Tuesday, January 12, 2016
JOWHAR (HOL) – Somalia’s president has opened the long-awaited Hiiraan and Middle Shabelle inter-regional state formation conference in the agricultural town of Jowhar Tuesday despite a boycott by Hiiraan elders over ‘broken’ promises.
The elders who have previously agreed to attend the conference in Jowhar, the regional capital of Lower Shabelle region accused Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of breaking promises related to their attendance to the talks.
“I hereby declare that the government will spare no efforts to complete this process to enable the formation of an administration for the two regions.” Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Somali president said in the opening speech.
Officials said that dozens of delegates, elders and legislators attended the conference which aims to narrow the contentious issues, the first step in the government’s ‘road-map’ to form an inclusive
inter-regional state for the neighboring regions.
Somalia’s government has not disclosed how long the conference will continue.
However, elders and politicians in the central Somali town of Beledweyne have held a separate parallel conference Tuesday, calling Jowhar’s conference as ‘inconclusive’ which seeks ‘unrealistic’ goals.
“They have dispatched an aircraft that was supposed to transport delegates from our side here today, however, we are telling them: Our people have rejected your proposal, and we shall never recognize any outcome from that conference.” said Ahmed Abdulle Jimale, one of the regions’s leading traditional elders at the meeting.
Somali government hasn’t so far commented on the development would further chip away at the government’s efforts to bring the two sides on the table to neutralize their political tensions.
Hiiraan elders have earlier set tough terms on their endorsement for the formation of an inter-regional state with its neighboring MiddleShabelle region, demanding that their region’s capital be picked
as the proposed state's capital and conference's venue, a suggestion dismissed by its neighbouring region.
The elders’ refusal to attend the conference had dealt a potential blow to the president’s efforts, seen as the best chance to form an inter-regional state for the neighbouring regions.
Political analysts have earlier pointed out complexities surrounding the state's formation process, given lack of consensus, mistrust and rivalry among clans in the two regions.