Hiiraan stakeholders have begun meetings in Beledweyne to form a “standalone” authority as it continues to protest the Somali government’s efforts to combine the Hiiraan and Middle Shabelle regions into one administration as part of the federalism process.
Xawaadle sub-clan elders in particular have repeatedly rejected requests to attend the meetings in Jowhar because they dispute how it is being managed and how communities will share power. Since March, various clans — not just the Xawaadle — have jumped in and out of the process.
But most notably, in late June, supporters of Xawaadle leader Ugaas Xasan Ugaas Khaliif staged protests after the Somali government excluded him from the initial list of 135 elders responsible for selecting the electoral college in upcoming elections. But after the most recent National Leadership Forum (NLF) in Mogadishu, he was added to that list, according to the meeting communique.
While former breakaway administrations have not fared well in Somalia’s federalism process, they have often served as an effective platform from which stakeholders can negotiate some of their political objectives when efforts to do so in official forums fail. This is ostensibly the goal of some communities in Hiiraan.
From Federalism Minister to Protester: Federalism’s Full Circle
The winner of the Most Ironic Attendee award at the Beledweyne meeting went to Abdullahi Goodax Barre, who served as the Minister of Federalism for ex-Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed just eighteen months ago. In that role, he was responsible for trying to keep stakeholders within the bounds of Somalia’s often controversial state formation processes.
However, in an ironic twist, Goodax found himself participating in a conference held in direct protest of the official forum taking place in Jowhar at the same time. It raises the question: What would Minister Goodax say to Protester Goodax?
The international community has urged completion of the the Hiiraan-Middle Shabelle process so that upcoming elections would not be further complicated. However, it seems that things are moving in the opposite direction.