Jubaland election has bearing on our security
Ethnically homogeneousMussolini found an ally in Britain when Labour Party leader James Ramsay Macdonald became prime minister. From January 1924 to November 1924, besides recognising socialistic Soviet Union, MacDonald agreed to transfer Jubaland to Italy to appease and please fellow socialist Mussolini. The southern-most point of the transferred territory was ‘Dick’s Head’ or Ras Kiambone. Jubaland, therefore, was ill-fitting in Italian Somaliland. It still is ill-fitting in fragmented Somalia, evincing autonomy and stability not found in other Somali states. The fragmentation was largely because it was based on mythical Somali commonality and unity. Guided by irredentist dreams represented by Siad Barre’s adventures, it pretended that Somalia was ethnically homogeneous. This led to the Ogaden War and the subsequent end of the Barre imperialism. Once the ‘glue’ melted, the differences of identity exploded into little states and exposure of hidden ethnic diversity. As opportunistic terror groups such as the Al Shabaab and assorted warlords took control of Somalia, individual states started asserting their autonomy from Mogadishu, unable to depend on it for their own safety.
Presidential electionWhile some Mogadishu officials appeared to dilly-dally with terror groups, there were those who wanted to contain them and get their states moving. Jubaland, with its diverse ethnic and colonial identity, was one of them. It welcomed Kenya’s help in containing the Al Shabaab terror group. The main man in that effort was Sheikh Ahmed Islam Madobe, or “Blackie”, leader of the Ras Kamboni Brigade who, with Kenya’s help drove the Al Shabaab out of Jubaland in 2012. This helped him to win the presidential election in May 2013 and is up for re-election in August 2019. His chances of re-election are high. He vows to end youth radicalisation and to finish the Al Shabaab in Jubaland. He has the support of clan elders in Garissa, Kenya, but not that of President Mohammed Abdullahi Mohammed alias Farmajo, an American citizen, in Mogadishu. Farmajo is not the only foreigner running the Somalia Federal Government for euro interests. Besides having problems being independent, Farmajo has the endorsement of some Arab countries who also want Blackie out. The Arab League, apart from pouring money into the campaign to have Blackie lose, has also warned Kenya not to question Somalia irredentism into Kenyan waters. Other than neighbourliness and cultural attachment, Kenya has direct interest in the smooth running of the presidential election in Jubaland. These include national and regional security that can be enhanced by a candidate of proven commitment to defeating the Al Shabaab terror group. Given that instability generates refugees who end up burdening Kenya, it would be foolhardy to ignore the fact that some candidates who oppose Madobe, with external endorsements, have close ties to bad people. Since these would intensify insecurity in the region, ensuring credible and peaceful election is in Kenya’s interest. Prof Munene teaches History and International Relations at USIU
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