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Thursday, January 7, 2016, parliamentary delegation led by the Speaker of the federal parliament, Professor Mohamed Sheikh Osman Jawari visited Dhusamareb, capital of Galgudud region, the constitutional headquarter of the Interim Galmudug Administration (IGA)formed in Adado city in July 2015. The purpose of the visit has been described as an endeavor to explore the premises for the resumption of a long overdue dialogue between the federal government of Somalia (FGS)-cum-IGA and Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama (ASWJ), stalled days before the election of IGA parliamentary Speaker in June 2015. ASWJ remit falls under the sphere of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
Supporters of regional state in the central regions voiced repeatedly the need of direct engagement between the FGS and ASWJ for political inclusivity and confidence building which is fundamental for shared governance. It is worth recalling that political inclusivity is one of the milestones of peace building and state building goals of the New Deal signed by the FGS with the International Community at Brussels, Belgium in September 2013.
Leaders of ASWJ continue to maintain the position of being ready to enter into dialogue with the FGS-cum-IGA for successful and lasting integration and cohesion. The FGS is the national authority expected to guarantee the implementation of any political settlement concluded after honest and fair discussion.
To the surprise of many observers, IGA and federal political figures denounced the visit of Speaker Jawari to Dhusamareb. Without excluding the possibility of ulterior political motives underpinning the visit, the angry denunciation of the Speaker shows poor judgment, level of disrespect and distrust among political leaders, and the overall dysfunction of the federal government.
In duplicity, the FGS and IGA sought the mediation of IGAD officials (Kenya and Ethiopia) before any attempt of direct engagement with ASWJ or exploration of other alternatives. Paradoxically, last November, ASWJ and IGA delegations visited Ethiopia on the basis of separate official invitations of the Government of Ethiopia and FGS did not protest. These dynamics are important developments that deserve parliamentary attention and scrutiny for public interest.
Within the framework of the Constitution and political system of Somalia, the Speaker of the Parliament has major role in dealing with the political problems existing between FGS-cum-IGA and ASWJ. The Federal Parliament has the responsibility of conducting public hearings on all issues that vex the Somali people, including ASWJ case. The involvement of the Speaker partakes the efforts for the inclusion of ASWJ in the federation and democratization process envisaged in Vision 2016.
However, it seems that the policy of President Hassan’s team is to prolong the paralysis of IGA and ASWJ and to confine the utility of IGA in national political alliances for power play. This harmful political strategy is to undermine the hope of the local population for development as well as for independent and effective interactions with other federal member states and FGS. It is believed that President Hassan is the principle enforcer of unwarranted political hardball against ASWJ. Indeed, ASWJ is removed from the concern and consideration of FGS decision makers.
ASWJ emerged in 2008 and gained international recognition and confidence in the fight against Al Shabab. The international community supported the inclusion of ASWJ in the Transitional Federal Government of President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Prime Minister Omar Abdidrashid through an agreement signed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on March 15, 2010.The UN Security Council endorsed the agreement. In difference to other local entities, ASWJ claims to possess religious, clan diversity, and organizational characteristics.
The FGS of President Hassan Sheikh rejected ASWJ as a valuable partner and removed ASWJ loyalists from the federal and local government positions. This has embittered ASWJ followers. In 2013, FGS signed an agreement with ASWJ for recognition and integration. But, informed sources confide that President Hassan shelved the implementation of the agreement.
The Hardball play with ASWJ fits a pattern of contentious relation between FGS and Dhusamareb Community. There are several cases that demonstrate grievances and falling out like the clash over the venue and capital of IGA, the fighting between federal government and ASWJ forces in Guri El, believed to be instigated by the federal government, the lack of implementation of the ceasefire agreement signed on March 5, 2015, and other government mistreatments. As of today, the killed, wounded, and displaced civilians as a result of wrong government policy are not helped and compensated.
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