Former rebel fighter Madobe wins controversial Jubbaland poll

Friday, August 23rd, 2019 00:00 |
Ahmed Mohamed Islam, known by his nickname Madobe. Photo/AFP

Kismayo, Thursday

A former rebel fighter in Somalia has been re-elected to lead Jubbaland, one of the country’s richest regions with the lucrative port of Kismayo as its capital.

Ahmed Mohamed Islam, known by his nickname “Madobe”, won the controversial election, gaining 56 votes out of a total of 74 cast by local MPs. Andab Mohamed Dahir, who was the only female aspirant, came second with 17 votes.

Security has been tight in Kismayo and the city has been in lockdown since Tuesday.

The UN and the central government had wanted the vote to be postponed, but the regional authorities refused.

Madobe was immediately sworn in after he was announced the winner by the parliamentary speaker.

Some opposition politicians had complained that the local electoral commission was not independent and have held a parallel election.

According to the privately owned Jowhar news website, the rival group has elected Abdirashid Mohamed Hidig as Jubbaland’s president.

On Wednesday, UN Special Representative to Somalia, James Swan, warned that without a single, agreed-upon electoral process, a contested outcome might plunge the southern region into instability.

Madobe is a former Islamist—he was a member of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) that ruled Somalia in 2006.

Afterwards he was a commander in the Ras Kamboni militia that seized Kismayo in 2012 from the control of Islamist al-Shabab militants­—with the backing of the Kenyan army. He was one of the politicians to set up an administration in Jubbaland six years ago. His election means he will serve for another four years.

Last Saturday the Somali government said it would not recognise the result of the election in Jubbaland, saying the candidate selection process violated the national constitution. Analysts held that the stand-off risks sparking a dangerous wider conflict.

Back opposition

Mogadishu is on the other hand accused by Jubbaland of trying to oust Madobe by backing the opposition, in what observers say is a bid to get a loyalist into power in the strategic region, and increase the control of the federal government.

The United Nations mission in Somalia on Wednesday called for a “single electoral process that is credible, inclusive, fair and peaceful.”

“We are concerned that in the absence of such agreement, the likelihood of instability and division within Jubbaland is significantly increased.”

Observers say that for Kenya, having an ally in Jubbaland is also key amid a spat with Mogadishu over maritime borders, with possibly lucrative Indian Ocean oil and gas reserves at stake.

Ethiopia also has troops there, and played a key role in the formation of the state, however, new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has renewed ties with Mogadishu, and is now backing their stance. -Agencies

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