Somalia: Understanding the Jubba Agreement


culusow_20111030Anyone who follows the plight of Somalia should be elated by the news of Somali groups reaching an agreement on their differences. But the Interim Jubba Administration Agreement (IJAA), signed between the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) and Jubba Delegation (JD) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on August 27, 2013, perpetuates the usual pattern of creating the false impression of incremental progress while practically weakening the foundation for establishing a credible and sustainable government in Somalia. The IJAA seems to establishing a governing structure in the regions of Lower Jubba, Middle Jubba and Gedo of Somalia but it makes fait accompli the political nightmare of clan satellites federalism in Somalia. For example Professor Michael Weinstein[1] believes that IJAA sets the stage for a ‘political trench warfare’ which could be a desired aim.

The IJAA, drafted in the Foreign Ministry of Ethiopia which is a guarantor, is not a reconciliation or political document. It is an executive document not supported by prior political and legislative act. The IJAA expands the territories outside the influence of the federal government like Puntland, Somaliland, Galmudug, Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama (ASWJ) and Al Shabab controlled Territories so that the FGS looks confined in Mogadishu and dependent on foreign forces without qualification. The consensus is that IJAA signed under external pressure would deepen the fragmentation process of Somalia.

The background of Jubbaland scheme, renamed Interim Jubba Administration (IJA) and the difference between the goals of the two signatories explain well the explicit and implicit problems associated with the IJAA. Let’s recap these two points before examining the IJAA content in detail.

Jubbaland scheme

Apart from the clan fervor element, it is a well documented fact that the Jubbaland scheme has been designed and directed by Kenya and Ethiopia for their foreign policy agenda at the expense of Somalia. Despite the Somali people agreed without ambiguity to postpone the decision on the form of federalism suitable for Somalia and on the creation of Federal Member States (FMS), Kenya and Ethiopia went ahead with their May 2012 decision to establish a Jubbaland State. Both countries claimed that they want to deal with and depend on Jubbaland State instead of Somali State. This is a deliberate sabotage of the sovereignty, unity, political independence and territorial integrity of Somalia.

The scheme started with the mobilization of Raskamboni Militia from members of Ogaden clan to support the invasion of Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) into Somalia under the military campaign against the terror group Al Shabab. Financially and diplomatically, the scheme has been supported by powerful international donors and oil corporations.

Following the capture of the seaport town of Kismaio, Kenya and Ethiopia coached former Al Shabab commander and leader of Raskamboni Militia Ahmed Mohamed Islan (Ahmed Madobe) to organize a controlled political process to form the Jubbaland State without minimum consideration to the governing leadership authority of the FGS.  The process has put into motion an acrimonious clan competition among communities in the area.

Correctly, the FGS called for the suspension of the process on constitutional and public policy grounds and alternatively offered a stabilization plan for all areas liberated from Al Shabab. Kenya and Ethiopia rebuffed the FGS plan and pushed for the proclamation of Ahmed Madobe as President of Jubbaland State instantly recognized by Kenya and Ethiopia. As gesture of humiliation, President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and his foreign minister welcomed a delegation from Puntland-cum-Jubbaland at the State House and published a photo op.

In Kismaio, Ahmed Madobe’s presidential claim triggered leadership dispute which led to armed confrontations between clan factions causing high number of deaths and injuries, destruction of properties and displacement of entire communities. Raskamboni Militia had the upper hand because of KDF direct participation in the fighting. The security situation in the area has dramatically deteriorated.

The FGS declared the outcome of Jubbaland process as “unconstitutional.” It also made a strong public protest against KDF for its actions contrary to the mandate and rules of engagement as member of the forces of the African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

In retaliation, the FGS has been subjected to a sustained media propaganda campaign and constant diplomatic ambushes and pressures by influential international actors. Nevertheless, the FGS showed reasonable resistance before the surprise Addis Ababa talks which led to the conclusion of IJAA. The Addis Ababa talks took place few days after the first meeting of the Heads of States and Governments of the Troop Contributing Countries (TCC) to AMISOM held in Kampala, Uganda.

It is not clear if the FGS conducted effective internal deliberations before it decided to abruptly change its original position which had widespread public support. In fact The Federal Government’s new strategy has worsened the political conflict rather than improving.

