The Federal Government of Somalia has announced on Sunday that it will recognize Ahmed Mohamed Islam (Madobe) as the interim President of the Jubaland, reversing its previous position.

Previously, the Farmaajo administration refused to recognize the legitimacy of Madobe’s government after the latter handily won a four-year term in a complicated election in August 2019. The federal government called the election process unconstitutional and rejected the results.

The Federal Government issued a press release on the heels of historic Djibouti-brokered talks with Somaliland leaders, saying it was necessary to bury the hatchet with the Jubaland administration over the regional elections. The statement says that the federal government will recognize Madobe’s government as an interim administration for two years, starting from the end of the last term.

It added that the FGS decided to recognize Madobe’s government after consultations with cabinet members that included the Ministry of Interior, Federalism and Reconciliation.

Officials from Jubaland quickly rebuffed the statement, with one official pointing out that Mogadishu’s announcement has no legal precedent to dictate these terms to a member state.

Abshir Mohamed, Ahmed Madobe’s Chief of Staff, said that it goes against both the Somali Federal constitution and the Jubaland State constitution.

The Jubaland Constitution allows for a four-year mandate.

In a statement from Jubaland’s Office of the President, Jubaland says that the federal government must respect the will of the voters.

The latest developments come just days after the US, one of Somalia’s largest donors has called for an urgent resumption of talks between the Federal Government and Federal Member States (FMS) to address pressing national issues. Just two weeks before that, the UN Security Council made a similar appeal urging President Mohamed Farmaajo to convene the National Security Council.

Regional implications

The Jubaland dilemma has raised tensions between Kenya and Ethiopia, AMISOM troop-contributing allies who have different horses in the race.

Kenya has been a supporter and ally of Ahmed Mohamed Madobe while Ethiopia under ‘Brother Abiy’ has grown increasingly close to Farmaajo and Somalia’s federal government. Jubaland’s shoreline is ground-zero for a fiercely contested maritime dispute between Somalia and Kenya that will be settled in the International Court of Justice. The disputed area is thought to contain large deposits of oil and natural gas.

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