Addis Abeba, May 04/2019 – In an extraordinary meeting it held on May 03 in Jigjiga city, the cabinet of Somali Regional State unilaterally withdrew from a 2014 agreement transfering three twons to Afar regional state and nullified the agreement.
It also said it was bolstering “the security and the stability of border areas without crossing the Somali Administrative border.” However, it is not clear if Somali region security forces have moved into the three Kebeles. Addis Standard has requested for clarifications and is waiting for official response.
According to a federal security official, who spoke with Addis Standard on conditions of anonymity, “the three towns are already in the hands of the Federal Military. Afar Liyu Police has been withdrawn after clashes with local Population about three months’s ago. [The Somali regional state forces] will not move into the three towns.”
In a resolution the Somali regional state Cabinet issued late last night the regional state’s cabinet also said: “the regional cabinet has unanimously agreed that the illegal agreement that has transferred the three towns of Garba-Issa, Undufo and Adeytu to the Afar Regional State is an agreement that has no base under the federal constitution while at the same time lacking the will of the same people impacted by the decisions under consideration coupled with a dangerous set of coercion tactics and bad faith as engineered by contrabandists under the cover of Afar Regional state.”
The 2014 agreement three Kebelles which were previously under Somali regional state to Afar regional state. They are: Candhayto, Candhufto & Garbo-Ciise.
The decision by the cabinet came in the immediate wake of reported killings of eleven Somali pastoralists by what witnesses said were members of the Afar regional state special forces. An accusation confirmed by Somali region deputy president Mustafa Omer.
The killings happened deep inside Sitti zone of Somali region not in the disputed three towns, prompting the Somali regional state to deploy its forces to the border areas affected by the conflict with “strict instructions that our forces do not cross into Afar Region territories but protect Somali civilians in the border areas.” Mohamed Olad, communication advisor of President Mustefa Omer told Addis Standard. “We seek a peaceful resolution to the unconstitutional transfer of the three towns (fully inhabited by Somalis who do not want to be under Afar Region) — an illegal, immoral and illogical decision imposed on Somalis by contrabandists who wanted to sow discord between the brotherly Somali and Afar People.”
The following is the full version of the resolution issued by Somali Regional Government Cabinet
It is to be recalled that an interest group of federal and regional contrabandists have transferred the three Somali towns of Garba-Issa, Undhufo, and Adeytu to the Afar Regional Administration in an agreement between the two regions that has no constitutional basis to it.
After a long discussion, the Somali Regional Executive Council (the cabinet) has underscored the importance of ensuring that the Somali people under Afari administration get their full set of rights as well as ensuring their safety and security until such point that there is an Afari government that is committed to justice as well as upholding the federal constitution. On the other hand, the regional government registered a formal written complaint with the federal government to ensure the socio-economic as well as political rights of Somalis in the said three towns that were illegally transferred to the Afar Regional administration. In the interest of providing proper context to the issues discussed here; the following terms were included in the agreement signed between the two regional governments on 02/04/2007 E.C.:
- That the people in the said three towns should be able to genuinely self-administer by having all the three branches of local governments under relevant jurisdictions.
- That the people of the said three towns should be able to have an access to an education system that uses their mother tongue as the medium of communication.
- That Af-Soomali is the working language for government institutions as well as the court system in the said three towns.
- That people of the three towns should be fully represented in administrative and legislature councils both at the Zonal and regional levels.
- That sufficient budget should be allocated to address the developmental as well as good governance needs of the people in the said three cities.
- That the Somali region should help the Afar Region in addressing the curriculum and teachers training needs of the said three towns.
- That the Federal government should follow up and supervise the implementation of the agreement between the two regions at the same time support the people of the said three cities in areas of development such as water, health and education.
However, though relative peace has prevailed over the areas that include the said three towns and their surroundings, the Afar Regional government has failed to respect it’s part of the bargain. Aside from the lack of respect for the human and constitutional rights of the Somali ethnic people under its rule, the Afari government subjected the Somali people in the said area with recurring massacres and displacements. In addition to that, the Afari Liyu police has raided countless times in to the Somali side of the border and have committed killings, bodily injury, and displacement of countless innocent Somali civilians in the areas that lie the Somali-Afar border. It is worthy mentioning that the Afari Liyu Police, in tandem with Afar rebels active in the area as well as anti-change elements and rent-seekers, have undertaken a massacre in Madane Kebele of Ma’eyso Woreda of the Somali Region. Also, they illegally abducted humanitarian staff workers for the Save the Children while they were in the midst of their mission in Danlahelay Kebele of Afdem Woreda in the Somali region are still languishing in Afari jails.
On the other hand, since at the onset of the current democratic transition in the region, the Somali regional government is committed to finding a fundamental political solution to the constitutional questions raised by ethnic Somalis in the areas that were illegally put under Afari rule that has a constitutional base to it and at the same time strengthen the peaceful and neighborly coexistence of the two brotherly Nations. However, the Afar Regional government has yet to give proper answers to these fundamental questions. On equal terms, the federal government has failed in ensuring the safety of its citizens living in and around Somali-Afar border areas.
So, it has become important that the Somali Regional Government Cabinet evaluates the socio-economic as well as the security conditions of the people living in Afdem, Gablalu and Ma’eyso Woredas in addition to appraising the implementation, or the lack there of, of the binding agreement between the two regions. After a long discussion, the SRS cabinet has unanimously adopted the following resolutions:
- The Somali Regional State (SRS) is fully committed to the principle of constitutionalism and the supremacy of the rule of law. At the same time, the SRS is against everything that is a danger to the constitutional order. In that regard, the regional cabinet has unanimously agreed that the illegal agreement that has transferred the three towns of Garba-Issa, Undufo and Adeytu to the Afar Regional State is an agreement that has no base under the federal constitution while at the same time lacking the will of the same people impacted by the decisions under consideration coupled with a dangerous set of coercion tactics and bad faith as engineered by contrabandists under the cover of Afar Regional state.
- The Afar Regional Government has utterly failed to secure the rights of the Somalis in the areas that that were illegally transferred to its administration, especially the lack of implementation on their side of the bargain under the said agreement as well as their failure to ensure the safety and the well-being of the people under it is rule.
- Effective from today, 25/08/2011 E.C, the Somali Regional Government withdraws from the agreement signed between the two regions’ former administrations regarding the illegal transfer of the said towns that didn’t have any constitutional bases to it in the first place.
- With the help of the federal security organs, the SRS has the obligation to protect the safety and security of it’s people living in the said towns of Garba-Issa, Undufo, and Adeytu. In a similar fashion, the SRS cabinet has determined to ensure that the people living in the said areas get access to basic services.
- In collaboration with the federal government and relevant aid agencies, the regional government should arrange for urgent humanitarian assistance to the people living in the said three towns and their surroundings.
- The Afar Regional Government should immediately release and transfer the Save the Children humanitarian staff as well as members of the youth, women and elders in the area that are illegally under their custody.
- In collaboration with federal justice administration organs, it is paramount that individuals implicated in the killings, injury, looting and the displacements perpetuated on the Somali people living in those areas are brought to justice.
- That the Somali security forces should bolster the security and the stability of border areas without crossing the Somali Administrative border by protecting our people from any type of aggression now and in to future.