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Governing Kismayo, a tall order for outsiders: analysts

Saturday, October 06, 2012

MOGADISHU, Oct. 6 (Xinhua) -- with the fall of the southern Somali port city of Kismayo to allied Kenya and local forces, problems of governing the resource-rich strategic provincial capital came to the fore with analysts saying is "more complex than thought."

The allied forces from neighboring Kenya and Somali government troops last week forced the radical militant group of al-Shabaab out of the southern port city of Kismayo after nearly a year of gradual advancing toward the coastal town.

Hundreds of heavily-armed troops carried out an overnight descended from the beach and forced the radicals out of Kismayo, the provincial capital of Lower Juba province. The city straddles along the coast of the Indian Ocean and is 500 km south of the Somali capital Mogadishu.

Kismayo has been a thorny part of the country where a number of local clans fought over its control since the collapse of the country's central government back in 1991 and has changed hands between various clans who lay claim to it.

Following the capture of the strategic city, the task of governing it has become the reoccupation of not only the local clans bickering over it but the Somali government and neighboring countries as well.

Faruk Yasin is a Somali academic in Mogadishu. He said the sides need to be careful as to how they approach forming an administration for the city because that could be a "make or break" exercise for all.

"We all know what Kismayo politics looks like and for those outsiders who don't know the intricacies local politics of the city and the bitter rivalries between various clans, I think they need to be more careful not to be seen to be backing one side over another," Yasin told Xinhua in Mogadishu.

He added any initial structure should be as inclusive as possible and an interim before genuine local reconciliation can be undertaken.

Reports said that talks sponsored by neighboring countries are currently underway in the Kenyan capital Nairobi for the formation of local administration. Somali government has repeatedly said it has to be at the forefront of the effort to form an administration for the city.

Hassa Aalim, a Somali political scientist, said that Somali government needs to play a key role in post-Al-Shabaab Kismayo administration and be at the given by partners "the sovereign right to govern its own internal affairs".

"The situation in Kismayo could only be made complex it Somali government does not assume its proper role and take the lead in bring the various clans inhabiting in the region so that they can form a local administration without any foreign intervention," Aalim said.

Aalim said if Somali government's role is denied by other partners, local clan rivalry could overspill and jeopardize the African Union (AU) peacekeeping Mission (AMISOM) of which Kenya is a part.

"I don't understand why Somali government is being sidelined in deciding the governance of a key province such as the southern provinces and Kismayo in particular. That is a catastrophe for the whole AU peacekeeping project in the country," Aalim contended.

Mohamoud Ali, another Somalia analyst, echoed his voice saying Somali government could better positioned to mediate between the clans and similar formula for the conflict resolution and political dispensation used to share power at the national level could be used to solve the Kismayo problem.

"Kismayo, is in essence is a microcosm of Somalia ills, and with various clans wanting a share of the power in the region Somali government could be seen as honest broker to mediate between the clans and get a formula similar to the one that has helped at the national level," said Ali.

" It could let clans share power in similar fashion as the national level after true local reconciliation is attained inside Somalia instead of one concocted outside the country" He added.


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