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Somali gov't says Kismayo convention "unconstitutional"

Saturday, March 2, 2013

MOGADISHU, March 2 (Xinhua) -- Somali government has opposed gathering of local political forces in the southern port city of Kismayo aimed at forming an administration for the region which was retaken from the rebel group of Al-Shabaab last year.

In a statement late Friday the Somali Prime Minister Office expressed regret at the Kismayo meeting which it described as "unconstitutional" and "unilateral".

"This unilateral act, carried out without reference to the federal government, violates the constitution and is an obstacle to peaceful political development. It neither serves the best interest of the local communities in the area nor that of the new Somali state," Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon in a statement.

Last year allied Kenya contingent of the African Union peacekeeping Mission (AMISOM) and Somali government forces as well as local clan militias ousted the militant Islamist Al-Shabaab fighters from the border regions Middle and Lower Juba provinces.

Local leaders in Kisamyo said that it was their constitutional right to form an administration to be called Jubaland for the three provinces along the Kenya-Somalia border but the Somali government object to it, saying: "The government's constitutional mandate is to establish a federal state as the end goal."

The Somali Prime Minister said that the move by local leaders to form an administration for the region would "jeopardize the efforts of reconciliation, peace building and state-building, create tribal divisions and also undermines the fight against extremists in the region."

"This nation-building process is already underway. We have started this approach to establish local administrations, the foundation stones of a federal state, in newly recovered areas such as Bay and Hiiraan and we expect the same will apply to Jubaland. As stated in the past, the government will only be a facilitator," said the statement from the Prime Minister's office.

The Somali government said any attempt at forming an administration should "only takes place within – and not outside - the constitutional framework" adding that it "won't accept anything less".

Somali government has overseen formation of local administrations in areas retaken from the radical group of Al- Shabaab such as the central towns of Baidoa and Beledweyn and says it expected "to do the same in Kismayo as we move towards a federal state".

Somali Prime Minister Shirdon said his government remained committed to engage in talks with all Somali and international stakeholders, including African Union, UN and IGAD, the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development.


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