Somalia’s Jubbaland president wins new term amid rift with central government

Ahmed Mohamed Islam better known as “Ahmed Madobe,” after his reelection as President of Jubbaland. (AFP)
Updated 22 August 2019
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Somalia’s Jubbaland president wins new term amid rift with central government

  • Madobe won 56 of the 74 votes cast in the regional parliament

GAROWE, Somalia: The president of Jubbaland, a Somali region critical to East Africa’s fight against Al-Shabab militants, won a new term on Thursday, amid a growing rift between the federal government and its semi-autonomous states.
The contest has stoked tensions between Kenya and Ethiopia, longtime allies who both have large contingents of peacekeepers in the country and see Jubbaland as a buffer zone against Islamist attacks in their own countries.
Kenya supports the victor, Ahmed Mohamed Madobe, while Ethiopia has grown increasingly close to the federal government in Mogadishu.
Madobe won 56 of the 74 votes cast in the regional parliament, parliamentary speaker Cabdi Maxamed Abdirahmaan said.
“I am ready to sit and speak with all people, including the opposition. I will speak and work with anyone who has a complaint,” Madobe told parliament after the vote.
There was no immediate reaction from the central government.
Mogadishu said on Saturday it would not recognize the result, saying the candidate selection process had been unconstitutional.
It has accused Madobe of interfering in the process and has backed opposition candidates, who were rejected by the electoral commission when they attempted to register.
Jubbaland is seen as the breadbasket of Somalia and the capital Kismayo is a strategically important port. Its shoreline delineates a hotly contested maritime zone claimed by both Somalia and Kenya with potential oil and gas deposits.
Madobe ousted Shabab from Kismayo in 2012 with the help of Kenyan forces, took power and was first elected in 2015.
Hundreds of people gathered in the streets of the capital Kismayo after the result was announced, chanting “long live Ahmed Madobe” and waving his picture.
The barred opposition candidates said they held their own vote in Kismayo on Thursday, electing Abdirashid Mohamed Hidig.
The impact of the parallel vote was not clear.
Jubbaland is the third of the country’s seven semi-autonomous regions to hold presidential elections before next year’s national vote.
And while analysts say that President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo must exert greater control over Jubbaland and the other regions ahead of a next year’s national vote, they also expect the federal government to grudgingly accept Thursday’s result, despite earlier fears that the contest could spark violence.
“They will have to live with (Madobe),” said Hussein Sheikh-Ali, a former national security adviser and founder of the Mogadishu-based think tank Hiraal Institute.
Shabab controls swathes of territory and towns in Jubbaland and analysts say it may exploit the spat over the election.
The militants, who want to overthrow the Somali government, have killed hundreds of civilians across East Africa and thousands of Somalis in a decade-long insurgency.
Somalia has been trying to claw its way out of the embers of the civil war that engulfed it in 1991, when clan warlords overthrew a dictator and then turned on each other.


Migrant workers still exploited in World Cup host Qatar: Amnesty

Updated 19 September 2019

Migrant workers still exploited in World Cup host Qatar: Amnesty

PARIS: Qatar is not fulfilling all its promises to improve the conditions of migrant workers in the country in the run-up to the 2022 World Cup, Amnesty International said Thursday.
In a report entitled "All Work, No Pay", the rights group said: "Despite the significant promises of reform which Qatar has made ahead of the 2022 World Cup, it remains a playground for unscrupulous employers."
The report came as French President Emmanuel Macron and Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani were due to meet in Paris on Thursday.
Sheikh Tamim also attended Wednesday's high-profile clash between Paris Saint-Germain -- owned by Qatar's state-owned investment fund -- and Real Madrid.
Doha has made efforts since being named World Cup hosts to improve the conditions of the migrant workers who make up a majority of the Gulf emirate's population.
In November 2017, a temporary $200 monthly minimum wage was introduced for most categories of workers with a permanent level expected to be set before the end of the year.
Exit visas granted at the discretion of employers, required by some workers to leave the country, should be entirely scrapped by the end of 2019 according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).
But Amnesty reported challenges faced by hundreds of workers at three construction and cleaning companies in Qatar who went unpaid for months.
"Migrant workers often go to Qatar in the hope of giving their families a better life; instead many people return home penniless after spending months chasing their wages, with too little help from the systems that are supposed to protect them," said Stephen Cockburn, Amnesty's deputy director of global issues.
After coming under fire over the treatment of migrant workers, Qatar agreed with the ILO in 2017 to undertake labour reforms, including establishing new dispute resolution committees.
"We are urging the Qatari authorities to fully deliver what has been promised and end the shameful reality of labour exploitation," Cockburn said.
Amnesty cited the case of a Kenyan employee of United Cleaning who said he had to rummage for food in garbage bins after receiving no salary for five months.
The man said he had worked for two years and five months for the company without taking any holidays and was owed "a lot of money".
The companies all cited financial difficulties for the non-payment of wages, according to the report.
A Qatar government spokesman said the country had "made substantial progress on labour reforms".
"We continue to work with NGOs, including the ILO, to ensure that these reforms are far-reaching and effective," he said in a statement.
"Any issues or delays with our systems will be addressed comprehensively. We have said, from the outset that this would take time, resources and commitment."