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Somalia's Khatumo state consists of Sool, Sanaag and Ayn (SSC) located between the semi-autonomous region of Puntland and the breakaway state of Somaliland. Its aim is to create an independent administration in the northern region of Somalia. Unlike Somaliland, it does not seek complete autonomy and is willing to unite with the rest of Somalia under a federal government structure and still flies the Somali flag.
Sool and Sanaag regions have been highly disputed by both parties and have been exposed to numerous clashes between Puntland and Somaliland. SSC is the product of the efforts of residents of Sool, Sanaag and Ayn regions who sought to create their own administration. They are largely members of the Dulbahante sub-clan of the Harti (Darod) who dominate these regions.
Efforts to set up this independent administration, beginning in 2007, have been ongoing and eventually resulted in a cornerstone meeting in Taleh in December of last year where Khatumo was officially declared. In January, a second conference was held in Taleh where prominent politicians, traditional leaders and more residents debated the issue. On January 12, 2012, the state of Khatumo was finalized after involved parties agreed that an independent administration would allow for development and stability of the regions.
In their own words
To learn more, Somalia Report interviewed Khatumo officials, including President Abdinour Elmi Qaaje (Biindhe) and Garaad Jama Garaad, a traditional leader of the Dhulbahante clan.
They explained that the name 'Khatumo' is derived from the Arabic word which implies a ‘positive conclusion.’ Officials stated that their objective is to end or eliminate the problems of the region with their own administration and leadership.
The officials explained the borders of their new state to our correspondent. The western border is Labida, 20km from Buro. The northern border is Jiidale, a small village in Erigavo area. To the east lies Yooada which is near Garowe and on the west is Buhoodle in Ayn region which shares a border with Ethiopia.
Despite their claim over these boundaries, the new administration is only established in Ayn region, and some areas in Sool while Somaliland still controls Las-Anod city which is the capital of Sool. Khatumo officials hope to replace the Somaliland and Puntland troops from all the regions as they prepare independent forces and security to take control of their areas.
Sool region which includes Xudun, Bocame and Las Anod districts. Ayn region has Buhoodle, Horufadhi and Widhwidh districts while Sanaag region consists of Erigavo District, Fuqi-Fuliye and Awrbogeys districts.
These districts are not what was originally set up by the Somali Central Government in the 1990s but Khatumo officials insist that they were identified and awaiting approval by the concerned officials before the collapse of the Siad Barre regime.
Founders of Khatumo State
Traditional leaders and politicians from the regions worked together to create the new administration after long discussions with the people of Khatumo state who met in Khatumo and abroad among Somalia Diaspora. Khatumo 1 and 2 conferences were the final meetings, which culminated into the declaration and creation of Khatumo.
Somalia’s former Prime Minister Ali Khalif Galaydh, of the Dhulbahante clan played a key role in the creation of Khatumo. He attended a series of meetings until the final Taleh conference. Galaydh is not part of the administration, but is lobbying for the support of the new administration. He was involved in the process which granted Khatumo a mandate from the TFG. Galaydh was part of the administration of President Abdiqasim Salad Hassan in 2000.
Among the elders and traditional leaders, Garaad Jama Garaad is an influential leader who worked hard for the establishment of Khatumo. He played the key role of advising and negotiating with the residents of Khatumo to seek their own leadership and administration.
Structure of Khatumo Administration
The structure of Khatumo state is rather different from other semi-autonomous regions or states as it has three presidents and four councils that are establishing key governing sectors.
Three Presidents of Khatumo
Ahmed Elmi Osman (Karaash)
Mohamed Yusuf Jama (Indhosheel)
Abdinuur Elmi Qaaji (Biindhe)
Supreme council of traditional leaders
Executive council (Known as G10 or Group 10)
Presidential council with three presidents and ministers
Parliament council which is still in progress
In this unique set up, the three leaders will govern for 18 months and in line with a power sharing deal. Most decisions affecting the regions are made after consultation. For a period of six months, each one of them will be a chairman and represent the rest. This post will rotate for 18 months after which parliament will be established and elections announced. The three leaders are members of the Dulbahante which is the largest clan in all the regions.
Khatumo officials believe that the three president set up allows any potential leader to adequately showcase their skills and achieve more for the country through concerted efforts. Currently, President Ahmed Elmi Osman is the chair and official president and on his six month term.
Two of the three presidents are well known in the region and have worked with other administrations as ministers. President Ahmed Eli Osman was formerly the Puntland Minister for Aviation in 2009. President Abdinur Elmi Qaaji was the Minister for sports for former Puntland administration which was led by Adde Musse Hirsi. President Mohamed Yusuf Jama is a member of the Diaspora.
