Somali Civil War


Overview

The Somali conflict is a multifaceted dispute triggered by the fall of President Said Barre regime on 27 January 1991. General Barre’s dictatorship was synonymous with extreme brutality, suppression of opposition groups, both nationalistic and Islamic, and exacerbation of interclan rivalries (clannism).  By 1988, the dissatisfaction with the government led to nationalist groups throughout the country, with Northern Somalia (modern-day Somaliland) leading the charge, to attack government and military posts, prompting the First Somali Civil war (1988-1991).     

The fall of Said Barre’s regime and the Somali Civil War created a power vacuum in which nationalist and Islamic groups, warlords, clan and sub-clan militias and other actors aimed to carve out swathes of territory for their own governance. Subsequently, regional and international institutions initiated various peace and reconciliation processes in an attempt to create a stable and robust federal government, with various degrees of success. The inter clan rivalries have fuelled the tension between the Federal government and the regional states, making the consensus and state-building, as well as peacebuilding, process strenuous. The chaos resulted in the declaration of independence by Somaliland in 1991, though still not recognised by any nation in the world, and Somalia maintains its authority over the northern territory. In 1998, the Puntland region in Northern Somalia declared partial autonomy, meaning that they reserve the right to operate independently but still can be part of the Federal Government of Somalia. Conflict as a result of both internal and external factors has resulted in more than a million deaths, with many more fleeing to neighbouring countries. 

In the early 2000s, there were renewed efforts to rebuild the Somali central government, which involved a dual state-building and peacebuilding process. The renewed efforts, spearheaded by the regional institution Intergovernmental Authority in Development (IGAD), led to the signing of the Arta Declaration in 2000 which addressed representation in government, a significant obstacle to the Somali peace process. The declaration asserted that all future Somali governments would use the 4:5 formula which states that the four main clans – Dorad, Hawiye, Dir (includes the Isaaq) and Rahanweym (Digil-Mirifle) will have equal representation in government while the other smaller clans will share the rest of the representation. Though Somali politicians, with the support of the regional institutions, attempted to address clan grievances, the transitional governments – the Transitional National Government and Assembly (TNG/A) (2000-2004) and Transitional Federal Government/Parliament (TFG/P) (2004-2012) – were plagued with inefficiency, infighting and corruption. Additionally, the insecurity in the country forced the President, Cabinet and the majority of the Members of Parliament to operate from Kenya, which contributed to their inability to govern. 

Despite the challenges brought upon by Al-Shabaab, an insurgent group terrorising the country since 2007, the TFG/P managed to create a new constitution which effectively led to the first election since 1969. On 20 August 2012, the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) was born under the leadership of Hassan Sheikh Mohamed (2012 -2016). Similar to the transitional governments, the FGS aimed to stabilise the country through building a national consensus between the government and the newly defined regional states – Jubaland, Puntland, HirShabelle, South West, Galmudug and Somaliland.  Each regional state, which is representative of the traditional clan and sub-clan territorial boundaries, was tasked with creating spaces where clan rivalries and grievances could be addressed. 

Since the creation of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) in 2012, each federal government has focused on creating a cohesive and inclusive political space that takes into account clan politics and alliances, as well as the threat of Al-Shabaab. One of the biggest obstacles inhibiting Somalia from moving forward cohesively is the role of clan interest, i.e. clannism, in politics. The majority of the people in power propel the interests of the clan and sub-clan rather than the interest of a united Somalia. As a result, politicians are always sceptical of the intentions of others, and therefore, unable to make significant changes. The inability for the FGS and the regional governments to work towards the common goal of creating a prosperous Somalia, fuelled by lack of trust and clan politics, is another major obstacle. Finally, the failure to put clan politics aside for the betterment of the country has slowed down security sector reform which calls for the integration of clan and sub-clan militia into the armed forces.   

As to date, the FGS must find a way to balance the interest of the state and the sub-clans while tackling the threat of Al-Shabaab, and to a lesser extent, the Islamic State in Somalia (ISS).  Refer to the Al-Shabaab and ISS pages to understand the security angle of the Somali conflict. 

Facts

Where: Somalia

Population: 12.3 Million (UNFPA 2014)

Dates of conflict:  1988-1991, 1991 – 2000, 2007 – present  

Deaths: approximately 1 million

 

Refugees/Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs) – 1.1 million 

Key actors

Following the collapse of the Siad Barre Dictatorship in January 1991, Somalia struggled to rebuild the central government. Between 1991 and 2012, the Somali government went through a period of transition as the Parliament and other key officials, with the support of the international community, formed the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS). The process included agreeing to the 4:5 formula of representation, which stipulated that the four major clan-families (Dorad, Hawiye, Dir (includes the Isaaq) and Rahanweym (Digil-Mirifle)) would have equal representation in government. At the same time, the other smaller clans would share the rest of the representation. 

The current central government was formed on 20 August 2012 following a constitutional change. Similarly to the previous transitional governments, the FGS needs clan and sub-clan grievances who tend to fight over land, resources, and recently, the distribution of revenue from oil. The federalist system, which divides the country into six regions (HirShabelle, Jubaland, Puntland, South West, Galmudug and Somaliland), mains to quell clan tensions. The clan rivalries not only paralyse the operations of the government and country but al-Shabaab sometimes exploits it.  

With the influence of the international community, the Somali government has been forced to address the issue of women in government. The idea of women in public spaces has been a taboo in Somali culture where the political issues had traditionally been discussed among the Guutri or the traditional leaders who are men. The new constitution stipulates that the Parliament must fulfil the 30% women quota. Though the government has not met the women quota, the conversation of equality of women and men is increasingly being discussed in Somali society.

The 2012 constitutional change that brought about the Federal Government of Somalia (FSG) created a federalist system which divides the country into regional states; 1) Galmudug, 2) Hirshabelle, 3 (South West State, 4) Jubbaland, 5) Puntland and 6) Somaliland. The capital city of Mogadishu is part of the Banadir Regional Administration which is not governed under any regional state. The Federalist system was created in an attempt to tackle the issues of lack of equal clan representation in government and division of resources. These two issues have caused many inter-clan and inter-sub-clan conflicts. Currently, the Federal Government and the regional states have a poor relationship, with two out of five states refusing to work directly with the FGS. 

