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OPINION: Farmajo’s plan to destabilise Jubbaland is a threat to the fragile security along Kenya’s border with Somalia



By: Abdullahi Warsame Ismail

Jubaland leader Ahmed Madobe has been at daggers drawn with the former Somali president, Mohamed Abdullahi alias Farmajo since 2019. Their clash started after Farmajo attempted in length to destabilise the political process in Jubbaland and compel Ahmed Madobe to, literally, to sing to his tune if he were to survive the political turmoil.

Alot of observers said at the time that the Federal government leader wanted to impose a candidate of his liking elected through a process of his absolute choice regardless of Madobe’s. The Jubbaland leader openly opposed, creating a stiff political standoff that saw Madobe reelected.

The Federal Government, through the Ministry of Interior—which is mandated to oversee the electoral process in Federal States—disputing the process and terming Madobe’s election as null and void.

Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and Ahmed Mohamed Islam alias Madobe are from the Darood clan. However, Ahmed is from the Absame branch while Farmajo is Mareehan, the second most populous clan in Jubbaland. Ahmed’s clansmen largely reside the Middle Jubba and the Lower Jubba while Farmajo’s kinsmen are populous in Gedo Region. To put it more clearer, Farmajo is from the Reer Diini of the larger Mareehan while Madobe’s vice-president, Mohamed Sayid Adan is from the Reer Ahmed. The Diini’s and the Ahmed’s have a long standing political jostle for power. Since Farmajo was at the helm of the Federal Government, Madobe’s deputy represented the interest of the Rer Ahmed’s who got key ministries in the Kismayo administration.

The Madobe-Farmajo political stalemate reached fever pitch at the height of the Kenya-Somalia maritime dispute in 2019 with then Somali leader accusing Madobe of being “a Kenyan agent.” At the eve of the Jubbaland polls, Mogadishu was accused of conspiring with the Ethiopian special forces, who were airlifted to Kismayo port with the sole intention of arresting Madobe. The plane was denied the right and the mission was aborted.

However, the Ethiopian regime denied the claim. Nevertheless, the Jubbaland elections took place and Madobe declared the victor. With all attempts to frustrate the polls from taking place exhausted, the federal government blocked the direct flight between Nairobi and Kismayo, a move that saw the locals bear the brunt of the stringent measures.

The local humanitarian organisations expressed horror at the move as thousands were forced to dig deeper into their pocket since the aircrafts had to transit Mogadishu. At one time, Jubbaland residents protested the move, saying the hardline resolve denied thousands the much needed medical evacuation since road transport between major towns in the region are Shabab-infested.

However, a local reconciliation process saw Farmajo, through the Interior Ministry, accepting the Jubbaland polls but for only two years following pressure from the international community. The deal came about after a Kenyan-brokered deal brought together the leading Jubbaland figures opposed to Madobe’s election .


The two leaders have been fighting over the control of Gedo with Madobe accusing Farmajo of plotting to impose parallel administration in the region, which was mostly controlled by AMISOM (now ATMIS) troops from the Kenya Defense Forces [KDF] which controls large sections of Jubaland.

The crisis has triggered a diplomatic row between Kenya and Somalia, with the latter accusing the former of working behind the scenes to frustrate internal political efforts in Somalia. But Nairobi, whose troops control large sections of Jubaland, has vehemently denied the claims.

In Somalia poll process, federal state legislatures and clan-picked delegates will choose by acclamation lawmakers for the federal parliament in Mogadishu, who in turn will elect the president. In the indirect electoral system, each of the 275 Lower House MPs should be elected by 101 delegates picked by clan leaders.

After the Jubbaland election was over, Ahmed Madobe teamed up with his Puntland counterpart, Abdullahi Deni in final duel with Farmajo who they said was advancing a divisive agenda that chocked their respective economic sequence and the destabilisation of the local security arrangements.


