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Jubbaland's leader, in contrast to Mogadishu, wins a new mandate



The president of Jubbaland, a Somali critical region for the East African struggle against Shebaab's Islamist militants, won a new mandate yesterday, highlighting a growing rift between the federal government and its semi-autonomous states.
The competition has fueled tensions between Kenya and Ethiopia, longtime allies who both have large contingents of peacekeepers in the country and see Jubbaland as a buffer zone against Islamist attacks in their own countries.
Kenya supports the winner, Ahmed Mohamed Madobe, while Ethiopia has grown ever closer to the federal government in Mogadishu.
Madobe won 56 of the 74 votes cast in the regional parliament, declared the parliamentary speaker Cabdi Maxamed Abdirahmaan.
"I am ready to sit down and talk to all the people, including the opposition. I will speak and work with anyone who has a complaint, "Madobe told parliament after the vote.
Numerous opposition candidates who had been banned from registering for the election said they voted in Kismayo yesterday, electing Abdirashid Mohamed Hidig.
The federal government in Mogadishu, which had called the electoral process unconstitutional, declared that it had rejected both contexts.
The Interior Ministry said he "does not recognize the two different results in Kismayo, where two people claimed to be the president of Jubbaland".
Jubbaland is seen as the bread basket of Somalia and the capital Kismayo is a strategically important port.
Its coastline outlines a heavily disputed maritime area, with potential oil and gas fields, claimed by both Somalia and Kenya.
Madobe expelled Shebaab from Kismayo in 2012 with the help of the Kenyan forces, then took power and was elected for the first time in 2015.
Hundreds of people gathered in the streets of Kismayo after the announcement of the result, singing "Viva Ahmed Madobe!" And waving his picture.
Jubbaland is the third of the seven semi-autonomous regions of Somalia to hold presidential elections before the national vote next year.
While analysts say that the federal president, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, must exercise greater control over Jubbaland and the other regions to get the chance to win next year, they also expect the federal government to accept yesterday's result reluctantly despite previous fears of violence.
"They will have to live with (Madobe)," said Hussein Sheikh-Ali, a former national security adviser and founder of the Mogadishu-based think tank, the Hiraal Institute.
Shebaab controls areas of the territory and several cities of Jubbaland and analysts say it could exploit the spit during the elections.
The militants, who want to overthrow the Somali government, have killed thousands of Somalis and hundreds of civilians throughout East Africa and in a ten-year insurrection.
Somalia is still trying to make its way through the embers of the civil war that engulfed it in 1991, when the warlords of the clan overthrew a dictator and lit another.


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