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Mediation Planned for Clan Fighting in Rako
Somalia Report Interviews Rako Governor Farah Mohamud Ibrahim
Clan Fighting in Rako
Clan Fighting in Rako
Clan fighting over water and land rights has been plaguing Rako district in the Kakaar region of Somalia's semi-autonomous state of Puntland. To remedy this, a meeting between the two sub clans of Majeerten (Ali Saleban and Ugar Saleban), mediated by local elders and Puntland officials, is planned for March 15th. To understand the process, Somalia Report interviewed Farah Mohamud Ibrahim, the governor of Rako district.

In October 2011, the fighting killed 60 people and injured hundreds of others in a remote area (known as Uur-Jire near Rako district). Shortly thereafter, Puntland officials, headed by Interior Minister Abdullahi Ahmed Jama (Ilka Jir), traveled to the tribal hotbed area to mediate. He successfully brokered a cease fire agreement and both sides agreed to disarm. Only one month later, fighting again broke out with pirates joining the battle based along clan lines. Since then mediations have been ongoing with March 15th being set as the final meeting.

Thank you for giving an interview to Somalia Report. You are the governor of Rako district which is near the tribal hotbed area. Can you briefly tell us about the situation?

You are welcome. The situation of the area is calm now after months of fighting, and preparations for the final mediation meeting are ongoing. Both clans agreed and adhered to the cease fire. We will discuss all this at the March 15th meeting.

Are the clans pleased with the mediation process?

Yes, both of them sent their elders. This phase will be face-to-face mediation. While the two clans are ready to resolve their dispute peacefully, the final result may not always be exactly what all sides want. We hope all sides will be happy with the result.

Traditional elders are the mediators of Somali conflicts so, in this case, Puntland elders will be the mediators. Businessmen and Puntland official will attend the meetings and Puntland security forces will control the area during the meetings.

We found that pirates were among the fighting militias. Can you discuss that?

Yes, they joined the fighting between the sub clans. The Somali people believe in tribalism which is why each pirate joined his tribe to fight during the clashes. Isse Yuluh, a well-known pirate and his group fought with his clan, the Ali-Saleban, while Badugaye, another pirate, fought for the Ugaar Saleban. Although they were involved, they are not invited to the mediation meeting. They are gangs and criminals, so why would we invite criminals who fueled the conflict that killed civilians? In fact Puntland troops came to Rako to arrest the pirates.

We heard that Puntland sent more troops to Rako district. If this is true, why did they do that?

Yes, Puntland sent troops to Rako to ensure the security of the mediation area. They arrived in Rako at the end of the last year and then left. They are coming back on March 14th, a day before the conference begins.

What is the biggest dispute between the two sub clans, and how do you as a mediators deal with them?

The biggest dispute between the both sides is that they lost men in battle. We are trying to persuade both sides to accept peace because it is very important, not only one side but for everyone. We will see if they agreed to execute the killer or to exchange something, like camels, for compensation.

Did the representatives of both warring sides arrive in the mediation area?

Not yet, but still we are waiting. Both sides agreed to attend, and we surely believe that they will arrive soon. We are also waiting for Puntland officials to arrive. The meeting will be open to anyone who wants to attend.

Are both sub-clans armed? Can this be successful?

No, we disarmed both clans last year, and since then there hasn't been any fighting. We appreciate that both sides respect our mediation. Yes, we believe this will be successful and the last meeting.

What is your view of the Africa Oil drilling in Puntland?

I am proud of it. People know we need development so I'm very pleased with this.

Thank you very much, governor.

You are welcome.