Khaatumo Succeeded By Accepting Failure. By Liban Ahmed
In January 2012 when Khatumo movement was established in Taleh district, its primary goal was to declare the 1998 agreement on which Puntland had been created null and void. It was an admission that the genealogy-based political institutions of Puntland outlived their usefulness. Ironically, the same line of reasoning rendered Khatumo still-born. Three successive Khatumo leaders appointed by a council of clan-based representatives, who elected Dr Ali Khalif Galayr a president in Saahdheer hamlet in 2014, had insisted on the legitimacy of Khatumo.
Based in Buuhoodle, Khatumo “administration” is one of the three stakeholders— the other two being Somaliland and Puntland— vying for the control of the district in Togdheer.
When Khatumo leaders realised that there was no way to challenge the authority of Somaliland in Sool and even in Buuhoodle, where the Somaliland Minister for Health, Salebaan Ahmed Isse (Aka Haglatosiye), inaugurated projects funded his ministry, they agreed to unconditional talks with Somaliland.
Khatumo’s popularity waned when sub-clan clashes in Sool forced Somaliland government to intervene and enforce peace. This approach to peace-making is working. Somaliland administration intervened in Taleh conflict between two subclans almost three years ago. Sub-clan hostilities in Sool are not related to resources but political manipulation and perception that a sub-clan is benefiting from the support of a third party.
Traditional leaders in Sool have commended Somaliland government for intervening in intra-clan hostilities in Sool. Only Khatumo President, Dr Galayr, blamed Somaliland for fuelling the intra-clan conflict a few weeks ago after the first round of talks was successfully concluded in Addis Ababa.
The second round of talks between Somaliland government and Khatumo was held in Djibouti. Of the five points agreed to by Khatumo and Somaliland delegates, one is more salient than others: “We call for the international and local NGOs to operate in the areas affected by drought and underdevelopment”.
Underdevelopment has had an impact on areas co-ruled by Khatumo such as Buuhoodle. In Sool districts particularly Las Anod, Somaliland government implemented projects ranging from roads to schools and hospitals. Somaliland Development Fund increased development allocation for Sool from 5 percent in 2015 to 12% in 2016, making education and health projects beneficiaries. Buuhoodle benefited from one KM road financed by Danish Demining Group. If Khatumo leaders succeed to persuade other stakeholders in contested Buuhoodle to allow Somaliland to finance development projects, people will reap dividends from Khatumo’s decision to abandon fruitless and unfounded claim that it represents people who lost confidence in Puntland in 2012.
Since 2014 Khatumo has been facing setbacks. It was forging ahead with Diaspora contributions. When the outgoing Somali Prime Minister, Omar Abdirashid A. Sharmarke, signed an agreement with Puntland President last year, Puntland was given the privilege to endorse the five MPs Khatumo had the privilege to select in 2012 when the MPs from Sool were split into 3 for Puntland and five for Khatumo. As the map below shows the territory Khatumo claims to represent is described as a “disputed territory”. This geographic status is the source of underdevelopment.
In a statement by Khatumo president in Djibouti he made a threat to Puntland blamed by agreement signatories “for not allowing Khatumo president and his delegation to board a plane bound for Djibouti” to attend talks last week. His inflammatory remarks will make the situation in Buuhoodle tense following clashes between two subclans whose militias were persuaded to agree to a shaky cease-fire.
How long Khatumo’s remaining block will remain united is anybody’s guess. Khatumo Interior Minister, Keyse Abdi Yusuf, is known as a turncoat politician. He was a commander of Sool, Sanaag and Ceyn (SSC) militias before the group made a deal with Somaliland in 2011. He defected to Khatumo and was appointed a minister in 2014. Khatumo leaders have not been able to bridge the gap between the expectation of its Diaspora supporters and the reality in territories Khatumo leaders think they are entitled to represent. By accepting the failure of Khatumo project, Dr Galayr and his group have succeeded. “Exploitation of clan sentiment has backfired” he said in Djibouti.