Farmajo believes he lost his reelection bid because he was not elected by the pro-Madobe legislators from the Bardere area. As commonsense will have it, he wants to redefine the Gedo regional politics and administration to achieve a situation that will allow him have an upper hand in the next federal presidential polls.

Lately, he has been orgernising a series of events to achieve that political goal. Reports has it that he’s been influencing a locally-designed rebellion led by the mayor of Gedo and Senator Abdullahi Ismail Fartaag. The mayor and the senator have been opposing the authority of both the Federal Government and the Jubaland administration.


Since the election of President Hassan Sheikh, he made the rationalisation of the national security apparatus and the fight against Shabaab a priority. Recently, he enacted a law that govers the powerful National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA).

Hassan launched a clarion call to end Shabab menace from the country, targeting it’s financial lifeline and encouraging a locally designed offensive against the outfit led by a vigilante-like group called “Macawisley.” From several sources, the group has since lost grip of the middle regions of Somalia, and making a foray into the Jubbaland region. The group’s move comes against the backdrop of an electioneering period in the area.

Recently, a an extention of Madobe’s term was announced by the local assembly in a bid to avoid a simultaneous happenstance of a political process and the the anti-Shabab offensive. Late last month, Jubbaland received a military consignment from UAE as it redifies for the final push against the insurgent group.

At the backdrop of all that, alot of observers have expressed disappointment against a well orchestrated plan being hatched in Nairobi on ways the Jubbaland administration can be politically frustrated by causing clan based upheavals, it’s security management and deterioration of the public confidence in the Kismayo administration. It’s nolonger a secret that the plan is being sponsored and overseen by Farmajo aides led by Abdinur Mohamed.

In a meeting held at White Star Centre at Nairobi’s Kileleshwa area late last month, a group of presidential candidates and their supporters held a press conference, sparking a renewed call for an election. They also threatened that any contrary move to their appeal could slide the Jubbaland region into political and security anarchy. The remarks caused an uproar from both Jubbaland and Kenyan security apparatus. We believe such utterances border Shabba’s sentiments who use destabilisation as a bargaining chip.

In a widely shared photo across the social media platforms, Abdinur was pictured sitting with section of the orgernisors in the same hotel where the conference prior to the main event.

Although Kenya is known for an absolute freedom of expression and association, such remarks undermine it’s security interest in Jubbaland which shares a porous border at a time when the concentration of Al Shabab is relatively high in towns and settlements nearing the border. By coordinating and sponsoring such meetings for the Jubbaland opposition factions in Nairobi, the Nabad and Nolal party members are only exposing their hypocrisy since just three years ago, they were decrying of “foreign interests of meddling in the affairs of Jubbaland.”

Madobe’s extension of his term limit was passed by the local assembly and since then, there has not been any opposition from the varied political institutions, including the clan elders. By stocking the rebellion from Nairobi, doesn’t that not lay their hidden hypocrisy in bare? Ahmed has severally expressed his intent to accommodate the opposition factions for a dialogue in Kismayo but they don’t seem to show any interest. The question then begs: is destabilisation of a relatively flourishing administration an answer to their grievances, or does Nabad and Nolal party members draw any political mileage from the chaos they’re planning?

On the other hand, the government of Kenya should be wary of the activities being carried out within own border since the delicate nature of the security situation in the porous border could easily be disrupted. The projected result by the perpetrators is simply to show the International Community that the Kenyan forces have failed to contain its state enemy across the borders and deligitimize the Jubbaland administration, all in the spirit of settling a political vendetta without considering the far-reaching implications on the regional security and the resulting humanitarian crisis.

My humble call to the former President Abdullahi Farmajo as well as the aggrived section of the Nabad and Nolal party members is: allow the different factions in the Jubbaland state to iron out their differences in the best way they know how. Ahmed Madobe is not Jubbaland and vice versa. Consider the ripple effects of your actions.


The Author is a researcher, peace and security analyst in the Horn of Africa. He can be reached on


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