THE CONSPICUOUS ABSENCE of the Jubbaland president Ahmed Mohamed Islam and his Puntland counterpart Abdiweli Mohamed Gas in the High Level Partnership Forum, HLPF in Mogadishu Wednesday spoke volumes of a fractured relationship between Villa Somalia and the two regional states.
In what could be seen as a strong message to Mogadishu, the two leaders gave the meeting a wide berth despite shuttle diplomacy by the Prime Minister Abdiweli Omar Abdirashid to Puntland this month and a charm offensive by the president to Kismayo last week.
In his opening remarks during the forum, president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud sought to dispel any fears of a rift between the Federal government and the regional states but only expressed his disappointment over Somaliland’s absence though the latter could easily be counted out in such arrangements.
“I am pleased that Somalia is present here as one delegation with representation from the regional interim administrations. I am saddened that Somaliland has decided not to join us but the federal government will make sure they benefit from the Somali Compact,” said President Mohamud.
But the UN Special Representative to Somalia Nikolas Kay did not mince his words in expressing his dismay for but absolved Villa Somalia of any blame. “We had expected all regional presidents and leaders to be with us. This is not the case despite the considerable effort made by the federal government and many others in the room today to reach out and smooth the road to Mogadishu,” said Kay.
Kay said the participation of Somali leadership at large was critical to achieving goals as set out in the previous HLPF and the 2013 Somali Compact which underlined five Peace Building and State Building Goals (PSGs). The goals are,legitimate politics, security, justice, economic foundations and revenue and services.
Galmudug State president Abdikarim Hussein Guled and his South West State counterpart Sharif Hassan Shikh Adan attended the conference.
The failure by Gas and Islam (Madobe) to attend the two day event points to divisions between Villa Somalia and the two regional states which have overtly expressed their displeasure with the federal government over some issues.
Though Puntland and Jubbaland do not necessarily share a common problem with Mogadishu, their coming together is largely circumstantial given their individual concerns against the federal government. On the one hand Puntland has accused the federal government of conspiring to annex part of its land and apportion it to the new Galmudug state while on the other Jubbaland is largely vexed by the resolution by parliament in June to declare the Jubbaland Assembly unconstitutional.
Kay said the absence of the two leaders was indicative of the need for more strong ties and collaboration between the various state actors in the country in order to build the country. “Their absence, while a disappointment only reinforces the need to continue to build more and stronger bridges on the way to a united and democratic and federal Somalia,” said Kay.
At least 30 international delegations are in attendance in the international two day forum.