On paper, the federalist system can contribute to the stabilisation of Somalia, but the reality is that the implementation of the federal system has created more issues. For starters, the addition of Somaliland as a regional state is a contentious issue since they declared their independence from Somalia during the first Somali Civil War (1988-1992).  No country does not recognise Somaliland though it enjoys trade relationships with most of the regional countries, as well as the Gulf States. Secondly, the recent push for exploration of oil in Somalia has turned the tensions between the regional states and the Federal Government to an all-time high. The tensions reached a tipping point when the regional government of Puntland dissolved all its relations with the Federal government. The constant tension between the regional states and the FGS has led some federal states to suspend their relationship with the central government for months at a time.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) was established on 3 June 2012 through a UNSC Resolution. UNSOM aims to support the establishment of the Federal Government of Somalia by providing advice to the government, and AMISOM on matters such as peacebuilding, governance, security sector reform, the rule of law, the democratisation of Somalia, among other issues. Currently, they are working alongside the Federal Government of Somalia to develop the 2019 portfolio of the UN-Secretary General Peacebuilding Fund, which details the new state-building projects that the two entities would undertake this year. Some of the projects focus on stabilisation of the country, especially in those recently “liberated” areas from al-Shabaab, assisting Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs) and leveraging women’s contribution in peacebuilding while promoting gender sensitivity and equality.

Current Situation

Trend:  Stalemate
Classification: Civil war, clannism, humanitarian crisis
Current situation: Between July and September 2020, many in Somalia are focused on the upcoming 2020/21 parliamentary and presidential elections. After the last election in 2017, the government, with the support of the international community, had pushed for the first “one-person, one vote” (1P1V) election in decades. The national election commission proposed the election be postponed by at least 13 months to ensure the historic vote took place, but this was met with scepticism. The announcement by the electoral commission created tension between two regional governments, Puntland and Jubaland, and the federal government, who saw the move as an attempt by Somali President Abdullahi “Farmaajo” to stay in power illegally. The opposition forced the Somali President to vow not to extend his term limit. To forge a path forward in a series of meetings dubbed “Dhusamareb Conferences”, the Somali President and regional presidents agreed that the long-awaited 1P1V could not take place under the current circumstances. Therefore, the current system – from which the elected parliamentarians elect the President – would be used for the upcoming election. Amid deciding the electoral model, Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire was ousted out of office by the Parliament in a surprise vote that was condemned by the international community. Currently, the election process is expected to begin on 1 November.  

Timeline of the crisis

1885 – 1969: From colonisation to Somali Civil War    

By 1892, Somalia was colonised by French (Djibouti), Britain (British Somaliland and Northern Kenya), Italy (Somalia) and the Abyssinian Empire (Ogaden region in Ethiopia). In 1945, Italy lost Italian Somaliland to the British as a consequence of being on the losing side of World War Two.  The combined territory is hence a force known as British Somaliland.  By 1949, Britain relinquished its control of the area, and British Somaliland officially became the Trust Territory of Somaliland, a United Nations Trusteeship, under Italian Administration. On 1 July 1960, Somalia gained its independence, and Aden Abdullahi Osman Daar became President until 1969.

1963 – 1967: Shifta War commences between Kenya and Northern Province People’s Progressive Party (NPPPP). 

NPPPP, an ethnically Somali political party, was supported by the Somali government. The NPPPP wanted the northern part of Kenya, which is mainly ethnically Somalis, to secede to join Somalia. In 1967, Somalia and Kenya signed a Memorandum of Understanding, ensuring that Somalia would not arm armed groups in Kenya. In response to Somalia’s actions in the Shifta war, Kenya and Ethiopia signed a Mutual Defense Pact in 1964.  This was necessary at the time since Somalia and Ethiopia were also fighting and conducting cross-border attacks in each other’s territory. 

1969 – 1991: General Said Barre stages a bloodless military coup to become President. 

Said Barre comes to power soon after the assassination of the Somali President Abdirashid Ali Shermarke. His 22-year dictatorship is characterised by; 1) the marginalisation of all clan that does not belong to the Ogaden clan family, and 2) oppression of nationalist and Islamic groups. 

July 1977- March 1978: Ogaden War between Somalia and Ethiopia over the disputed Ogaden region in Ethiopia, which is inhabited by mainly ethnically Somali people  

Following the disastrous war, the Said Barre regime signed an agreement with Ethiopia that both sides pledged not to aid any opposition groups operating in their respective countries. Ethiopia was supporting the Somali nationalist groups operating from their territory while Somalia funded the ethnically Somali groups operating in the Ogaden region.  At the end of the disastrous war, few soldiers attempted to stage a coup but failed. As a result, 17 military commanders accused of being organisers of the attempted coup against Said Barre are publicly executed. 

By 1988, the conditions within Somalia had worsened significantly that the Somali National Movement (SNM) began attacking government and military posts in Northern Somalia, initiating the Somali First Civil War. While SNM fought in the North, the United Somali Congress (USC), in coordination with other smaller groups, fought against General Barre in Mogadishu. During this four-year conflict, over 300,000 Somalis died as a result of war-related casualties, hunger, and disease.

The pressure from the United Somali Congress (USC), in coordination with other smaller groups, ultimately forced President Barre to flee outside Somalia.

Refer to Pre Crisis timeline to know more about Siad Barre regime

With the Somali Civil war intensifying, the leaders of the Somali National Movement, one of the main parties against the Said Barre dictatorship, declared independence from Somalia. Between then and 2000, the Somalilanders engaged in peace conferences with key stakeholders in the country as they attempted to bring peace among the warring parties in the self-declared state.  In a decade, the Somalilanders stakeholders agreed on a constitution which underwent a referendum on 31 May 2001. The government noted that 99.7% of all eligible voters took to the polling stations to vote in the referendum. 

Though Somaliland is not recognised by any country in the world, the country enjoys bilateral ties with many European and African countries. Access to the red sea makes the country desirable to many countries in the West.

The sense of victory over defeating General Said Barre was short-lived since the coalitions created to defeat him collapsed due to inter-clan conflicts. When the alliance between the two most influential leaders, General Aideed and Ali Ahmed, who were co-founders of the United Somali Congress (USC), broke out, fighting between them resulted in the ultimate Battle for Mogadishu. The fighting between the two parties caused the United Nations to intervene. Eventually, General Aideed declared himself President, but it was short-lived because he was shot by one of his supporters.

