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AU should press Kenya, Ethiopia over partisan interests in Somalia-report

Storyline:National News, Security

By T. Roble

The African Union should pressure Kenya and Ethiopia to end their partisan interests in Somalia to avert further security break-down especially in the Jubbaland where the two have had a near clash experience, International Crisis Group has said.

In its latest brief, Ending the Dangerous Standoff in Southern Somalia released Tuesday, Crisis Group warned the move by the two troops contributing countries to AMISOM to pick sides in the political tussle between Mogadishu and Jubbaland risked aggravating an already fragile situation.

“While both Ethiopia and Kenya certainly will want to avoid direct confrontation, tensions in their relationship raise concerns about how far they might go to militarily support their respective Somali allies,” the brief read in part.

Crisis Group also warned the divergent positions taken by the two countries ‘represent a serious challenge to AMISOM’s effectiveness.’

To avert the adverse consequences, Crisis Group said, the AU through regional units like IGAD should step in.

“The African Union, along with the eastern African sub-regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority for Development, and Somalia’s bilateral partners, should lean on Ethiopia and Kenya to push the two sides to de-escalate tensions,” Crisis Group said.


It noted the talks will also allow the two sides to refocus their fight against Al-Shabaab which the brief notes is reaping from a break-down of relations between the two regional heavyweights.

Kenya and Ethiopia threw their weight behind Kismayu and Mogadishu respectively in the build-up to and after the presidential elections in Jubbaland which saw President Ahmed Madobe re-elected in last September.

The Federal Government which had the support of Ethiopia went ahead to denounce the poll and declared it would not recognize Madobe’s election. However, that stance changed last month when the Federal Government said it would now recognize Madobe’s election but only for a two year term.

Crisis Group has however advised the Federal Government to let Madobe serve for the whole four year term but strike a deal for him not to seek another term. Madobe and his political rivals Abdirashid Hidig and Abdinasir Serar have since signed a pact which among others tie Madobe against another term.

An estimated 56,000 people were displaced in Gedo region early this year following tensions between the Federal Government troops and Jubbaland forces commanded by security minister Abdirashid Janan.