ADDIS ABABA: Somalia’s central government agreed yesterday to recognise a former Islamist commander as the interim leader of the southern Juba region, a deal that could help end months of clan fighting and cement plans for a federal nation.
Diplomats said the pact signed in Ethiopia’s capital, after days of talks and delays, was a significant step towards stabilising Somalia as it seeks to create devolved government, and could become a blueprint for sharing power in other areas.
An official from Mogadishu’s government signed the deal with Sheikh Ahmed Madobe, who has been vying for control of Jubaland’s port city of Kismayu and its hinterland against a clan warlord widely seen as backed by Mogadishu.
“We are hopeful that this process will be a starting point for Somalia to be a federal state,” Madobe said at the signing, through a translator. “There will be people who won’t be happy, but the fundamental issue is the interest of the Somali people.”
At the heart of the tussle over Kismayu has been control of the area’s economic resources, in particular its lucrative port.