By Liban Ahmad
SOMALILANDSUN- Kismayo is city which, like Mogadishu, has had its cosmopolitan culture snuffed out after 1991 when clan wars engulfed southern Somalia. The city is where people fleeing 1991 Mogadishu war between the former military regime forces and United Somali Congress militias chose to live. In 1990s Kismayo changed hands several times between United Somali Congress (USC) and Somali Patriotic Movement (SPM) which was once ally of USC in the fight against the former military dictatorship. In 1992 Colonel Ahmed Omar Jees, a leader of an SPM wing and ally for the late general Aideed, allegedly ordered the execution of many innocent civilians who belonged to sub-clans viewed by Ahmed Omar Jees as rival sub-clans vying for control of Kismayo . In 1993 an SPM wing led by general Mohamed Said Hersi (aka Morgan) captured Kismayo and ruled until summer 1999 when a Jubba Valley Alliance led by the troika- Barre Hiiraale, Mohamed Goobaale and the late Yusuf Mire Seeraar- captured the Kismayo. In 2006 the the Union of Islamic Courts forces captured Kismayo and ruled it for six months before the Union of Islamic Courts forces retreated into the countryside before Ethiopian forces entered the city in January 2007. Al Shabab , a group designated as terrorism organisation,recaptured the city in 2009.
The murder of the British tourist David Tebbutt and the kidnapping of his wife, Judith Tebbut in a Kenyan tourist resort last year left no one in doubt that Al Shabab condoned kidnappings as Judith Tebbut was transported through Al Shabab-controlled areas to south central Somalia. Al Shabab’s defeat in kismayo was foreseeable after its forces faced pressure in districts south of Kismayo: the group was denied the freedom to roam Afmadow and districts near Somali-Kenyan border. Like previous groups that ruled the city Al Shabab understood the economic significance of the port town , and followed in the footsteps and Jubba Valley Alliance warlords to export charcoal to the Gulf countries to finance its militias.
Addressing the Kismayo problems needs the determination to avoid the temptation to be selective about the city’s problems. Forming an inclusive administration is impossible without addressing human rights violations. President Hassan wants the soon-to-be-formed government of Somalia to form an administration for the city. It is a good intention that can easily be exploited by warlords who committed human rights violations given the president’s pro-immunity stance for warlord MPs. Respecting the rights of Somalis in the city ought to be a guiding principle. Many people have built illegal houses in the city. They should be told that houses built illegally after 1991 will be demolished, and houses illegally occupied will be returned to rightful owners. Many people criticising the role of Kenya now were happy to see Kenya exert pressure on Al Shabab in the Lower Jubba region. Only when Kismayo was taken over by Somali forces with help from Kenya Defence Forces had a loud tribal agitation begun in Mogadishu. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has the experience to avoid being placed in the shoes of former leaders of USC-installed interim administration in Mogadishu back in 1991. They are leaders remembered for killing the idea of citizenship in Somalia. Somali authorities should place the rights of Somali citizens at the heart of efforts to solve Kismayo problems.