On July 30, 2014, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud presided a meeting in which it was intended to create central state consisting of Mudug and Galgaduud region while international community were present led by Nicholas Kay, United Nation representative for political affair in Somalia.
In that meeting, it was reported that all the stakeholders in the central State including Hubin and Heeb, Galmudug and Ahlisuna Waljamaca representatives were present and agreed to intent to create Central State.
However, immediately after the announcement of creating Central State in Villa Somalia, it was expected, as usually seen in last two states formed, certain group of opposition would come forward claiming the meeting was not inclusive, but the reaction created by this announcement was much different from any other responses as result of earlier states formed.
This was the first time the government was accused of forging signature of one of the signatories in the document presented to International Community. President of Hubin and Heeb, Abdulahi Ali Mohamed, publicly stated that the signature on the document circulated by the government was not his while showing the copy of forged signature to the reporters in press conference in Mogadishu. He added that it was true that his administration was in negotiation with other stakeholders in the region to form central state for last seven months, but the final agreement was not finalized yet.
The other representatives of Ahlusuna Wajamca and Galmudug Vice President also stated in video broadcasted in Somali websites that the agreement reached in Villa Somalia violated the constitution because the constituents were not involved and therefore as result, they would not recognize that agreement.
Puntiland president Abdiwali Mohamed Ali also announced that Puntiland state would cut, effective August 1, 2014 , all the relationship with current government which he said it’s leadership violated constitution by creating a central state in which its current form as presented in that meeting lay claim part of the Puntiland state.
It seemed that everyone who supposedly involved in creating central state or were involved in the ongoing negotiation were caught off guard by the president’s decision to hold that meeting with international community present. They (Stake holders) did not expect the president and his team would go that far to the point where one of the signatures would be forged in order to show international community the progress Somalia government is making toward forming states supposedly be member of the federal government.
The only group who took this announcement as progress being made toward creating regional administration was international community led by Nicholas Kay. He seemed to accomplish something big afterward since he was able to report this information back to UN headquarter as another mile stone accomplished. One would wonder why the same announcement in the Villa Somalia was reported in UNSOM website twice with different headlines as one report was not enough.
Afterward, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who thought he satisfied his international obligation by any mean that was necessary but knew the reality, tried to control the damage he created by announcing the intent to create central State. He assured to all stakeholders that the intent was to create central state and final agreement was not reached yet by all involved, adding that the government would not violate constitution and would not allow interference of other existed states such as Puntiland.
This indicates that the president knew the document signed in Villa Somalia cannot be implemented on the ground. He was aware some of the people whom he claimed to sign the document did not sign and therefore, realized more time is needed in order to finalize the agreement. In addition he recognized that the whole Mudug and Galgaduud region cannot become as state since northern part of the Mudug region is part of the Puntiland.
Few days later, when Nicholas Kay realized that the ceremony in villa Somalia was a makeup, he tried to save face. He immediately contacted the president of Hubin and Heeb and urged him to sign the document of intent to create Central State. President of Hubin and Heeb was assured that this was not final document, but intent to participate a negotiation.
It became apparent to Nicholas Kay that he is on his own if he intends to make any progress in Somalia and he cannot count on the president and his team any longer. President Hassan is not helping the situation since his approach so far seemed to be reactive without solid plan and without considering the consequence of his action.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud should realize that satisfying international community on these photo opportunity meetings will not result any progress and he will need to show progress not only on the paper but on the ground. He cannot lead the country by being reactive to all the pressure put on and instead, he should focus involving all the stakeholders in the negotiation well ahead of any schedule given to by international community. In addition, President should not make a decision that he knows it will back fire.
It is not easy that two or more states to form regional administration after especially over 23 years of no central government. And in order to reach real sustainable agreement, it is necessary for all stakeholders to have enough time to negotiate and anything signed within moment notice will lead failure as in this case. It only creates mistrust among those involved.
On the other hand, international community should not accept any more or run with it any progress shown on the paper without real progress being made on the ground. By doing so will only prolong the suffering of Somali people.
Mohamed A. Hussein.
Political analyst in the Horn of Africa.