource mobilisation within the country, and that "will not be intimidated to rubber stamp unconstitutional agenda".

The federal government, Hassan noted, should consider withdrawal of its troops from fragile Gedo region if at all it wants "genuine" discussions with President Ahmed Madobe and the entire leadership of Jubaland.

"We have our right to defend our regional territorial integrity. You can invade it then deserve to be given an ear. We're not an enemy, let them withdraw troops from Gedo and respect our leadership. No amount of intimidations will make us back down," he added.

The Fahad Yasin-led has been linked to such actions before, given that former Presidents Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Hassan Sheikh Mohamud were twice blocked from travelling across the country, sparking endless political gerrymandering and intrigues which have threatened to crumble national integration.

At first, the two leaders and their delegation were blocked from flying to Kismayo for the inauguration of Ahmed Madobe as Jubaland president in September 2019. Two months later, they were temporarily blocked from delivering humanitarian aid to Beledweyne following deadly flash floods.

But in a landmark ruling by a Mogadishu court this year, the Ministry of Transport was convicted of "infringing" rights of the litigants and barred from "such future unlawful engagements". The government, the court added, "must at all times respect rights of all citizens".

And during their press conference, the two senators also said they will lodge a lawsuit against spy chief Fahad Yasin and the transport ministry for "blocking us from travelling to Kismayo and violating our freedom of movement".

Until now, the federal government, which is not a stranger to such controversies, has not issued a rebuttal to the latest claims. The FGS usually counters such allegations through the ministry of information and culture.

The incident also comes barely a fortnight after Madobe signed a peace deal with three of his competitors, ending an eight-month political impasse in Jubaland, effectively blocking possible "interference" from the federal regime, which has traditionally sabotaged his administration.

The post-election feud in Jubaland, observers believe, had given Farmajo an "excuse" to inflict further misery to Madobe. For months, the FGS had used Gedo as the battlefield to settle political scores, but the internal peace agreement effectively sealed much-needed peace in Jubaland.

Fahad Yasin, a former Al-Jazeera journalist, is also facing accusations from KDF, one of the key stakeholders in Somalia quest for peace, of funding Al-Shabaab activities within Somalia, an allegation which could further strain the relationship between FGS and Kenya.

Madobe is set to constitute a government of unity in the coming months after an eight-month delay. To further steer honest stability, he will not defend his third term in office, the deal which was signed in Nairobi stated.