Reflections on Jubba Agreement of Somalia

Samatalis Haille - Federal Government of Somalia, FGS, and Jubba delegation (formerly known as ‘Jubbaland’) met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia between 20th to 27th of August, 2013, under the auspices of IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) Chair of the Council of Foreign Ministers, to discuss number of issues related to administration, management of public installations, such as sea and air ports, security reform and reconciliation.
Article Keydmedia Online
Reflections on Jubba Agreement of Somalia

Here are the principles that guide the agreement in summarized form, as stated in the agreement,: a) leadership of FGS on relevant processes; b) respect for the provisional constitution, PC, of Federal Republic of Somalia, FRS; c) inclusive and consultative process for all peoples of Somalia; d) supportive role of IGAD on the basis of FGS priorities; e) the primary focus of all actors, be it local or international, or anything in between them, is to fight Shebab.

Further principles are stated as actors attempt to set up regional administrations or manage stabilization efforts; these principles are Federalism in the PC, the National Stabilization Plan and the Local Government act, LGA.

Many people think, as documented evidence shows, that the PC and the Federalism are not popular with some. They are perceived as something imposed on them by others working in cohort with some external actors [1].

This can be corrected by simply letting Somalis debate about all articles in the PC and then put it to public referendum, to become a permanent constitution.

Puntland Regional Government, PRG, also ought to recognize that the constitution is provisional and, therefore, subject to change, through legitimate process, of course, such as through the Federal Parliament of Somalia, FPS. This revision ought to continue until PC gains the capacity to pass public referendum. That is to say, the revision of PC ought to continue until PC becomes a document that can be freely endorsed by all popular forces in Somalia. It is not at this time, as cited evidence demonstrates [2].

The agreement recognizes, per PC, that FGS is the sole representative of the sovereign Republic of Somalia.

Clause one of the agreement stipulates formation of an interim administration for Gedo, Lower Jubba and Middle Jubba under new name: Interim Administration for Jubba, IAJ.

Clause three, however, implies that the current administration of ‘Jubbaland’ shall constitute the IAJ, yet it recognizes that IAJ is incomplete; as a result, it tasks IAJ and FGS to complete the administration through consultative process.

Clause one recognizes that the agreement imposes an administrative structure on three regions and thus leaves a room for the people in these regions to choose otherwise, if they so desire; so long as chosen administrative structure is a result of the constitutional process.

Thanks wikileaks, we know, Kenya has lobbied for this administrative structure and it appears it has gotten what it wanted; notwithstanding some segments of the Somali society favors this administrative arrangement. Others oppose it. A case in point is the demonstration in August 31st, 2013, held in Baidhabo, Bay region. Opponents of this arrangement lack external allies, it appears, to push.

In any case, this raises a fundamental question regarding administrative fate of various regions of FRS: who decides the structure of political dispensations in Somalia? An obvious answer is the people who live there? They shall decide which regions shall go with what regions and so on. If, however, outsiders, such as Kenya, push a particular dispensation congruent with their own strategic interests, it may make some happy and others angry.

The latter group may now work in cohort with Shebab and thus minimize the chances of defeating Shebab or forcing them to jump-start the political process.

Members of this community, Digil and Mirifle, live in areas east of the Jubba River in Gedo all the way to Baidhabo, Bay region, whereas members of Balad-Hawo communities, Marehan, live in the areas west of the Jubba River [3].

The essential argument of Baidhabo is that their communities or clans live in Gedo, Middle Jubba and Lower Jubba, but they have not been consulted about the formation of the new structure of ‘Jubbaland’ state or Jubba. Thus, they have lost confidence in the FGS. They have asked their representatives to leave FGS and come home.

They are also meeting in Baidhabo, Bay region, about this matter and other related issues, such as setting up a regional administration in much of the south.

It ought to be pointed out that the FGS has made a fundamental mistake in acquiescing to the new structure of Jubba, thereby denying some people in these regions the right to determine their own administrative structure in federated Somalia.

However, clause one of this agreement allows, as stated, to choose an alternative structure as a result of the constitutional process or to endorse the current one.

Different federal member states may emerge from this area in accordance to the wishes of the people in these regions. Regions ought to be combined or divided to suit the demands of the people who live in here.

Somalis know what people in these regions want indirectly: what the elders and others say. In few years time, however, Somalia may be able to ask everyone who lives in these regions to vote for the structure of desired federal member state or states, as well as for the people who will lead them.

In the mean time, one ought to rely on what various communities aspire through their traditional and modern self-styled leaders.

These kinds of challenges are likely to be expected as long as all parties don’t respect fully the principles that unite them: their major source of legitimacy.

