Somalia’s HirShabelle state leader arrives in Beledweyne after mortar attack

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The president of HirShabelle state Ali Gudlawe has on Sunday morning arrived in Beledweyne city, Hiran regional capital on a controversial trip that sparked tension and clashes.

Ever since taking over, Ali Gudlawe has been facing rebellion from senior leaders in HirShabelle, with General Abukar Huud building a “secessionist” movement that wants the town to be recognized as a state within Somalia.

The team accuses Ali Gudlawe of general discrimination and maladministration and has vowed to fight on despite resistance from Jowhar. For months, Ali Gudlawe and his associates have not been able to access the town.

Multiple sources confided to Garowe Online that various groups have been mobilized to make Gudlawe’s trip to the region difficult. This is the first time he’s visiting Beledweyne since he was elected as regional president in 2020.

Last month, his attempts to visit Beledwyene were thwarted after forces loyal to General Abukar Huud resisted the attempts. They vowed to attack his caravan, leading to intervention from the federal government of Somalia.

Mogadishu tried to engage the rebels but no tangible solution was reached, leading to the current state. But in solidarity with Gudlawe, a close ally of outgoing President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, several federal troops were mobilized to Beledweyne.

The rebels accused Mogadishu of deploying a special Haramacad police contingent and Gorgor troops who are trained in Turkey. The decision was subjected to fierce criticism with stakeholders warning that it could sabotage ongoing talks.

Currently, the state is rushing to beat the February 25 deadline on the election of Lower House members, but the tensions could further derail the exercise. Hirshabelle is one of the friendly states to the authorities in Mogadishu.