The Somali government expressed concerns over the political situation in Baidoa, where two groups are competing to form a regional administration, with one party electing a new president Monday (March 3rd) for a new regional administration called Southwestern State of Somalia.
Two parallel conferences, with one advocating a regional state comprising three regions -- Bay, Bakol and Lower Shabelle -- and the other backing a region state comprising six regions -- Bay, Bakol, Lower Shabelle, Gedo, Lower Jubba and Middle Jubba -- have been meeting in Baidoa this week.
The conference backing a federal state comprising six regions elected former lawmaker Madobe Nunow Mohamed as its president, Somalia's RBC reported. The other conference said it would elect a new president on Thursday.
The group supporting the six regions also threatens to undermine the Interim Jubba Administration (IJA), which already comprises Gedo, Middle Jubba and Lower Jubba regions.
Minister of Interior and Federalism Abdullahi Godah Barre said the federal government should take the lead in forming federal states and called on all parties to "avoid unnecessary conflict that may dislocate our efforts to rebuild this country".
"Many times, the Federal Government of Somalia [FGS] tried to unify the two conferences in Baidoa," Barre said in a statement. "For instance, high ranking government officials and parliamentarians had visited the region to defuse the political deadlock of the two parallel conferences."
"In light of the agreement betwee the FGS and the Interim Jubba Administration last August in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the federal government of Somalia upholds the outcome of that agreement," he said.
"The FGS is ready to lead the process of federalisation, particularly the formation of a federal state by the people in Bay, Bakol and Lower Shabelle regions," Barre said.
Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia Nicholas Kay also urged all parties to exercise restraint as tension heightens in Baidoa.
"I encourage traditional leaders, politicians and stakeholders in Baidoa to commit to serious, inclusive and continued political dialogue guided by respect for the Provisional Federal Constitution and existing agreements," he said. "The UN will continue to support the Federal Government of Somalia's efforts to lead a reconciliation process."
The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has also voiced support for the Addis Ababa agreements.
"AMISOM is more than ready to promote dialogue within its mandate, Somalia's constitution and the Addis Ababa agreement of 28th August 2013, and will work with all stakeholders to resolve the current political differences for positive settlement," African Union Special Representative to Somalia Mahamat Saleh Annadif said in a statement.
Residents reported hearing mortar fire in Baidoa Monday night from unidentified sources, according to Somalia's RBC Radio. No casualties were reported.