Only two principles obtain in the Somali political milieu, and frankly in the whole world; one is advocated by Shebab, the supremacy of the rule of law, albeit as they conceive it, or to put it in their own terms, the implementation of God’s law, sharia, on earth. This is their source of legitimacy in the eyes of their supporters.

The other principle is the one that unites all anti-Shebab forces in Somalia: let the people consult about their fate, a variant, it is, of the right to self-determination, both on matters regarding administrative structures and of political leadership.

Elections and regime of rights and responsibilities can be seen as an extension of the latter principle. Shebab does not subscribe to this principle, FGS does. Unfortunately, it did not exploit this principle as Shebab did on matters regarding strict application of what they perceive to be God’s laws.

Things are changing though: the propaganda machine of FGS is catching up with its opponents, given conferences that are taking place in Mogadishu and subsequent communiques published. The timeframe referred to here is late August and early September of 2013.

In this view, Shebab is prone to practice tyranny, whereas FGS is prone to practice anarchy. The middle path, however, is in between them: peace and liberty.

Of course, the application of the principle of self-determination, let the people consult about their fate, has to be disciplined by widely endorsed corpus of rules and regulations. Otherwise, it will lead to extreme form of administrative and political fragmentation.

The provisional constitution, PC, you might say, can play this role of disciplining the application of this principle: let the people consult about their fate. As a result, the fundamental synthesis of these two principles is constitutionalism of self-determination.

Now, let us discuss about the rest of the agreement.

Clause 2 stipulates the term of IAJ, 2 years, whereas clause 4 stipulates the structure of the administration, regional assembly, think of parliament, and executive officers, think of ministers.

A clause 5 name who is going to be the head of the executive council, think of a president, as well as the head of all three regions: Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed Islaan.

Clause six and seven increase his powers: he shall appoint his deputies, three of them; it appears each one of them shall hail from one of the three regions constituting IAJ, and the rest of the people who shall constitute the executive officers of IAJ, in consultation with FGS, to ensure inclusivity.

Thus, clauses 5-6, take away the rights of the people who live in these regions to choose their governors indirectly or directly, if the conditions allow, and give them to Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed Islaan.
It is not clear whether his deputies shall become the governors of the three regions or some other people appointed by him shall become the governors of these regions.

In any case, he will be the head of all three regions, and shall appoint his deputies who will hail from these regions as well as the governors of these regions.

Addis Ababa agreement does not only impose structure upon the people who live in Jubba regions and Gedo, at least upon those people who oppose such structure, but it also selects leaders for them even though such arrangement, it appears, shall exist only until Local Government Act, LGA takes into effect. In any case, this is not right.

Clause 8 stipulates elders shall select members of the regional assembly of IAJ on the basis of districts constituting the IAJ.

Clause 9 reduces the powers of Sheikh Ahmed Islaan by leaving the governor of Gedo until LGA takes into effect, but allows him to appoint the governors of Middle Jubba and Lower Jubba in consultation with elders and FGS.

It is not clear what will happen if LGA comes into effect.

It is clear, however, Sheikh Ahmed Islaan will not be able to appoint a governor for Gedo because the administration will stay the same for now, per clause 9.

The same, also, applies to Middle Jubba, because Shebab controls the region, and therefore, he will not be able to appoint a governor until the region is liberated from Shebab.

Only Lower Jubba remains for him to appoint a governor.

Article 2 of the agreement deals with the management of public installations, such as air and sea ports, customs, or entry points of the country.

Clause 10-15 stipulates that FGS shall manage public installations of IAJ, such as air and sea ports; however, the current management of these installations shall remain in full force for the next 6 months.

Afterwards, FGS shall appoint a management, in consultations with IAJ, to manage the revenues of these public installations, in addition to the facilities themselves.

These clauses also stipulate the revenues collected from these installations shall be exclusively used for IAJ matters, such as security, service delivery and institutional development of IAJ.

This arrangement, stated clauses stipulate, shall remain in full force until national plan to share collected revenues is fully worked out through the constitutional process.

Some commentators, MM Uluso, in an article on Jubba published in many sites, including Hiiraan, titled Understanding the Jubba Agreement, and incorrectly thought that the current management of the sea and air ports shall remain in full force until national revenue sharing arrangement is fully worked out. That is not so. What shall remain in full force is the allocation of collected revenues not the management of the air and sea ports, per clause 12.

As to the customs, stated clauses, stipulate that FGS shall appoint immigration officers to all entry points of the IAJ.

Article three of the agreement deals with armed actors in Jubba regions and Gedo. Clause 16 of this article stipulates the integration of all armed actors, save Shebab, under the central command of Somalia’s National Army, SNA.