The conflict between the General Aideed and Ali Mahdi in Mogadishu caused the United Nations to intervene through a Security Council Resolution. Through this process, the United Task Force in Somalia (UNITAF), a US-led military operation, was deployed in 1993. The most notable confrontation was the Black Hawk Down incident where suspected General Aideed supporters shot down a U.S. military plane. The event led to the death of 18 U.S. troops who were then paraded around the city as a sign of victory over the Americans. The U.S. military immediately abandoned their mission in Somalia following the incident. A combination of the Black Hawk Down incident and the deaths of other U.N. peacekeepers forced the U.N. to begin the process of withdrawing personnel from Somalia.

Following in the footsteps of Somaliland, Puntland regional state of Somalia declares that it would operate as a semi-autonomous state within Somalia. The declaration came after a three-month conference in Garowe, the capital of the regional state, with major local stakeholders in the regional state. As a semi-autonomous state, Puntland, unlike Somaliland, is not seeking international recognition and is part of the Federal States of Somalia.  

Somaliland and Puntland have been fighting over the Sool and Sanaag regions that border the two states. Each side claims the area is a part of their territory. As a result, the troops of the two side engage in gun battles that sometimes lead to the death of civilians. Each side has stationed troops in the disputed area, as well as elected regional governors.

The new millennium brought about a renewed effort to re-establish a Somali Federal Government. Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a Horn and East African regional institution, spearheaded the processes. In 2000, the Arta declaration, the basis of all subsequent Somali governments, was signed in Djibouti. The declaration asserted that all future Somali governments would use the 4:5 formula which states that the four main clans – Dorad, Hawiye, Dir (includes the Isaaq) and Rahanweym (Digil-Mirifle)) would have equal representation in government while the other smaller clans will share the rest of the representation.  The Arta Declaration also established the Transitional National Government/Assembly (TNG/A). Both the TNG and TNA proved to be ineffective to bring any incremental change as it was riddled with corruption, anti-Ethiopian rhetoric and was unable to extend its authority outside the capital of Mogadishu.

Following the collapse of the transitional government, which was also created through the Arta Declaration, the Eldoret Conference created the Somali Transitional Federal Government/Parliament (TFG/P). The TFG/P governed Somalia until the creation of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) in 2012.

The United Islamic Courts (UIC) is a predecessor of al-Shabaab. UIC was formed when it splintered from Al-Ittihad al-Islamiyah (AIAI), a relatively moderate Islamic group. When UIC was established, they immediately had an instant connection with the business community in Mogadishu. The business community believed in the UIC’s ability to maintain peace and security in the city since they did not charge taxes and other forms of payment like the other warlords who controlled different neighbourhoods in Mogadishu. The business community did not mind the Islamic rhetoric as they saw their version of Islamism as more moderate compared to other groups. By 2006, UIC had grown in popularity and military strength. Following their military build-up, UIC challenged the authority of the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG). The two sides fought for the control of Mogadishu in which UIC won, forcing the TFG to relocate the seat of government to Baidoa. Since UIC was created with remnants of AIAI, the Ethiopian government was concerned over its rise. By December 2006, the Ethiopian military had invaded Somalia, with the support of the U.S., to oust the UIC from power, which only took a month.

The African Mission in Somalia is a peacebuilding mission approved and sanctioned by the African Union and United Nations. Following the approval in February, Uganda and Burundi had deployed troops to support the Somali Transitional Federal Government’s (TFG) efforts to stabilise the country.

Note: Analysts claim that one of the reasons why AMISOM was approved quickly was due to the U.S. supporting the invasion of Somalia by Ethiopian troops to remove UIC from power. Ethiopian troops need an exit strategy following the defeat of UIC since they were technically breaking the 1992 U.N. arms embargo.

After the fall of the Islamic Courts with the help of Ethiopia, and later the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops), Somalia was once again forced to restart its state-building process. One of the biggest tasks that the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) needed to do was to build coalitions with the warlords and other clan leaders (i.e. non-state actors) that had gained territory between the fall of Said Barre in 1991 and the rise/fall of Islamic Courts. In the political front, many of the non-state actors wanted political positions, which for the most part, the TFG leadership agreed. The continuously changing alliances in Somali politics remained the major setback for Somalia. The changing alliances that no president has re-elected for a second term, no prime minister finished their term of office as Parliament would vote them out. 

The second major obstacle that the TFG government needed to accomplish was to move the seat of government to Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. Between 2000-2007, though the seat of government was Mogadishu, most of the members of Parliament (M.P.s) and top leadership lived in Nairobi. When the Islamic Courts took over the Mogadishu, the remaining M.P.s moved the seat of government to Baidoa, another major city in Somalia. The new plan by the TFG is to move the seat of government back to Mogadishu with the help of AMISOM troops who protect government officials, and the rest of the M.P.s operating from Nairobi had to move back to Somalia. By 2010, the TFG was operating from the capital though al-Shabaab operatives assassinated M.P.s and conducted major attacks on government buildings.

One of the significant accomplishments that occurred despite the Somali conflict raging on is the creation of the Somali Federal Government (SFG).  The creation of FGS is seen as a significant step in the stabilisation efforts for Somalia, which would be made complete when the threat of al-Shabaab is reduced. One of the essential elements of the new constitution is that it made Somalia into a federalist state which created the federal states of HirShabelle, Puntland, Jubaland, South West, Galmudug and Somaliland. Naming Somaliland as one of the regional states of Somalia fuelled further issues between Somaliland and Somalia since Somaliland continues to maintain that they are independent of Somalia. 

The first president under the new constitution was Hassan Sheikh Mohamed who served the office from 20 August 2012 to 16 February 2017.

Following a meeting with federal politicians and politicians from Lower Juba, Middle Juba and Gedo regions, who gathered in the port city of Kismayo, Jubaland was unilaterally declared as a new Federal Member State. Delegates at the conference declared Ahmed Mohamed Islaan “Madobe”, as the new President of the state. The FGS quickly objected to the appointment of Ahmed Madobe as the President of Jubaland. The FGS stated that the process was not constitutional and did not engage with the Somali government in the process.  Jubaland state quickly gained the support from Kenya, which borders the federal state and is part of the regional peacekeeping force.  

