Somalia: UN chief condemns deployment of SNA troops in Gedo, lauds stability in Galmadug
MOGADISHU, Somalia - The strained relationship between the Federal government of Somalia and regional member states dominates in the speech of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, although he also notes some significant progress in restoring peace in the Horn of Africa nation.
In the advanced copy of Guitteres' speech obtained by Garowe Online, which will be delivered in the United Nations Security Council [UNSC], the UN chief raises concerns about the recent deployment of the Somali National Army [SNA] in Gedo, the tension-prone region in Jubaland state.
SNA's presence in the region, Guitteres says, "resulted in clashes, with wider regional implications". The troops were deployed in February and have since clashed twice with regional Jubaland troops loyal to President Ahmed Madobe.
Balad-Hawo, the border town in Gedo was turned into the temporary battleground between the two sides, leading to the displacement of thousands of people, following the fight which even spilled over to Mandera, in neighboring Kenya.
"I am deeply concerned about armed clashes in Jubbaland’s Gedo region between federal and state forces which resulted in casualties and the displacement of civilian populations," the UN chief says in his remarks.
To de-escalate the crisis, which is primarily engineered by the political quagmire between President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and Madobe, Kenya and Somalia have expressed interest in ending the stalemate, which almost escalated into full-blown military chaos.
For instance, while Kenya supports the leadership of Madobe, the Ethiopian troops in Somalia work closely with Farmajo, thus the fear that the crisis could have put both KDF and ENDF at loggerheads, despite the fact that they all serve in AU Mission in Somalia.
In a statement two months ago, the US called for "ceasefire" while terming the deployment of SNA troops to Gedo as "very unnecessary". Their presence, the US said, increases interval rivalry a move which could pave room for Al-Shabaab resurgence.
And Guitteres now urges both parties to "exercise" restrain and avoid actions that could "spark" further violence in the region, which has remained at the epicenter of Farmajo and Madobe's unending squabbles.
"It is essential that cooperation and dialogue are restored between the Federal Government and the Jubbaland authorities," he adds, without giving specifics on how the reconciliation efforts could be kick-started.
On internal administration of Jubaland, Guitteres however, welcomes the recent political truce between Madobe and three of his competitors, who reconciled after months of negotiations in Nairobi. The decision, he adds, "proves political maturity in Somalia".
Madobe, the agreement noted, will officially quit regional politics once his second term expires. This, analysts argued, would throw Farmajo's endless onslaught in Gedo, even though he's yet to recognize Madobe's victory.
Guterres also condemned the clashes with were witnessed in Galmadug state in February, which saw SNA troops run riot against ASWJ militia, which had disputed local polls that saw Ahmed Kariye 'Qoor Qoor' declared president.
Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama'a [ASWJ] is a moderate Sufi group. During the battle, over 20 people reportedly died in Dhusamareb, the regional administrative capital of the state, after which the group surrendered to the state.
While insisting that "political differences must not be addressed through violence", the UN chief, however, notes the recent political development in that state, which saw former President Ahmed Duale handing over smoothly to Qoor Qoor.
"I am encouraged by the peaceful state presidential transition on 12 April. Longer-term stability requires that all stakeholders work together to establish an inclusive administration," his speech reads in part.
Guterres further calls upon the federal government to devise ways of working closely with the federal states, some of which have raised concerns about the authoritarianism being perpetuated by Mogadishu without proper adherence to the rule of law.
"I urge the Federal Government to extend transition operations to other areas and accelerate its force generation and security sector reforms, together with the federal member states, with the support and coordination of AMISOM and international partners," he adds.
The UN is one of the key stakeholders in the quest for peace in Somalia, a country which has battled against inter-clan conflicts and Al-Shabaab menace for over three decades, with the latter scuttling efforts to restore peace and stability in recent years.