Difference between signatories

As outlined in the provisional constitution (PC) which has reconstituted or stitched together Somalia as a country, the FGS represents the people of Somalia with the mission of establishing a functional integrated Somali State structure at national, regional and local levels in line with the internationally endorsed “New Deal” framework for fragile States. The mission’s goals are unity, security, peace, recovery, and development through a well-defined political and legal framework.

The Jubba Delegation (JD) represents the supporters of Raskamboni Militia controlled by Kenya and Ethiopia.  The Raskamboni Militia is not a rebel movement with nationalistic agenda. Therefore, JD’s goals are to honor the interests of its foreign backers, reward Raskamboni Militia members and remain independent from others including a central authority.

The IJAA realizes JD’s goals and thwarts FGS’s goals. The internationally sponsored talks in Addis Ababa were a political suicide for the FGS. The preferable option was either to encourage and supervise a dialogue between the communities in the Jubba and Gedo regions or to engage the talks as governed and governing parties similar to the case of Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama (ASWJ) or to declare the Raskamboni Militia illegal. The negotiation with groups or militia controlled by neighbor country (s) like Raskamboni in Somalia as the M23 in Congo is ill-advised.

Interim Jubba Administration Agreement

The preamble of IJAA subjects the provisional constitution to IGAD directives so that Somalia remains captive of IGAD and all international efforts for statebuilding fall apart. IGAD ignores practically the profusely invoked principles of leadership of the federal government and respect of the provisional constitution. IJAA contravenes the constitutional sequencing, principles and powers related to the federation process.

Article one of IJAA formally recognizes the existence of Jubbaland State as an Interim Jubba Administration (IJA) without legal basis. The IJA will automatically act as an autonomous State controlling and managing independently the domestic and international resources and infrastructures claimed by Jubba and Gedo regions. The application of clause 8 of article one concerning the parliamentary approval of the rules and regulations governing IJA is impractical because it is conditioned on the completion of the constitutional review process.

Articles two and three of IJAA appeases Kenya and nullifies the clean-cut sovereign decisions on Kismaio seaport and airport under KDF control, on the integration of Raskamboni Militia into Somali National Army (SNA) and on the deployment of mixed AMISOM forces in Kismaio agreed upon by   the TCC to AMISOM.  Clause 15 of Article 2 extends indefinitely the two year term and denies the seaport and airport transfer after six months because it stipulates that “the interim arrangement shall continue until there is a final agreement on revenue sharing in the country as per the constitutional process.”

Article four which delegates the federal government to organize and convene in two weeks time a reconciliation conference in Mogadishu followed by another one in Kismaio a charade. Both conferences are consultative (not deliberative) bodies to force the implementation of IJAA. It is more likely that changes or amendments to the IJAA by the participants of Mogadishu or Kismaio conferences will not be accepted by the allied IJA leader and Ethiopia. Clause 21 of Article four is a major constitutional violation because it transfers the responsibility to develop the roadmap for the establishment of FMS, which the constitution invests in the federal parliament, to Mogadishu conference on IJA.

The Federal Government can claim as achievements the measures of accountability of the IJA leader to the federal government, the consultation of the IJA leader with the federal government on appointing his deputies and regional governors, the responsibility to assure inclusivity, and the approval of rules and regulations governing the IJA by the federal parliament. The fact remains that as long as the federal constitution is not finalized and federal laws are not issued, IJA will remain exonerated from any accountability to and consultation with the federal government.

IJAA is a bad deal for the people of Somalia because it violates the PC, delegitimizes the FGS-executive and parliament and creates clan satellite controlled by foreign powers. Clearly, the IJAA multiplies the confusions and booby-traps stuffed in the PC so that political crisis and paralysis are inescapable. It could be soon when IJA, Somaliland, Al Shabab, ASWJ, Ethiopia, Kenya, Puntland and other opposition forces aided by international expert lords share a same platform for accusing the federal government for all sorts of problems and misdeeds without factual analysis for reasons.

Therefore, it is incumbent upon the Federal Parliament to annul the IJAA so that its negative consequences are avoided for the best interest of the people of Somalia. Otherwise, Somalia will transition from a failed state to clan satellites prey to various predators.


Mr. Mohamud M Uluso