Ahmed Madobe was a former leader of Al-Shabaab when his militia Ras Kamboni Brigade joined the extremist group. By the beginning of 2013, following talks with the Somali government, Ras Kamboni Brigade defected and joined the government forces. 

The objection from the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) about the process of the election of Ahmed Madobe as President of Jubaland State resulted in bloody clashes in Jubaland. 

Ethiopia brokered a deal between all parties that saw the formation of an Interim Juba Administration (IJA). The key stakeholders agreed to control key revenue generating sources, i.e. seaport and airport jointly.

The northern regional state of Puntland announced that they have cut off all ties with the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS). The Puntland administration accused the FGS of refusing to share power and foreign aid with the region in line with the country’s federal structure, as well as not doing enough in its fight against al-Shabaab. Puntland would only resume its relationship with Mogadishu if the government respects the country’s federal structure.

South West Administration, one of the five regional governments, is re-established as a regional state with Barawa as its capital but later moved to Baidoa.  The re-establishment of the S.W. the regional state comes after a convention in Baidoa between federal government of Somalia (FGS) officials and local representatives. After three months of discussion with stakeholders, Madobe Nunow was elected as President of the newly founded S.W. State.  

On 1 April 2002, Hassan Muhammad Nur Shatigadud, established the South West Administration. The administration lasted until 2005 when it was dissolved. Hassan Nur was the leader of the Rahanweyn Resistance Army (RRA), one of the major influential clans and militia in the country.  In 2005, the administration was dissolved when the founder Hassan Nur agreed to be part of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

As soon as South West State was founded, the regional government and its neighbour, Jubaland, entered a row over the boundaries of the regional States.  The Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) initially took sides in the conflict, saying that some of the districts (Gedo, Middle Juba and Lower Juba) that S.W. had claimed to be part of their territory were already allocated to Jubaland regional government in the Addis Ababa agreement.  After months of heated internal politics in the regional state, with the support from the Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, South West agreed to relinquish the three disputed districts back to Jubaland. It took six months for the agreement between South West State and Jubaland to be finalised.   

Somali President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, and Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed congratulated clan elders and other local leaders for agreeing to terms to create the Galmudug regional state. Following months of discussion and reconciliation conferences, a landmark agreement between delegates from the regional state of Galmudug, Himan and Heb Administration and Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jamaah (ASWJ) Administration. The three parties agreed to unite and form an inclusive regional government. The Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) appointed a committee of FGS Cabinet members to support the process of the creation of the state. 

To ensure that the process of unification goes smoothly, all three administrations agreed to hand over command of its military forces to the federal police. Himan and Heb Administration followed through with the agreement while Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jamaah (ASWJ) Administration withdrew from the conference and refused to withdraw its troops from Dhusamareb. ASWJ argued they lack representation in the new government. Interestingly, the capital of Galmudug was moved to Dhusamareb from Adado to appease the ASWJ. Tensions between Galmudug state and ASWJ reached an all-time high when troops from each side engaged in fierce gun battles in Abudwaak town. Local media reported that at least 20 people were killed in the two-day fighting. ASWJ returned to the negotiation table after intervention from the Somali international community. 

Once again, the Puntland regional state has cut ties with the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS). This time, Puntland president Dr Abdiweli Mohamed Ali Gaas noted that his administration strongly opposes the creation of the Galmudug. He further states that he is against the creation because “it runs counter to the constitution.” He added that he is in dismay over the involvement of international envoys in an “agreement that went beyond the clauses and articles in the Federal constitution.”

Three months later, Puntland, with the support from the U.N. Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and the E.U., agreed to restore their relationship with the federal government. The agreement with the Somali government assured Puntland that the creation of the Galmudug state would not affect its borders. The agreement also stipulated that there will be an even distribution of international assistance. Further discussion over the provisions of the constitution by a parliamentary committee representing Puntland and the FGS.    

Lengthy negotiations between Hiraan and Shabelle regions in Somalia to create HirShabelle regional state conclude. The negotiations end with the election of President in which Ali Abdulahi Osable becomes President of the regional state. He was elected by 90 parliamentarians which 60 of whom voted for Osable.  

Obsable’s government immediately had problems. He was unable to create a cabinet 45 days after being sworn into power. Following a two-month extension given by the regional Parliament granted, president Osable created his 23-person Cabinet. The delays in the process was a result of opposition from some clan enders in the Hiraan region that opposed the President’s pick.

Abdullahi Farmaajo was elected as the President of Somalia following the parliamentary election in December 2016/January 2017. 

Before becoming President, Farmaajo served as Prime Minister for eight months during Sharif Sheikh Ahmed’s presidency (Jan 2009 – August 2012). His short stint as Prime Minister was met with protest as thousands of civilians, soldiers and legislators did not want the President to accept his resignation. His resignation came due to the pressure from the regional and international community at the Kampala Accord meetings that wanted the technocratic Cabinet to be re-composed.

The international community welcomed the election of Mohamed Abdi Waare. U.N. Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) noted that voting “took place in an open and public process.”   

The Somali Peace Building Fund aims to facilitate youth political empowerment by enabling Somali young women and men to engage in meaningful engagement in governance, peacebuilding and reconciliation. This fund is crucial since two-thirds of the Somali population is under the age of 25. 

Note: The Somali Peace Building Fund is part of the broader U.N. Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) which currently supports more than 120 projects in 25 countries.

As part of its mandate, UNSOM facilitates discussion among key stakeholders in the various regional states. This time, their services were taken to Galkayo, Galmudug state where they facilitated discussions among local leaders, police and community leaders aimed to establish a community forum and joint police community action plans. The UN-led process hoped to safeguard the ceasefire between two regional states, Puntland and Galmudug who are fighting over boundaries of their respective territories. Following the discussions, participants partook in training on community policing and leadership.

The November 2018 elections for the presidency in the South West State was problematic from the very beginning. The incumbent, Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, was showing signs that he would not relinquish the position of President easily. Twin bombings in the capital city of S.W. State, Baidoa, in October led to the death of two presidential hopefuls. To make matters worse, 15 members of the election committee resigned from their post, claiming that the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) was interfering with the local process. As a result, the election was postponed by ten days from 18 November. 

