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Hiiraan leaders warn deployment of troops in Beletweyne a ‘recipe for armed confrontation’

Political leaders, clan representatives and civil society groups from Hiiraan region have warned that the recent deployment of troops to the city could lead to violent confrontations noting they will hold the Somali National Army leadership accountable for any deaths as a result of the violence.

In a letter to Prime Minister Mohamed Roble and copied to the international community, the leaders from the Hawadle clan warned that the presence of troops in Beletweyne town is meant to help rig the Lower House elections for outgoing president Mohamed Farmaajo. Out of the 38 seats for HirShabelle, 25 will be picked in Beletweyne.

“We believe the deployment of the national armed forces is an act of provocation and a recipe for armed confrontation that will only lead to displacement of people and further insecurity, at a time when more than two million of the Somali population is on the brink of starvation and more than half is facing food insecurity,” the letter read in part.

The forum which brought together serving and former MPs, former HirShabelle presidents Hawadle diaspora community and civil society groups said it was ‘deeply’ concerned by the deployment noting the prevailing situation in Beletweyne was a political one and can only be addressed through dialogue and reconciliation but not military means.


The leaders added that the deployment of the Haram’ad and Gorgor units, both trained by Turkey also violated recent political agreements by the National Consultative Council chaired by PM Roble which barred the military from political engagements.

Of further concern, the leaders said, the deployed troops don’t fall within the command-and-control structure of the military and do not report to the line ministers of security and defence as alleged by HirShabelle Vice President Yusuf Dabageed in a media interview last week.

“This is alarming within the context of the recent public statement by the vice president of HirShabelle state “that all MP seats in Beletwein will only be ‘won’ by candidates of their choosing, and that clans will not have any role.”

“We believe that the deployment of troops in Beletwein and the public pronouncement by the HirShabele vice president to rig the election is not merely a coincidence but an orchestrated plan by the defacto president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo to influence the election outcome,” the leaders said.

They also warned of legal action against SNA land forced commander Brigadier general Mohamed Tahlil Bihi who led the deployment noting that as a UK citizen, Bihi will be prosecuted under the ‘Overseas operations bill enacted by the UK parliament in 2021.’

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