The battle for Jubbaland presidency Monday afternoon took a whole new twist when Ethiopian and Jubbaland forces backed by Kenyan troops almost clashed at Kismayu Airport in what could be seen as a last ditch attempt by the Federal Government to wrest control of Kismayu through Ethiopian might.
A source at Kismayu airport told Hiiraan Online a military plane belonging to Ethiopian forces was blocked by Jubbaland and Kenyan forces from landing escalating tensions in the southern city ahead of the presidential polls slated for this week.
According to the source, the Ethiopian airplane was forced to turn back but a contingent of Ethiopian troops which was already on the ground pitched camp at the entrance of the airport disrupting operations at the facility. KDF and Jubbaland forces held control of the airport, the source added.
The attempts by the Ethiopian forces which further escalate the political temperatures in Kismayu and brings to the fore the regional fight for Jubbaland comes a week after Jubbaland president Ahmed Madobe turned down a plea for talks by a delegation of senior Ethiopian military and intelligence officials reportedly at the behest of the Federal Government.
Today’s development shifts focus from the local tussle to one fought by Kenya and Ethiopia both which have a 50 year defence cooperation. Nairobi is rooting for the incumbent Ahmed Madobe as Addis which had hitherto presented itself as an arbiter in the region is backing the Federal Government.
The failed entry of the Ethiopian forces into Kismayu today comes barely hours after the Jubbaland Independent Boundaries and Elections Commission (JIBEC) told the UN it would now proceed to conduct the presidential elections despite concerns by the UN office in Mogadishu.
JIBEC chairman Dr. Hamza Barre said the polls body had incorporated all recommendations by the International Community and adhered to the state and Provisional Constitutions and was set to conduct the exercise. Dr. Barre accused UNSOM head James Swan of ‘misrepresentation of views’ and called for an ‘apology to the people of Jubbaland’.