The second obstacle for the South West election was the opposition from the FGS for the former al-Shabaab leader, Mukhtar Robow, from running for office. The former deputy of Al-Shabaab defected to the Somali government in 2017, five years after leaving al-Shabaab due to disputes with then leader of the extremist group, Ahmed Godane. He was very popular among the people. His popularity led to his arrest, causing major protests in Baidoa. The protest led to the death of at least 12 civilians, a regional member of Parliament (M.P.) and dozens more injured.  The Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) said that Robow is unable to run for local government as he is subject to U.N. Security Council sanction, as well as being a security threat. Robow has not been released from government-imposed house arrest in Mogadishu. 

With Mukhtar Robow arrested and unable to partake in the election, a hurried election took place with Somalia’s State Minister for Trade, Abdiaziz Hassan Mohamed “LaftaGareen” winning the election. This election was heavily criticised as analysts saw the election as a fraudulent attempt by the FGS to ensure a supporter of the government is in power. 

Incumbent President, Ahmed Islam Madobe, was re-elected as the President of Jubaland regional state. He won more than two-thirds of the votes cast by local elders, with the only female candidate winning the remainder of the votes. In his acceptance speech, he said, “I’m ready to hold dialogue with the opposition and address any issues they may have.” 

Some of the candidates boycotted the elections, saying that the process was rigged to ensure that Madobe wins. Before the election took place, the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) announced that they would not accept the outcome of the poll, calling the process “not free and fair.” 

At the same time, one of the candidates and a staunch opponent of President Madobe, Serrar organised a separate poll in which he was elected as President. 

In an escalation of tension between the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) and its regional member state, Jubaland, the FGS has blocked all entry to the port city of Kismayo. The authorities ordered the closure of air, land and sea borders for a week. The blockade comes a day after the announcement of the contentious election results in Jubaland which saw incumbent President Ahmed Islam Madobe winning a second term. 

Tensions increased further when in September, the FGS banned all direct flights to the port city of Kismayo and the capital of Jubaland state. The government has called for all official and regional planes to stop in Mogadishu before heading to the port city.

Galmudug state reconciliation conference begins in Dhusamareb. The reconciliation conference is a Somali-owned process where stakeholders in a regional state come together to address issues affecting the state while also choosing representatives to part of the technical electoral commission. One of the contentious issues is when the election should take place. The current President of Galmudug state, Ahmed Dualle Gelle Haaf insists that since he signed a power-sharing agreement with Sufi group Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama’a (ASW) in December 2017, the election should take place a year after the intended date of December 2020.  The federal government of Somalia disagrees and is pushing for the regional election to take place as expected in December 2020.  

At the U.N. General Assembly meeting, Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo noted the role the country has been playing in the socio-economic development of the Horn of Africa. He highlighted how cooperation between the countries in the region has only strengthened political stability and social and cultural connectivity. Moreover, he spoke of the upcoming 2020/21 elections, which they aim to be the first universal suffrage election since 1969. 

President Farmajo also urged the international community to continue to support Somalia to ensure the tangible progress does not fade away. They cautioned that without security, all the gains could be diminished. “With the help of our international partners, we are striving to rid ourselves of the last pockets of violent extremism and terrorism,” he said, stressing that the task would not be easy, especially given the “violence, cowardice and opportunistic guerrilla tactics of Al Shabaab.”

More than six Somali opposition parties, including two parties belonging to former presidents of Somalia, have joined to form a new political alliance, the Forum for National Parties (FNP). In a live press briefing, former president Sharif Sheikh Ahmed (2009-2012), who leads Himilo Qaran Party, was announced to head the NFP. Former President Hassan Sheikh Mohamed (2012-2017), who leads the UPD party, also joined the NFP.  

The fourth annual Somalia Partnership Forum in Mogadishu brought together over 200 representatives from the Somali government, private sector and international community. Topics discussed included planned universal suffrage elections, increased trade relationships, and security.  The forum produced the Mutual Accountability Framework (MAF) which called for Somalia to adopt the electoral law before 2020 and pass the new constitution by June 2020. The adoption of the new constitution should outline precise functions and powers of the federal government and the regional states.  The MAF also calls for a national reconciliation process to continue and to ensure that the quotas of women and youth in Parliament to be upheld. 

Somalia’s Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Muhammad Ghulaid said; “We are under no illusion to underestimate the myriad challenges ahead of the country’s full recovery, which demands concerted political and financial commitment from both local stakeholders and international partners.

The U.S. embassy in Somalia announced that they have reopened its Embassy in Mogadishu. The U.S. closed its Embassy amid the civil war in 1991 after dissatisfied militias toppled dictator Said Barre’s regime. U.S. ambassador to Somalia said, “Today we reaffirm the relations between the American people and the Somali people and our two nations. It is a significant and historic day that reflects Somalia’s progress in recent years, and another step forward in regularising U.S. diplomatic engagement in Mogadishu since recognising the federal government of Somalia in 2013.”

Incumbent Jubaland president Ahmed Islam Madobe finally held is inauguration ceremony for the controversial election in August where he claims he won the election. The August election was disputed by both the international community and locals alike due to the irregularities. Locals claimed that President Madobe paid the majority of the M.P.s and elders who are tasked with electing the President. 

U.N. agencies – U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), World Food Program (WFP), U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHRC) U.N. Support Mission to Somalia (UNSOM) – are scaling up their efforts to help flood-affected Somalis. The U.N. agencies have been sending aid filed planes to affected areas where they have distributed portable water, hygiene kits, medical supplies and foodstuffs. Additionally, 2.58 Million dollars have been raised by UNHCR for flood victims. 

Somalia has been hit with devastating floods that have made hundreds of thousands Internally Displaced Persons. U.N. estimates that 370,000 Somalis have been displaced. The most affected town. Also, at least 25 have been killed and 47 others injured since the flooding begun at the end of October. Beletweyne (Beledweyne) is 85% submerged in water, according to the U.N. 

Qatar sent 88 tons of various aid including medicine, blankets, mosquito nets, cooking utensils, gloves, water filters, iron and plastic jerricans. In addition to sending aid, the Ambassador of both countries, accompanied by Somali government officials, made a state visit to the most affected town, Beletweyne (Beledweyne), which is in HirShabelle region state. The ambassadors also met with region president, Mohamed Abdi “Waare.”

