Efforts to establish a semi-autonomous region on Kenya’s border with Somalia have engaged fresh gears.
Leaders from the three regions of lower and middle Juba and Gedo – that forms the new Azania state are meeting in Nairobi to firm up plans of nominating at least 65 MPs and a house of elders who will assist in the region’s governance.
“The MPs and the council of elders will be nominated by their various clans,” said Prof Mohammed Gandi, a former defense minister of Somalia, who was recently elected the President of the semi-autonomous region in an interview.
“We want to move forward and ensure that we have a functional government soon so that we can start offering the much needed services to our people,” he added.
“Once they have been nominated, they will be sworn in alongside the yet to be appointed House Speaker…my administration will then be ready to take over and bring stability,” went on Prof Gandi.
His sentiments come in the wake of criticism by some Somali parliamentarians mainly hailing from the Gedo region, who claim the Azania administration doesn’t represent clans of Somalia.
Mr Ahmed Mohamed Abukar, one of the legislators was recently quoted as having said that Azania was not formed in accordance with the rules of the country, pointing out they will not support that administration.
However, Prof Gandi said they would be bringing in everyone on board in the administration of the newly created region, which is expected to provide a buffer zone that will prevent the entry of refugees and illegal arms into Kenya.
“We have had several consultations with a number of people from the area including amongst others, village elders, civil society and religious society leaders with an aim of bringing everyone on board,” he said.
The meetings have led to the adoption of a charter on how the new semi autonomous state is to be governed, how power is to be shared, representation amongst others.
The semi autonomous region will be modelled like Puntland and Somaliland in the northern part of Somalia.
Kenya is reportedly interested in helping develop the new regional administration establish a buffer zone between it and the Islamist insurgency in southern Somalia.
However, neighbouring Ethiopia is reportedly unhappy about the plan and Kenya’s involvement in it, as it fears that the project will have an effect on its own military struggle against rebels in the Somali-inhabited Ogaden region, who seek independence.
Prof Gandi said they were indeed ready to bring about stability in the three regions currently occupied by the Al-Shabaab militia. The rebels are opposed to a breakaway region.
Administration and security forces, he said, were ready to liberate the three regions from the extremist group.
“We are now ready to liberate the region from the Al-Shabaab. Our aim is to restore nationhood, unity and integrity of the Somali people,” he added.
Prof Gandhi expressed confidence that their mission will succeed.
He said the people in the three regions were ‘tired’ of the Al-Shabaab group, adding that this had presented a clear and ‘favourable’ opportunity for them to take over.
By DAVE OPIYO firstname.lastname@example.org