Clan elders demanding new federal state meet Somali President

Somali PM Hamza Abdi Barre and SSC Khatumo Committee chair Abdulkadir Ahmed

Somali Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre (left) welcomes Abdulkadir Ahmed Aw-Ali, the executive chairman of the SSC Khatumo on October 7, 2023.

Photo credit: Courtesy

What you need to know:

  • On August 25, the SSC Khatumo militants overran camps manned by Somaliland forces.
  • A movement led by a council of elders known as Garaads had elected the executive committee chaired by Aw-Ali on August 5.

Clan elders who have been agitating for the creation of a new federal state in Somalia have met with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, signaling intent to end continual violence in the Sool region over autonomy.

President Mohamud received Abdulkadir Ahmed Aw-Ali alias Firdhiye, the executive chairman of the committee for Sool, Sanaag and Cayn regions collectively known as SSC Khatumo.

SSC Khatumo governs the northern region that rebelled against the breakaway Somaliland, leading to an eruption of violence since November last year.

The meeting held on Sunday at Villa Somalia in Mogadishu didn’t signal that the federal government had agreed to the clan’s demands. But it could give the clans a basis with which to continue agitating for autonomy. Somalia currently has five federal states: Puntland, Hirshabelle, South West, Galmudug and Jubbaland. Somaliland considers itself independent even though it has never received recognition internationally, despite declaring such independence in May 1991.

On August 25, the SSC Khatumo militants overran camps manned by Somaliland forces. A movement led by a council of elders known as Garaads had elected the executive committee chaired by Aw-Ali on August 5. This is the first time high-powered members of the ruling committee travelled outside Las Anod, the capital of Sool region that saw 7 months of a bitter war between Somaliland forces and militias loyal to SSC Khatumo.

Aw-Ali and his delegation arrived in the Somali capital Mogadishu and were welcomed by Somalia’s Minister for Interior affairs, Federalisation and Reconciliation Ahmed Moalim Fiqi, cabinet members, and members of Somalia’s bicameral Parliament.

Cheers erupted when Aw-Ali emerged from the plane that took him and his delegation from Las Anod town to Mogadishu’s Aden Abdulle International Airport, waving the blue-color Somali flag. Crowds of sympathizers filled every space of the seafront airport, singing and dancing to the tune of patriotic rhythm.

On Saturday, Aw-Ali was received by Somali Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre at his office in Mogadishu.

“The Somali government stands for the unity and coexistence of the Somali people,” PM Barre told the delegation led by SSC Khatumo’s executive chairman.

Barre added, “We want all differences sorted out by peaceful means.”

Meanwhile, Somaliland still claims to control the whole of the area that is also partially claimed by Puntland. SSC Khatumo had initially demanded direct administration from Mogadishu before the formation of their state.

Faysal Ali Warabe, the chairman of the opposition UCID political party, told the BBC Somali Service on Sunday that they (Somaliland) will restore Las Anod town into Somaliland control, dismissing that Sool region will split from the breakaway Somaliland.

“We will restore Las Anod into Somaliland control as soon as possible,” Warabe said.

“We shall restore the order as it was before (Somaliland forces abandoned the rebellious town),” remarking that they will deal with strange people occupying the region.

When the British Somaliland Protectorate gained independence on June 26, 1960, it united, just five days later, with Italian Somaliland on 1st of July 1960. It was one of the great events that marked 1960 as “the Great Year of Africa” which saw seventeen African nations gaining independence.

Ever since violence erupted in and around Las Anod town, about 1000 km northwest of Mogadishu, Somaliland has been reiterating that the war was complicated by forces from Puntland, one of the federal member states of Somalia's neighbouring Somaliland, and militants linked to the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Shabaab, facts repeatedly denied by SSC Khatumo loyalists.