Brokered by the Kenyan government and facilitated by Puntland state President Said Abdullahi Deni, Madobe on Thursday announced having reached a “historic” agreement with rivals who had last year formed a parallel administration.
In a declaration issued in Nairobi, Mr Madobe and his protagonists, the Jubbaland Council for Change, said they recognise Madobe’s election last August, in the “interest” of the people.
They also said they would form a “quality “coalition government to administer the Somali federal state, including working together to fight Al-Shabaab.
“The two parties, while taking into consideration the tough and challenging times facing Jubbaland, fully acknowledged the urgent need to settle the political dispute and reach a political agreement through dialogue and concession,” the declaration said on Thursday.
“Leaders representing both sides have unanimously agreed to work towards strengthening unity, and social cohesion of the people of Jubbaland and resolve all matters of concern or conflict through consultation and dialogue.”
One last term
There were no specifics on which role the opponents will take in Madobe’s administration. But the former Ras Kamboni Brigade leader may have been forced to admit he was leading Jubbaland for one last term.
The statement cited the Jubbaland constitution of a two-term limit, indicating Madobe will relinquish his seat once the four years are over.
But the decision could steal a march on the Federal Government of Somalia under President Mohamed Farmaajo.
In the wake of the August 21 elections, Farmaajo had ordered the polls cancelled, prevented the initial plan to inaugurate Madobe and ordered a re-run, which never materialised.
Later, Madobe was sworn in Kismayu with Kenya sending its National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale to represent President Uhuru Kenyatta.
At the same time, Madobe’s rivals swore themselves in too, but never really started a parallel government.
Ogadeni majority clans
On Thursday, those rivals including Madobe’s former ally in the Ras Kamboni Brigade Andinassir Serr Maah, Abdirashid Mohamed Hidig and Dahir Ahmed Sheikh signed on the declaration endorsing the presidency of Madobe. All the men come from the various sub-clans of the Ogadeni, who are the majority in Jubbaland.
The move was dismissed by some leaders in Mogadishu as illegitimate. Deputy Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Mohamud Abdikadir Hilaal said Madobe was an illegal president.
“Ahmed Islam has no legitimacy to administer or in position of president of Jubbaland leave alone to claim the end of his favourite political differences by signing this meaningless agreement that could escalate to a worse situation,” he wrote on his Twitter page without clarifying whether he spoke for President Farmaajo.
Several analysts on the Horn of Africa situation, however, observed that the decision to form a coalition may checkmate Mogadishu’s bid to remove Madobe from his perch.
Rashid Abdi, a researcher on the Horn and the Gulf region said the agreement could boost Madobe’s legitimacy as his main enemies in the state were now on his side.
“Jubbaland President Madobe has achieved a major coup in making a deal with opponents. He must now work to repair cohesion, and build inclusive politics,” Abdi said on Thursday.
Abdimalik Abdullahi, another researcher on Somali politics said Madobe’s move should be praised as it closed one area of potential diversion from key issues. “It lays the foundation for a potential political reconciliation,” he said.
“Going forward, it’s time for the Jubbaland administration to capitalise on this positive development and reach out to FGS and other Jubbaland stakeholders.
Jubbaland should also seek solutions for Gedo issues,” he argued, adding President Farmaajo should ease his stance on Jubbaland.
Madobe’s move may, however, have been a scheme to protect his own political career, much as it declared that he won’t contest in Jubbaland again.
Hamza Abdirazak Sadik, a lawyer and political analyst said the deal opens a new chapter in local politics, but could also force the hand of Farmaajo into negotiating with a man he calls illegitimate.
“It ends the post-election disputes, creates harmony and opens new opportunities for the international community to bring bear on the Federal Government for dialogue,” he told The EastAfrican.
“Let Jubbaland continue building its democracy and deepen collaboration with other Somalia’s Member States. Jubbaland continues to set the example.”
Before the elections last year, Farmaajo was accused of interfering with the local politics in Jubbaland to front his man.
Villa Somalia denied the charge.
“Ogadenis are the majority of this region, that is why they are always in the seat of the president. The other clans like the Marehan and Shekal got vice presidency before,” argued Abdalla Ibrahim, who aspired for the Jubbaland seat last year, but now runs the East African Centre for Research and Strategic Studies.
“Those who signed the declaration are the most dangerous opponents to Madobe. My analysis shows there are others, who were opposed to Madobe but mostly lived in the shadows of the big guys.”