The agreement Somaliland government and Khatumo administration signed in Ainaba district last month deprived Somaliland of using “insecurity” in eastern parts of the country as an excuse for delaying elections or banking on securitization model to control Sool. Dr. Ali Khalif Galaydh, the Khatumo administration leader, has chosen negotiation over hostility with Somaliland government. Pragmatism born of the refusal of people Galaydh views as his constituency to take up arms against Somaliland government pushed Khatumo leader to the negotiation table.
The exponential growth of the city of Lasanod owes to the industriousness of people who fled Mogadishu in 1991 and the diaspora communities from the region, who invested in real estate and other businesses in Sool. It is this group of people who turned their backs on bankrolling political violence caused by turncoat politicians benefiting from Puntland-Somaliland stand-off. What Galaydh unrealistically proposed in December 2011 and in 2014, when he was electedKhatumo president, was a middle way that spurned both Somaliland and Puntland administrations. Khatumo movement had brought Puntland and Somaliland closer for fear that Galaydh was an agent of destabilization for the Mogadishu-based Federal Government of Somalia.
The Ainaba Agreement marks the tenth anniversary since Somaliland administration captured Lasanod. For ten years Somaliland has relied on local militias affiliated with the current Somaliland Minister for Interior. The more Galaydh insisted on being the sole political leader of Sool people, the more Somaliland government strengthened its commitment to a partnership with local militias classified as Somaliland Army brigade. It is a situation that diverted the attention of Somaliland government from addressing the disputed territory status of Sool. Somaliland government was happy to portray its presence in Sool as a response to security challenges in the region. This policy has alienated people, who have shown confidence in Somaliland institutions in Sool to prevent the region from slipping into anarchy.
The significance of Ainaba agreement lies in the commitment of the outgoing Somalailand government to implementing key articles in the agreement — integrating Khatumo militias into Somaliland forces; revising Somalilandconstitution to ensure genuine power-sharing, and to make Sool accessible to aid workers to address underdevelopment caused by the conflict and disputed territory status.
By signing the agreement with Khatumo leader, the Somaliland government rewarded political vision over political loyalty. Last year when Dr. Galaydh began talks with Somaliland government, a group of influential local leaders had organized a meeting in Awrboogays hamlet to cobble an alliance between the former Somaliland Minister for Water, Bashe Ali Jama and the Interior Minister, Yasin Haji Mohamud, to preempt agreement that could make Somaliland a more inclusive polity. Somaliland did not support the Awrboogayns meeting, which was aimed to pave the way to an all-clan summit devoid of political vision. Somaliland government denied Awrboogays group the opportunity to lay claim on the political representation of Sool people. The lesson from Awrboogays fiasco is that politicians from a constituency may not necessarily have interests of their people heart.
Although the agreement is intended to be a remarkable legacy of President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamud, neither the ruling party’s presidential candidate, Muuse Bihi nor the Waddani party’s presidential candidate, Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullahi, has expressed support for the landmark political agreement.
Bashi Ali Jama, whom Waddani appointed as a senior member of the leadership committee of the party, supports Ainaba agreement. Only, UCID presidential candidate, Faisal Ali Warabe, who was involved in Khatumo-Somaliland talks unequivocally supports Ainaba Agreement. Somaliland government and political parties have an opportunity to de-escalate Sool political conflict through demobilization and follow-up talks for Sool politicians particularly those allied with militias loyal to Somaliland government. The ball is in Hargeisa’s court. It has to show it has interests of all its citizens at heart.