By: Gladstone Kariuki
NAIROBI—There’s a growing concern in Kismayo over remarks seen as an afront to the security and stability of the Jubbaland administration. In a span of one week, two members of the Jubbaland Council for Change—an opposition faction made up of presidential hopefuls and their key backers—made what the Kismayo administration termed as “risking the fragile security situation in the area.”
Hassan Salah, a members of the Council as well as two other aspirants made “an inflammatory statements” in varied media interviews over the last three days. Salah, without differentiating the Jubbaland forces and Al Shabab, said an armed vigilante-like group called “Macawisley” are on alert to launch attacks in a bid to unseat president Ahmed Madobe.
“It doesn’t matter to us because we believe fighting Madobe and Al-Shabab are all the same,” he said. Shabab has been labelled as a terror group while the Jubbaland administration is civilian-led Federal entity.
On the other hand, several other hopefuls reitarated the same, with some adding that they “will cease to recognise the Constitution of Jubbaland from August” if the elections are not announced.
Earlier this month, The Attorney-General of the Jubbaland State of Somalia has rebutted claims that the legislators don’t have the mandate to ammend sections of the local Constitution.
This follows remarks made by Adam Aw Hirsi, the Federal Government’s State Minister for Environment and Climate Change. Hirsi claimed that the “members of the Jubbaland Legislative Assembly don’t have the leeway to ammend the Constitution.” He was referring to the recent extension of President Ahmed Madobe’s term by the legislators.
The remarks came at the backdrop of declaration by Somalia’s government and Federal Member States that the country will introduce universal voting rights, effective from June 2024.
According to sources who spoke to Kulan Post in confidence, Jubbaland has lodged a complaint with Kenya.
“We have noted with concern that political figures are lately using Nairobi to launch verbal attacks against the Constitution and the mandate of the Jubbaland administration. It must not be lost to us that Al-Shabab is our common enemy, and the remarks by some political figures, outfits and factions could embolden the terror group’s activities,” a letter addressed to the Prof Kithure Kindiki, Cabinet Secretary for Interior and National Administration, said in part.
The letter also called on Kenya to freeze the assets of the individuals who “want to use our shared fight against Shabaab and other peace-threatning groups to destabilise Jubbaland.”
It continued: “President Ahmed Madobe is a democrat who believes in the participation of all in a peaceful, free and fair elections.”
Local media reports that the Jubbaland Council for Change is slated to hold political events in Kismayo in the early weeks of July.
Two months ago, the Jubbaland Council for Change stated in a press conference held in Nairobi that if Jubbaland elections won’t accommodate their concerns, the likelihood of hightened insecurity and surge in insurgency activities “will be inevitable.”
“The recent attacks on (Jubbaland) military posts in Lower Jubba is an indication of what can go wrong if our demands are not taken into account,” the press statement seen by Kulan Post said in part. The presser was in Somali.
It added that: “A divisive electoral process will likely create a void that could be a launching pad for insurgent groups.”
The statement caught the attention of the Somali-speaking security officers who raised an alarm.
The National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), a multi-agency institution charged with the prevention, detection, deterrence and disruption of terrorism acts said that the were notified of the presser.
“We have been notified of the press statement. We are investigating the remarks and the context. We will revert when the probe is done,” the brief statement by the NCTC said in part. If the remarks are determined as “inflammatory” then the orgernisors and the facilitators may likely be arrested by the anti-terror police unit and grilled by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) headquartered along Kiambu road.
Jubaland shares a porous border of 681 kilometres (423 miles) with Kenya. The communities in Jubaland and Northeaster corridors of Wajir, Mandera and Garissa counties share an identity. During this period of prolonged drought, movement across the border is heightened as pastoralists seek water and pasture for their livestock.