Somalia: govt struggles to overcome impasse in inter-regional state formation

Racing against time to break an impasse in the negotiations for the formation of the proposed interregional state for Hiiraan and Middle Shabelle regions, Somalia’s government continues to push for the resumption of negotiations with Hiiraan elders who boycotted previous rounds of talks.

The Mogadishu-based government which aims to complete the implementation of the federalism system throughout the country before the horn of Africa nation heads for presidential elections due mid this year signaled its willing to convince elders to return to negotiating table.

However, the persistent standoff had dealt a potential blow to Somali president efforts, seen as the best chance to form an inter-regional state for the neighbouring regions. Several attempts by Mr. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud who travelled to the region more than a few times to secure the regional elders’ endorsement for the initiative ended without breakthrough. The council of the region’s elders said it snubbed to attend the state formation conference which was held in Jowhar, the regional capital of Middle Shabelle region, as result of unmet promises by the president, an action they said led to their boycott in attending the talks.

However, the government remains adamant in efforts to resume negotiations, with Somalia’s interior minister Abdirahman Mohamed Hussein who’s in charge of the Somali government’s federalization initiative said that despite challenges, the government was determined to shuttle between the two sides to end the stalemate.

“We know that this is a complex process, but no matter how long it takes, we shall continue working hard towards the foundation of an environment in which an inclusive state can be formed – the process is inching ahead though.” He said.

Mr. Hussein has also indicated challenges facing a government delegation in the region  as elders maintained their opposition towards the government-led efforts to resume negotiations.

Despite facing arrays of criticism, Somali government had promised of ensuring to develop a ‘fair’ and ‘comprehensive process, in an effort to form an ‘inclusive’ regional state.

However, elders accused the government of mishandling the initiative, citing vagueness in running the process which they said fell short of their expectations.

In addition, political analysts have earlier pointed out complexities surrounding the state’s formation process, given lack of consensus, mistrust and rivalry among clans in the two regions.