On a routine outreach trip to conflict-prone areas outside Galkacyo town, facilitated by Joint Galkacyo and South Mudug peacebuilding initiative that was implemented by Centre for Peace and Democracy (CPD), with the support of the Somalia Stability Fund, the Governor of Galmudug State’s Mudug region helps arrest four suspected killers in Lanwaley settlement and transfers them to Galkacyo South police station.  Accompanied by several elders drawn from the Joint Peace Committee and a host of police officers, the Governor’s swift action stops what would have been another round of bloodbath and revenge killings.

Abdiaziz Ahmed Bulhan, the Governor’s administrative secretary says that this was unprecedented and such actions would previously be met with resistance by local elders. The arrested suspects hailed from the local community residing in the area and had reportedly killed a man from the neighboring clansman. The two neighboring sub-clans were involved in protracted conflicts and revenge killings which have jeopardized efforts to reconcile them before.

“It is worth mentioning that locals helped us in the search and arrest of the culprits unlike before where they would hide their kinsmen who caused trouble” said Bulhan.

Mudug Governor Abdirahman Ishal in a meeting with community members in Lanwaley settlement.

The administration official credits this success to the increasing government-community engagement and collaboration as well as the benefits of working with the police and community on peace and security.

The road to finding lasting peace to the conflict in Galkacyo and Mudug region at large is at long last gaining momentum. After the joint efforts of key community segments – such as the youth, elders, women, local administrations and security organs led by the police – there is more cohesion and integration in the administratively divided city. Galkacyo South is under the jurisdiction of Galmudug State while the North falls under Puntland.

With the help of the Peace initiatives implemented in the area by CPD with the support of SSF, elders and local administrations from both the Galmudug and Puntland sides have embarked on efforts to find a lasting peace by addressing key fault-lines and the aggravating factors. 

Through reconciliation forums and conferences, peace caravans, outreach activities and peacebuilding activities, the project has created synergy and constant interaction between key actors such the youth, women, elders and the government and has  helped reduce hostilities between the North and South of Galkacyo. 

“Activities are organized jointly and sometimes held in rotation in both the South and North of Galkacyo. This has enhanced social cohesion and integration. Security is provided by the police on either side and this further gives us the guarantee that we are in safe hands while on the other side. We can always build on this momentum and as the youth, we are ready to work with our communities and government to restore the lost glory of Galkacyo”

Sadiq Mahdi Osman, a journalist from Galkacyo North after attending a media ethics training in Galkacyo South on February 29, 2020.

Administrations on both sides of Galkacyo, both at the district and regional levels collaborate on security matters.  With the help of the local police and the joint forces, criminals are now arrested and taken to police stations on either side and later cases are resolved through the court system or elders. The collaboration between the elders and the administration has seen a reduction in criminal activities within the city and in the outskirts.

We now have the powers and legitimacy to make arrests, through our collaboration with the elders, communities have now accepted to give us our role of maintaining law and order. They even report criminal activities to the stations. The culture of people taking the law into their own hands will slowly die if we build on this momentum”  Ali Nassir, a member of the joint police force.

Ali Nassir’s team provides escort to the elders, other community members and administration officials during project activities such as peace conferences and outreach activities. 

The project has invested heavily in early warning and preventive measures through community-government collaboration after key stakeholders identified that periodical disputes between the rural populations was the origin and basis of insecurity and instability in the region which had spill-over effects on Galkacyo city.

It is for this reason the elders largely drawn from the Joint Peace Committee now ensure conflicts are mitigated and runway incidents are mediated at early stages before blowing out of proportion. This helps peace and good neighborliness to prevail in the rural areas.

The project has clustered conflict zones and categorized the Eastern and Western parts of Mudug regions to address the Towfiq/Afbarwaqo and Saxo/Lanwaley conflict axis respectively. Peace conferences were held in Balibusle in February 2020 and in Bandiiradley and Galdogob in June and early July 2020 to focus on the respective conflict axis.

The peace and reconciliation forums and conferences gave birth to resolutions by respective elders detailing tough measures to address conflict and killings as per the Islamic Shariah.

Habib Hersi Barre is a prominent community elder and member of the Joint Peace Committee from the Puntland side. Habib Hersi Barre acknowledges the project’s contribution to the efforts to restore peaceful coexistence in the region.

Nabaddoon Habib Hersi Barre

The project has helped us initiate reconciliation efforts and hold peace conferences bringing together warring clans and those with unresolved blood vendetta where amicable solutions have been reached. Agreements to end conflicts or stop future conflicts have been signed by both sides and as elders we have achieved a lot which would not have been possible without this support. We remain indebted and would continue with these efforts until we see our people live in peace” Nabaddoon Hersi.

This article first appeared on SSF’s website