The clashes in Galkayo between Puntland and Galmudug forces have brought back questions about the indispensability of bringing the district under one administration. At Adaado, Galmudug President Abdikarim Guled said his administration would like to see Galkayo under one administration to bring to an end the status of the “only Somali district” jointly ruled by two federal states.
Dual adminstration status of Galkayo dates back to 1993 when General Mohamed Farah Aideed and Colonel Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed ( both deceased ) signed an agreement in Mogadishu. When Puntland was formed in 1998, the new administration opted to operate in North Galkayo, with South Galkayo being under a now defunct United Somali Congress until 2006, the year Galmudug adminstration, then consisting of South Galka’yo and Hobyo district, had been formed.
Clashes between forces loyal to Puntland and Galmudug Federal States were not as common as they have become since Guled was elected President of Galmudug State in 2015 to work in Adaado, the interim administrative capital of Galmudug State comprising, in theory, South Galka’yo, two districts of Mudug and Galguduud region.
Initially, Puntland opposed the recognition of of Galmudug as a federal state under the pretext that it did not meet the requirement to consist of two or more regions to qualify as a federal state. Galmudug was one of the administrations that, along with Puntland, phased out the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia to pave the way for the current Somali Federal Government .
Although pre-2015 Galmudug controlled fewer districts, it was not as embroiled in political crises as the new Galmudug State is. Forces of the new Galmudug State under Guled clashed with Al-shabaab militias and Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama’a paramilitary forces in Dhusomareb. The latter does not recognise Galmudug as a federal state. Those clashes had had impact on Galmudug’s ability to properly control South Galka’yo, where the former Galmudug President, General Abdiqaybdid, was almost assassinated by a suicide bomber.
It was disingenuous of Puntland to blame Galmudug for being in cahoots with Al-shabaab following clashes in Galkayo in October just as it was inappropriate for former Galmudug leaders and a traditional leader in Mogadishu to blame Puntland for supporting a US attack that “killed Galmudug soldiers.”
The ceasefire fire signed by traditional leaders of South and North Galka’yo on Sunday signals commitment on the part of Galmudug and Puntland States to peace in an administratively divided district.
Is it possible to bring Galkayo under one administration? Galmudug State leadership believes Galkayo security problems would be under control should Puntland leaders agree to the idea of entrusting the district management with one administration. Firstly, for the idea to work people in South and North Galkayo must transcend linking loyalty to an administration with clan identity. Not long ago, before the collapse of the state in 1991, people of Galkayo lived under one administration centrally appointed in Mogadishu. The second prerequisite is to explore areas of past cooperation in the institutional history of the two administrations .
Since North Galkayo benefited, in commercial terms, hugely from the 1993 peace agreement, has Puntland ever earmarked budget for South Galkayo to deliver social services or fund local schools? In a stage of recovery from a civil war, a region doing comparatively well after a conflict has an obligation to support struggling neighbouring districts. Such an assistance will not only help Galmudug State deliver more services for people in South Galkayo but it would also strengthen ties of citizenship undermined by the civil war. There is more to coexisting peacefully in the same territory after civil war than honouring peace agreements.
Hypothetically, if Galmudug agreed to Puntland running Galkayo as a whole, people in South Galkayo will have same rights as people in any part of Puntland. Puntland’s wide experience of running an autonomous administration will stand it in good stead despite falling short of making people of South Galkayo feel belong to Puntland on the basis of Somali citizenship. Under such an arrangement Galmudug should not lose its federal state status.
If Puntland agreed to Galmudug State becoming the sole administration in Galkayo, Guled would be on the horns of dilemma about working in Adaado, the interim administrative capital, or relocating to Galmudug’s birthplace. Hybrid administrative mechanisms based on running the district on rota basis could be explored.
Before all those options are studied in depth, it would be wise to share with the public information about what causes clashes that affect the whole district, how the two administrations in North and South Galkayo share information about security and how each district administration responds to security problems perceived to be emanating from either South or North Galkayo.