Hussien Saleebaan Haji Ahmed, Minister for International Relations and Diaspora
Mohamed Ducaale Abdi, Minister for Security
Osman Ahmed Jeex, Minister for Finance
Abdikariim Farah Dhaaye, Minister for Development and Natural Resources
Mohamoud Diiriye Abdi Joof, Minister for Social Services
Yasiin Ahmed Sulub, Minister for Interior Affairs
Deputy Ministers of Khatumo State
Hasan Ali Jama, First Deputy Minister for International Relations Farduus Mohamed Mire, Second Deputy Minister for International Relations
Jama Hassan Khaliif, Deputy Minister for Security
Ibraahim Mohamoud Guure, Deputy Minister for Development and Natural Resources
Abdi Farah Mahad, Second Deputy Minister for Development and Natural Resources
Hassan Muse Awl, First Deputy Minister for Interior Affairs
Abshir Abdi Shiekh, Second Deputy Minister for Interior Affairs
Abdifatah Osman Dhala, First Deputy Minister for Social Affairs
Asia Hassan Jama, First Deputy Minister for Social Affairs
Ibrahim Jama Garab-Yare, First Deputy Minister for Finance
Mowliid Mohamud Salah, Second Deputy Minister for Finance
Khatumo Government Officials
Mukhatar Ibraahim Habashi, Chief of Cabinet
Omar Jama Saleebaan, Spokesman for Khatumo State
Security In Khatumo
The administration’s priority is security of the region which was previously disputed with some parts under the enforced control of Somaliland. These areas will have to be regained by force as the administration works on establishing stability in Ayn and Sool regions.
A number of Khatumo officials told Somalia Report that they have prepared troops and are recruiting more since the declaration of the state in January of this year. They were unwilling to provide exact numbers of their soldiers. President Abdinour informed Somalia Report of the existence of military and police forces that operate within their regions. The state administration pays for their salaries without foreign support. President Abdinour expressed his confidence in the security forces who he said are well trained and armed. The members of the forces were previously involved in military operations against Somaliland’s troops.
Khatumo administration has a lot of local support especially among the Dhulbahante clan and others in the region. However, the new state is under siege by Somaliland and Puntland administrations that have always fought for control of the region. The testy issues of resource allocation through the TFG in the form of scholarships, finances and security for the northern regions of Somalia means Puntland now has to compete with Khatumo and is not in a position to manage such aid on behalf of the TFG.
The newly declared state severely lacks infrastructure and this poses a great challenge for the Khatumo administration. Water supply, health facilities, transportation and communication networks do not exist in Khatumo. According to Khatumo officials, only two international aid agencies operate minimally in parts of Khatumo.
Airport - The new state urgently requires an airport to provide an income for the region and officials are looking at ways to implement the plan. Khatumo officials currently use other airports located in neighboring regions for official travel as they plan on the construction of Taleh airport which is currently under construction and near completion, according to the president and officials. The administration currently relies on support from the Diaspora and some taxes from residents of Khatumo for state income.
Seaport - Sool and Ayn regions do not have a coastline. Sanaag region which has a coastline and the Las-Qoray port is largely populated by the Warsangeli clan who are loyal to the Puntland administration. Clan allegiances will make it extremely difficult for the budding Khatumo administration to establish a seaport in this area or make good use of the Las Qoray port.
Interview with the President of Khatumo
In our efforts to learn more about the newly declared semi-autonomous state, Somalia Report interviewed the current chairing President of Khatumo, Abdinour Elmi Qaaje (Biindhe).
Why was the state created?
SSC finally became Khatumo state. The Dhulbahante and other people who live in these regions decided to create their own administration after Somaliland took control of some areas in these regions. Somaliland inclusive of our region was colonized by the British in the past. After independence and the civil war in Somalia, Somaliland sought autonomy and this did not bode well with us. We are not willing to be a breakaway state or separated from the rest of the Somali people. Therefore, they (Somaliland) attacked us and took control of some of our regions. That is the main reason why we created this administration. Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) allows a minimum of more than two regions can become a state. We fit the requirement.
Most people believe that Khatumo is made up of people from only from one clan, the Dhulbahante. Is that true and can you give us information in relation to other clans who are part of your administration?
It is not for one clan only. Four big clans are part of Khatumo and they are the Dhulbahante, Faqashini-Ayr, Abdirahman Harti (Kaskiqabe) and Gabooye clans. All clan members live in Sool, Sanaag and Ayn regions.
Did you receive any mandate from the TFG?
We have officially received a mandate from President Shariff and Prime Minister Abdiweli Gaas. We will be a part of Somalia’s upcoming government. We sent four traditional leaders to Mogadishu and they will take part in the selection of lawmakers. The upcoming Somali government will also receive eight lawmakers from our regions who will take part in the constitution approval process. We have a total of 24 members there.
We have established good relations with western nations. Since our arrival in Nairobi, we have met with a number of embassy representatives including the United States who welcomed us and promised to provide support for us. They will work on providing humanitarian aid directly.
There have been reports of water scarcity in the region. What has caused the shortage and what is your administration doing about that?
We are aware of the poor water supply in our regions right now. Somaliland took control of the largest wells from residents including Sool Jogto, Yagoori, Hagoogle and other wells in Kalshaale area. They have barred our residents who live in these areas from using these wells and when droughts affected these regions, the situation was serious. We are not able to dig new wells right now and would prefer to reclaim our wells from Somaliland. That is our plan. In the meantime, we are appealing to international organizations and governments to provide humanitarian aid and support to us directly.