The Somali government thanked both Qatar and Turkey for their efforts to help affected victims.

The Somali Democratic Council (SDC), a lobby group in the U.S., wrote to the U.N. accusing Ethiopian troops of preventing Jubaland Vice President from visiting the city of Belet-Hawo, sometimes referred to as Bula Hawa, in Gedo region, part of the Jubaland state. “Mr Secretary General! We the Somali Democratic Council would like to make you aware of the grave and deeply disturbing events that are unfolding in the Jubbaland State of Somalia where non-Amisom Ethiopian troops are wreaking unimaginable havoc by detaining duly elected officials in the cities of Beled-Hawo, Dolow, and Luuq [all in Gedo],” reads the letter signed by Abdikarim A. Omar, the council’s chairman. In the letter, SDC claims that the incident is “a clear and unmistakable invasion” by the Ethiopian military.

Somalia’s Jubaland Vice President, Mohamed Sayyid Adan, escapes to the Kenyan border town of Madera. He claims that Ethiopian forces have stopped his movement, adding that the troops had stopped him from entering the Somali town of Belet Hawo. Unnamed sources say that his and his entourage’s trip to Kenya was facilitated by Kenyan Defense forces (KDF). The KDF has not commented on the claims.

A U.N. Monitoring Group report alleges Ethiopian president Abiy Ahmed fanning instability in Somalia. The report says that Ethiopia has continued to play a role in domestic politics, whether through funding or military support.  The opposition group in Somalia, Forum for National Parties (FNP), agreed with the findings, adding that they have reports of non-AMISOM Ethiopian troops crossing the border in Somalia. “The Ethiopian National Defence Forces have been repeatedly involved in illegal activities whose outcome could at best undermine the fragile state-building and nascent democratic processes in Somalia,” the statement said in part.    

Ethiopian Ambassador to Kenya, Meles Alem, dismissed the claims, saying that the allegations do not hold water. “One of the pillars of Ethiopian foreign policy is non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries. That is our track record,” Meles said. “As a good neighbour, we have only played constructive roles.”

Head of U.N. mission in Somalia, while speaking to members of the National Independent Election Commission, reiterated global partners desire to back the democratic exercise during the upcoming 2020/2021. Somali elections are supposed to take place in December 2020 and February 2021

The international community in Somalia, which includes the African Union, European Union, USA and other stakeholders, congratulated the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) for reaching an agreement with stakeholders in Galmudug. The regional state of Galmudug could not go through the election period until the FGS could create an agreement with Alhu Sunnah Wal-Jama’a (ASWJ). This moderate Sufi group has been essential in the fight against al-Shabaab. The two sides could not agree on how many seats ASWJ would get in the new Parliament which is meant to be elected in late December.

After many delays and disagreements about allocations of government seats, Galmudug has three governments with three presidents. The FGS process, recognised by the international community, saw Ahmed Abdi Kariye “QoorQoor” elected President. Disputing the elections, the influential leader of the Sufi group, Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama’a (ASWJ), Sheikh Shari, declared himself President. The former President, Ahmed Duale “Haaf,” refused to cede power.

The Somali Parliament passed the historical election bill which was later signed into law by the Somali President. The election bill calls for the first one-man, one-vote election in Somalia. Somalis are expected to head to the polls in November/December 2020 for the parliamentary elections and January/February 2021 for the presidential elections. After using the 4:5 clan bases system, which is a power-sharing model that gives equal representation for four main clans, since 2000, the election law abolishes the system. Though the system is being replaced, clan representation in Parliament would still be ensured in the new election bill. 

The last time Somalia had a universal suffrage election was in 1969 before a bloodless coup in the same year brought to power Said Barre’s dictatorship.

African Development Bank (AfDB) has endorsed Somalia’s donor-supported plan to settle arrears it owes to lenders. The decision came following a meeting between the AfDB board and Somalia’s Ministry of Finance.  The bank has agreed for the $122.55 million debt to cleared. 

AfDB had suspended engagement with Somalia for almost three decades due to the chaos and insecurity. The Bank had imposed sanctions against project financing, as well as giving of loans or grants.

Following 24 hours of fighting in Galmudug state capital, Dhusamareb, Sufi group Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama’a (ASWJ) have surrendered to the government soldiers. Government soldiers (SNA) stormed ASWJ headquarters forcing the group leader, Sheikh Mohamed Shakir and spiritual leader, Moallim Mohamud Sheikh, to surrender.  The government spokesperson said that the SNA had disarmed all ASWJ militia. The ASWJ leader also released a statement, adding that the group has decided to focus on religious matters and will no longer be in politics. The 24-hour fighting led to at least 22 people being killed. 

Following the elections that took place at the end of January 2020, tensions in Galmudug regional state have been rising. The disputed elections led to three different governments, including one supported by the ASWJ. The tension reached its peak when ASWJ and SNA fought over a checkpoint into the city. 

Note: ASWJ has been instrumental in the fight against al-Shabaab militants in Galmudug state since 2007. They have assisted government forces in liberating towns and villages from the militant group.

The clashes between Federal government forces (SNA) and Jubaland security forces (JSF), supported by forces loyal to fugitive Abdirashid Janan, who serves as Jubaland security minister but escaped from NISA detention centre in Mogadishu. The clashes between the two sides took place in Belet Hawo, which resulted in the displacement of at least 65,000 civilians.

  • Somalia’s international community expressed their concern about the increased security build-up in the Gedo region in Jubaland regional state in Somalia.  They urged the actors involved to exercise restraint, to reduce the presence of security forces in Gedo, and to avoid any actions that could spark violence. 
  • The international community addressed the tension between Kenya and Somalia. Both sides accuse the other of violating its territorial integrity. The international community welcomed the communication between Somali President Farmajo and Kenya’s President Kenyatta on 5 March. They urged both sides to de escalate tension, to cooperate on border security and to form a joint committee to address issues of diplomacy and trade
  • Note: International Community countries represented in the press release include African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), Denmark, Ethiopia, European Union, Germany, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Italy, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States, United Nations.

