Kenya’s real stake in Jubaland

There upwards of Sh3 billion split between KDF, Jubaland and Shabaab annually

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By Fuad Abdirahman

In May 2013, through a sham election where voting was conducted by show of hands, Ahmed Mohamed Islam, aka Sheikh Madobe was declared winner; he was unopposed, the other candidates having pulled out of the race days and hours before it was held – reportedly intimidated by the powerful Ras Kamboni militia group loyal to Madobe, and with blessing of ‘friendly’ foreign nations.

When he joined the Ras Kamboni Movement, he quickly rose to become a high ranking member of the group, on account of his cosy relationship with Hassan Turki, a powerful military leader in the Islamic Courts Union and his brother-in-law; during that time Madobe served as governor in the region, before he and Turki fell out.

Madobe, at the tail end of his second term as president, is seeking a third. And with the backing of external benefactors, including the Kenyan government and thousands of loyal militia now disguised as Jubaland’s security forces, he is poised to retain his seat. 

Reportedly, former Defence minister of Kenya Yussuf Haji, working with other politicians from northern Kenya are actively working on his re-election. In late 2018, Haji travelled to Mogadishu to meet with Somalia president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, aka Farmaajo, to request his support for the re-election of Madobe; Farmaajo reportedly turned him down.

Jubaland is supposed to hold its election this month even as there have been failed attempts to postpone the exercise – the other candidates, including Abdullahi Ciilmooge Hirsi, a former Somalia Information minister and Madobe critic, and Sheikh Dahir, a former close ally and a relative, are said to be unable to conduct campaigns out of fear for their lives. 

Kenya is reportedly covertly supporting for his re-election in a not-so-subtle strategy to continue to partake of the multimillion-dollar charcoal and sugar smuggling business.

The UN, two years ago, published a damning report that detailed the involvement of Kenya military brass in the dirty business under the cover of its military operation in Somalia. The trade is also a major source of Al-Shabaab funding. According to the UN, Jubaland’s annual export volumes stand at over 1 million bags of sugar. The proceeds, in excess of Sh3 billion, is divided between Al-Shabaab, KDF and the Jubaland administration. (

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