This includes the RasKamboni Brigade or militia of Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed Islaan and others. It reserves, however, the command of the regional police under the IAJ. The clause says nothing about who shall constitute this force.

This is important because the agreement assumes the primary conflict between in IAJ was between IAJ and FGS. From IAJ point of view this is correct, but not from other view points. Thus, the inclusive nature of the regional police force ought to be stated in clear terms, so that the regional police can become an inclusive body.

Clause 2 tasks IAJ and FGS to form a technical security committee who shall work out modalities and timetable to integrate all armed forces in the region and then place them under the central command of SNA. Clause 17-18 further tasks the technical committee on security reforms and asks them to coordinate with AMISOM, African Union Mission in Somalia.

Clause 19 asks FGS to give priority to IAJ as it reintegrates all security forces in the region because, It states, “that combatants, particularly lower-level Shebab fighters in the region can disengage from combat and return to civilian life in their home communities.” The reason given for the thesis in this clause does not support the thesis: FGS shall give priority to IAJ as it reintegrates all security forces in the region. The stipulation of the clause, therefore, is not supported.

Article 4, clause 20 asks the FGS to convene a reconciliation conference in Mogadishu within two weeks. A major conference is coming up for FGS within two weeks, that of the New Deal for Somalia Conference in Brussels, Belgium, on 16th of September, 2013.

It is difficult to see how all this could be done within this timeframe in manner that does justice all parties concerned.

Clause 20 also stipulates a follow-up conference to be held in Kismayo, the capital city of Lower Jubba region, to build peace, but does not specify a timeframe.

Clause 21 specifies some of the objectives of the conference in Mogadishu: to serve as a consultation mechanism for the purpose of completing the IAJ.

Clause 22 adds that a roadmap will be agreed during this conference that will lead to the establishment of Federal Member State.

This Mogadishu conference offers another opportunity to bring all communities in the Jubba regions and in Gedo to discuss about their matters in more inclusive manner. This is the reason why I think the timeframe matters because time is needed to develop a consensus on key issues among the relevant communities who live in the region.

This opportunity ought to not be squandered. The best way to squander this opportunity is to ignore opposing voices in Jubba provinces, Gedo, Bay and Bakool.

Clause 23 stipulates that the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia shall be the guarantor of this agreement.

This is was not a wise thing to do. The past of these two nations, Somalia and Ethiopia, recommends an alternate partner to serve as guarantor to an agreement of this nature.

The reason for this is self-evident. Ethiopia has strategic interests in Somalia that may or may not coincide with wishes and aspirations of the Somali people. There is, inevitably, a conflict of interest.

The international community should have been more prudent unless they are, inadvertently, repeating the imposition scenario of the roadmap and the PC on some, despite the documented evidence suggesting their unpopularity among some people [4].

If the international community is genuine about its fight against Shebab, then it ought to align itself with mainstream interests of the Somali people to provide legitimacy needed to fight Shebab.
Losing legitimacy in the eyes of the public has military implications.

Not a single soldier, as documented publically, went to Shebab areas to carry out anti-Shebab activities, while Shebab carries out daily operations in government held areas.

This is not an accident. It is due to, in part if not to large extent, lack of legitimate motivation to adventure for the purpose of promoting a preferred cause.

What could have galvanized the population? The galvanizing principle is known and the government subscribes to it: return sovereignties to people; let them discuss about their administrative structures as well as their political leadership. In doing so, let them make choices or make no choices and subsequently live with it.

The government is already holding a conference to this effect, but it should have taken smaller steps that suggest commitment to this future such as remove articles through the Federal parliament, inserted in the PC by so called roadmap signatories for reasons that were not clear.

Such articles task the central government to appoint leaders for regions that don’t unite to form a state, an incentive to Federalism.

Also, the FGS could have allowed, where feasible, people at district level, for instance, to choose their leaders indirectly, until such time as it is possible to elect their leaders directly.

Any infringement of this, let it be seen, whoever the actor might be, as an entity de-legitimizing public institutions of Somalia and as such embowering Shebab.

[1] “Mogadishu Rising, Conflict and governance dynamics in the Somali Capital,” Last modified August, 2012, see page 21, [url=][/url].
[2] See number 1.
[3] Catherin Besteman and Lee V. Cassanelli, ed., The Struggle for Land in Southern Somalia: The War Behind the War (London, HAAN Publishing, 1996).
[4] See number 1.

Samatalis Haille is an independent Political Analyst of Somalia, based in US

Article 21 May 2021 10:14

I read your article on Foreign Policy with keen eyes and interest. While whining from public officials does not deserve response from any sensible citizen of the Republic of Somalia, I felt compelled to counter false narrative with more objective analysis.