U.N. envoy to Somalia, Ambassador James Swan, urged Puntland regional government, President Deni, to be part of the conversation with the FGS to address pressing challenges affecting the country. During the meeting between the two leaders in Puntland, Amb Swan said that he, as well as other regional leaders, should come together, in the spirit of national unity, to overcome difference and find consensus on how best to move forward, in the interest of the Somali people.”

Jubaland President Ahmed Islam Madobe claims that a plot to overthrow him and his government has been thwarted. The President promoted the top Jubaland force commander, Mahad Mohamed Islam, who had been offered at least 1 million dollars to overthrow the Jubaland president. The force commander alleges that Federal government intelligence (NISA) head, Fahad Yasin, offered him the money. He also alleges that the NISA head asked his help in taking Afmadow and Dhobley towns from the control of the Jubaland Forces. Mahad Islam claims that the Federal government sent $110,000, rerouted through the Jubaland Ministry of Finance, to assist with the logistics of accomplishing the desired task. At the ceremony, President Madobe said he is “fully satisfied with [the force commander’s] patriotism to defend our territory. To counter the enemy, we ought to denounce their compromise and fight for our people.”

Somali Foreign Affairs, Amb Ahmed Isse Awad, urged the Puntland President Deni, to mend their relationship with the federal government of Somalia. Speaking during the Puntland State Consultation Forum, the Ambassador advised both sides to tone down the accusations and work towards resolving differences. 

The new Galmudug president, Ahmed Abdi Kariye “QoorQoor”, and his deputy, Ali Dahir Eid, were inaugurated as the new leaders of the Galmudug state. The election took place on 2 February. The delay in the process is a result of disputed elections that led to three presidents in the regional state.     

On 13 April, the newly elected President of Galmudug state in Somalia, Ahmed Abdi Kariye “QoorQoor” took over from his predecessor, Ahmed Duale Gelle “Haaf.” The ceremony took place in Dhusamareb, the administrative capital of the state, where lawmakers from the federal Parliament were also in attendance.

  • Since the election in Jubaland regional state in Somalia in August 2020, the controversial winner of the election, Ahmed Madobe, has been opposed by three other candidates (Abdirizak Hiddig, Dahir Ahmed Sheikh, and Abdinasir Serrar) who declared their presidency.  The disjointed nature of the regional politics forced President Madobe to initiate talks with the rivals from March 2020. After almost two months, the three sides have agreed to end the political stalemate in Jubaland. The rivals agreed to accept the presidency of Madobe while Madobe agreed not to seek a third term. The opposition leaders would be added into the current local government. 

The end of stalemate in Jubaland was welcomed by the Somali international community who welcomed the news. “the agreement represents a helpful step towards resolving the disputes that emerged from the Jubaland electoral process in August 2019, which left the communities and political stakeholders divided.   Disputed electoral outcomes in Jubaland and the other Federal Member States over the past 18 months underscore the importance of credible electoral processes in which Somalis may choose their leaders in accordance with the Provisional Federal Constitution and Federal Member State constitutions, the statement read in part.

The federal government of Somalia (FGS) has officially recognised the election of President Madobe of Jubaland, one year after the election took place. The FGS noted that President Madobe would be the interim leader of the regional state for a period of two years.  The statement urged the Jubaland president to embark on a reconciliation path that will bring both parties together.  In the August 2020 election in Jubaland, the FGS rejected the election process, claiming that the process was flawed and was not “free and fair.” 

The FGS decision to reconcile with Jubaland is very beneficial to the federal government. At this time, the FGS has a good relationship with three of the regional states (HirShabelle, South West, Galmudug), building a better relationship with Jubaland and has a bad relationship with Puntland. Cohesion between the regional states and the federal government is essential for the success of Statebuilding in Somalia

Somali President Abdullahi Farmaajo announced that he had invited the leaders of the five regional states for a meeting in Mogadishu from 5 to 8 July. The leaders are expected to discuss the upcoming election and rebuild the relationship between the federal and regional governments. By 25 June, the presidents of Jubaland and Puntland have not responded to the invitation while the rest have agreed to meet with President Farmaajo.  Technically, the Somali President is supposed to hold frequent meetings with the regional leaders, but due to the deteriorating relationship, the President has not held the meeting in two years. 

The U.N. Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) praised the upcoming meeting between the regional states and the federal government. UNSOM Head, Amb James Swan, said that the meeting was an essential step in regular dialogue among Somali stakeholders.

Following months of stagnation of talks between Somalia and Somaliland, President of Djibouti called both leaders for a meeting in Djibouti.  At the opening ceremony, President Farmaajo condemned the actions of former Somali Dictator Siad Barre who committed human rights atrocities during the civil war in 1988. This is the first Somali President to acknowledge the incident, which is a major issue of contention between Somaliland and Somalia. 

The three-day meeting resulted in Somalia and Somaliland agreeing to, 1) refrain from any action that could derail the talks, 2) politicising humanitarian assistance and developmental aid, and 3) establish a technical subcommittee that will focus on co-management of the Somaliland airspace, and another subcommittee on security. The subcommittees are expected to meet in Djibouti in two weeks while a joint-ministerial committee is supposed to meet in 45 days. 

The international community in Somalia, as well as the Arab League, wrote statements praising both sides for their commitment to restart talks.

The Chairperson of the National Independent Electoral Commission (NEIC), Halima Yarey said that the expected one man, one vote could not feasibly take place during the 2020/21 election. The commission affirmed that the earliest that can take place is by March 2021. The decision is based on the fact that the election commission would need several months to conduct a national registration that does not exist. The commission also noted that the implementation of a biometric system of registration rather than manual would take longer. 

The U.N. Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) thanked the commission for presenting technical options to achieve direct voting for Somalis. The U.N. envoy urged the Somali leadership to quickly discuss and agree upon an electoral model ahead of the upcoming election. 

The E.U. Mission in Somalia also commented on the announcement by the electoral commission. The body stated that the presented options were “realistic and cost effective.”  “The E.U. joins the U.N. in congratulating the NIEC and its Chairperson for the presentation Saturday. We also insist on the need for political consensus based on agreed principles, the opening of political space (from selection to election), and timely elections. March 2021 option seems technically more realistic, financially more cost-effective, and better aligned with agreed principles.”

