The agreement between Jubbaland regional administration leaders and the Somali federal governmentlast week in Addis Ababa averted a political crisis in Somalia, but aspects of the compromise leave many challenges ahead.
The two parties agreed August 28th to form the Interim Jubba Administration (IJA) comprising Gedo, Lower Jubba and Middle Jubba regions. The agreement also confirmed Ahmed Mohamed Islam Madobe as head of the IJA for a two-year transitional period.
The federal government will assume control of the Kismayo airport and seaport for six months, after which the government will appoint a management team in consultation with the interim administration.
Further details of the accord are to be finalised at a reconciliation meeting in Mogadishu, officials said, although no firm date has yet been set.
Among the differing opinions are some who welcome the agreement and see it as an opportunity to end conflict in the Jubba regions while at the same time creating the necessary space to implement the disputed federal system. Those who oppose the agreement say it was not inclusive.
The differing opinions were visible in two demonstrations held recently.
Hundreds of Baidoa residents took to the streets August 31st in a protest organised by clan elders and the Bay regional administration who said they were cutting off ties with the Somali government over the agreement. In Mogadishu, the Benadir regional administration organised a demonstration September 1st in support of the agreement.
Mohamed Ibrahim Abdi, a Somali political analyst at the Institute of Arab Research and Studies in Cairo, said the Jubbaland agreement was a big victory for the Somali government and the people of the Jubba regions because it would reduce tribal tensions and prevent further conflict.
"Finding a solution for all these matters is a big opportunity for the administration to advance governance," he told Sabahi by phone. On the other hand, he said, failing to find a solution to the political deadlock in the region could lead to the government's downfall.
"Jubbaland has become a political storm that has engulfed the entire country," Abdi said, adding that the agreement will give the federal government time to focus on resolving outstanding issues with Puntland and Somaliland.
Last month, the Puntland administration suspended ties with the Somali federal government accusing it of failing to uphold constitutional principles, citing the Jubbaland crisis as an example.
The Somali government has also been engaged in ongoing talks with the Somaliland regional administration to discuss the state of their union.
But the Jubbaland agreement could help end the differences between the Puntland administration and the federal government, according to Puntland Non-State Actors Association Chairman Nur Mohamed Nur.
An agreed upon solution to the Jubbaland issue could become a blueprint for the federal government to negotiate with other administrations, he said.
"This agreement will become an open channel for communication," Nur told Sabahi, adding that for the agreement to bear fruit, civil society organisations in the Jubba regions should play an active role in the reconciliation process "by bringing the clans closer together through their engagement of traditional elders, clerics and all the different sectors of the public".
Additional talks necessary
Mogadishu-based Heritage Institute for Policy Studies said the agreement was an important step towards ending the political stalemate, but encouraged the two parties "to draft an implementation roadmap with clear timelines to ensure progress is sustained and an independent body tasked with monitoring how both parties honour and implement the agreement".
Lawmaker Dahir Amin Jesow, who hails from Kismayo, said the government has reached an agreement with only one of the sides that were at odds over the control of Kismayo.
"The Kismayo conflict was not between the federal government and Ahmed Madobe," Jesow said. "It was between six men who each claimed to be the president of the three regions. Therefore the agreement was an infringement upon the other five who were absent from the talks."
Before coming to the table for political negotiations, parties responsible for civilian deaths in Kismayo should have been held accountable, Jesow said.
Jesow also said the agreement was not in accordance with the constitution as the IJA did not meet the requirements needed to form a federal state.
Lawmaker Abdi-barre Yusuf said Jubbaland leaders and the Somali government still have an opportunity to correct their course and comply with constitution through two upcoming reconciliation meetings.
"Everyone who hails from Jubba have to be brought together in the two meetings to come to terms while ensuring that the matters discussed in the reconciliation meetings are in accordance with the constitution," he said.