The Intergovernmental Authority on Development has recently published an unsigned and troubling Memorandum of Understanding which indicates that the new government of Somalia is allowing Kenya and Ethiopia to oversee the “political and administrative arrangements in South-central Somalia”.
Ethiopia claims this MOU was signed by a Somalia General, Mohamed Sheikh Hassan, authorised by the Somalia Prime Minister.
This unsigned MOU theoretically provides the legal platform for the securitisation of all the Somali regions in the South without delineating the areas of jurisdiction, core operations and oversight.
Furthermore, the MOU creates legal questions with respect to the operations of the troops under the African Union Mission in Somalia as there is no reference about these forces in the document.
The MOU supposedly legitimises the escalation and presence of Kenyan and Ethiopian troops and the involvement of the two countries in Somalia.
Moreover, it is designed to undermine the leadership of the Somalia President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, as it gives no consideration to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Somalia.
Given that Kenya and Ethiopia have been and continue to be the destabilising actors in Somalia, the Somali people believe that these countries intend to derail the new government’s priority to stabilise and unite the country.
By claiming to be pursuing a fight against the extremist group al Shabaab, both countries have deployed their troops without any legal endorsement and insist on arranging local administrations, thereby interfering in the political independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Somalia.
Both countries receive political, military and economic assistance from the United States and its allies as they are convenient and effective allies in the “war against al Shabaab”. This opportune arrangement is not viewed favourably in Somalia.
Similarly, it should be noted that while the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Somalia, Mr Mahiga, has welcomed the MOU in and underscored that Somalia was represented, no Somali government official has acknowledged that the country was represented at the December 6 meeting.
This raises some concern about Mr Mahiga’s position and as a result, the UN might find itself drawn into a diplomatic tug-of-war.
In his article ‘Kenya’s Political Failure in Southern Somalia’ Dr Weinstein notes that Kenya and Ethiopia have a grand design for Somalia. He argues by the time these two countries complete the plan, Southern Somalia will have three distinct “semi-autonomous states” that are ruled by “Somali clients”.
Kenya is to establish the Jubbaland state by merging the three Somali regions close to its border, the Lower Jubba, Middle Jubba and Gedo. Ethiopia would impose its will on most of the central regions of Somalia.
The Amisom forces would establish the third “state”, Banadir region, along with Mogadishu and its surrounding areas. By creating these entities, Kenya and Ethiopia hope to a create weak and unstable country as they view a strong Somalia as a security threat.
However, the Somali people have shown earnest support for President Mohamud who has opposed the interference in the affairs of Somalia by Kenya and Ethiopia.
This MOU underscores the need for Somalia to strengthen its political and diplomatic practices and negotiations and the necessity to assert itself on the domestic front.
The Somali people are nervously waiting for clarification regarding the MOU from the Somali government. One way or the other, the arrangements outlined in the MOU will have enormous and lasting consequences on peace and security in the Horn of Africa.