The government pulled two agreements signed between Somalia and Ethiopia during the sunset years of former president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s administration to build its case for the transfer and subsequent declaration of embattled ONLF senior figure Abdikarim Muse aka Qalbi Dhagah as a terrorist and establishing a link with the militant group Al-Shabaab.
In a meeting Wednesday following public uproar over the handover of Qalbi Dhagah a week ago, the Justice ministry presented the cabinet with two agreements-one signed May 2, 2016 and another in June 7 2015 which were also approved by cabinet in today’s seating.
ONLF and Al-Shabaab
The 2015 draft agreement seen by Goobjoog News classifies Al-Shabaab and the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) as enemies of both countries noting, ‘both parties agree to fight Al-Shabaab and UBBO (reference to ONLF) and any other enemy.’ The document was signed by Ethiopia’s director of Foreign Affairs Amb. Shamsuddin Ahmed Rooble and Somalia’s Minister of State in the office of the President Mahad Mohamed Salaad.
The agreement among others acknowledged the rights of Somalis as citizens living in the Somali region of Ethiopia and that they shall be treated equally as other citizens before the law. The pact also outlines any conflict in the Somali region of Ethiopia shall be dealt with by the Ethiopia government in consultation with local elders.
The Ethiopian parliament in 2010 named ONLF, the Oromo Liberation Front and the Ginbot 7 – as “terrorists” alongside international groups like Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabab following the passage of a controversial anti-terrorism law the previous year.
In a communique also seen by Goobjoog News signed May 2, 2016 in the Ogaden town of Jigjiga by then Posts and Telecommunication minister Mohamed Jama Mursal and Ethiopia’s director of Foreign Affairs Amb. Shamsuddin Ahmed Rooble, the two countries re-affirmed the 2015 agreement identifying ONLF and Al-Shabaab as common enemies.
Then President of Galmudug Abdikarin Guled and Somali state in Ethiopia president Abdi Mohamed Omar co-signed the agreement.
With the two documents interpreted, the cabinet prosecuted its case a week after a sustained public outrage. It summed up its argument thus: ‘Abdikarim Muse is a top leader of armed ONLF and at the same time carried out dangerous activities in Somalia and the region and had an intimate relationship with Al-Shabaab terrorists.”
“These agreements clearly indicate that “enemies from both sides-Al-Shabaab and ONLF are a danger to the security of the two countries and [call for] full attention by the two countries in order to cooperate fighting them in a unified way,” the cabinet noted in a statement Wednesday.
The cabinet added it will also undertake necessary review of the agreements entered by the former administration to ensure they are in conformity with the laws of the land.
Wednesday’s announcement by the cabinet marks a new level in the debate on Qalbi Dhagah’s hand over to the Ethiopian government. Qalbi Dhaga’s family have since dismissed claims linking him to any illegal activity noting the former military man had dedicated his life to fighting for the cause of Somalia and its sovereignty. His wife, Khadro Mohamed told Goobjoog News the Federal Government fabricated a case against Qalbi Dhagah before handing over to Ethiopia.
“Abdikarim used to have a Somali passport. They made for him a fake diplomatic passport and took all documents from him,” said Khadro.
This past week has also seen Somalis take to the streets in parts of the country including the capital and Dadaab camp in Kenya’s north east condemning the transfer of Qalbi Dhagah. Somalis in the social media have also expressed outrage over the development.
A heated debated on the development is expected on Saturday as MPs resume business. Several MPs have since questioned the government’s intent in transferring Qalbi Dhagah and are likely to demand further explanation especially in light of Wednesday’s government position.