The President of the five regional governments (Jubaland, Puntland, HirShabelle, South West and Galmudug) opt to attend the meeting organised by Somali president Abdullahi Farmaajo expected to take place from 5 to 8 July.  The regional leaders will hold a meeting among themselves in Dhusamareb instead. This decision comes after leaders of Jubaland and Puntland refused to attend the meeting in Mogadishu, which was supposed to be the first meeting between the regional leaders and the federal President in two years.

The Somali President, Abdullahi Farmaajo agreed with the majority consensus that the 2020/21 election should take place on time and in accordance with the constitution. “President Farmajo also stressed the need to avoid term extension and ensure the country holds an election that is in line with the constitution and the electoral law, which must take place in an environment of peace, consultation and understanding,” the statement said in part. 

The Prime Minister, Hassan Ali Khaire, also stated that he is against term extension and that the elections should take place as expected.  PM Khaire said that he believes that a term extension would lead to chaos in the country.

The President of the five regional governments (Jubaland, Puntland, HirShabelle, South West and Galmudug) rule out the possibility of universal suffrage (one man, one vote) in the upcoming parliamentary and presidential election. The regional leaders say that the government must create an alternative, inclusive model as a substitute during the upcoming 2020/21 election. The previous election (2016/17), Somalia used the indirect vote where the 275 parliamentarians were voted in by 14 025 delegates. The M.P.s later voted for the President. 

The announcement comes as part of the Dhusamareb Summit (9 – 12 July) between the regional leaders where they discussed pressing issues affecting the country such as the electoral model, the strained relationship between the regional states and the federal government and security.

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmaajo met with the leader of Jubaland administration, Ahmed Mohamed Madobe during the early stages of the Dhusamareb conference. This is the first meeting between the two leaders in years. Though tension between Mogadishu and Jubaland was existent, the situation got worse when Mogadishu failed to recognise Madobe’s election in 2019.  The meeting between the two leaders comes less than a month after President Farmaajo noted its necessary to bury the hatchet. In the presidential statement, the Somali President stated that the federal government would recognise the interim administration

Following the four-day conference (19-22 July), the leaders of the federal government and the regional states published a final communique detailing the agreement between the parties.  The leaders agreed to 1) hold timely and credible elections, 2) create a technical committee with representatives from the federal government and regional states that will address the election model, 3)strengthen political, and economic cooperation, and 4) intensify cooperation to eliminate al-Shabaab from Somalia. The leaders agreed to meet back in Dhusamareb in two weeks

Somalia’s regional states have appointed two representatives each to the national technical committee on elections. The appointment is in line with the agreement agreed upon during the meeting between the federal government and regional states in Dhusamareb. The Interior Minister Mohamed Abdirahman Dhabancad and Deputy State House Director Abdiweli Ali Abdulle will represent Puntland state while State Minister Hirsi Jama Gani and State Minister Hamza Abdi Bare will represent Kismayo based regional state as Mohamed Ali Adle and Abdi Mohamed Farah will defend the interest of Hirshabelle state. Galmudug and Southwest state leaders are scheduled to appoint their delegates to complete the list ahead of the meeting in Dhusamareb next month.

Somalis and the international community woke up to the news that the Somali Prime Minister, Hassan Ali Khaire, was ousted from office following a vote of no-confidence by the Parliament. The majority of the Parliament that voted to oust the PM stated that the Hassan Khaire was “ineffective” and not “fulfilling promises made to the nation” Only 8 M.P.s voted against the vote of no-confidence.

The deputy PM, Mahdi Guled, was quickly appointed acting PM by President Farmaajo.

Puntland President, Said Abdullahi Deni, described the FGS parliament’s decision to remove PM Khaire from office as illegal.  He further accuses Somali president Farmaajo of violating the constitution. He said, “What happened in Parliament is aimed at derailing the Dhusamareb conference, and I put the blame for it on the President of the Republic. What happened yesterday is against all  existing laws and regulations that guide the process of removing a Prime Minister from office.”

The African Union and the regional body, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) called for unity in realising concrete agreement on ongoing election talks in Somalia. The two African bodies called on Somali leadership to bring all stakeholders together to ensure that the talks in Dhusamareb later next month would result in an agreed election model. “We further underscore the importance of ensuring that the agreed electoral model that will emerge from the technical committee is underpinned by broad-based consensus involving parliament, political parties, civil society and other Somali stakeholders,” the statement read in part.

In a statement, the international community in Somalia expressed their concern about the current political environment that saw the Parliament oust Prime Minister Hassan Khaire. They cautioned against a lack of cooperation among various political stakeholders during this critical transitional period in the country. “Any attempt by a single stakeholder to unilaterally impose electoral modalities will lack legitimacy and will not be implementable without the essential support from other stakeholders,” the statement said in part. The international partners urged the FGS and the regional states to adhere and honour the Dhusamareb agreement

In a separate statement, the E.U. Foreign policy chief, Josep Borell, commented on the situation in Somalia. He noted that the vote showed “serious disrespect for the constitutional foundations” of the country. “Developments in Somalia parliament on Saturday represent a setback for Somalia and the confidence of the European Union in the progress of Somalia.” He added that the vote did not meet the minimal constitutional requirements.”

In a separate statement, the U.S. expressed their concern over the removal of PM Khaire.  The U.S. embassy noted that the move to oust the Prime Minister could escalate political tension in the country. The U.S. termed the move as an irregular process that could be a setback for the reform agenda. “The U.S. Embassy regrets the actions of the President and Lower House of Parliament to withdraw confidence in Prime Minister Ali Hassan Khaire and his government, which heightened political tensions and undermined the ongoing process of dialogue and negotiation between the Federal Government of Somalia, Federal Member States, and other key stakeholders,” the statement reads in part. 

The Somali Cabinet has urged the international community to respect Somalia’s sovereignty following the ouster of Prime Minister Hassan Khaire. The Minister of Information, Mohamed Abdi Hayir, said that the international community should behave more diplomatically, adding that the Cabinet “must protect the country’s sovereignty and the decisions of the constitutional institutions.”

The Somali Foreign Affairs Minister, Ambassador Ahmed Isse Awad assured the international partners and all other Somali stakeholders that Somalia is fully committed to holding all-inclusive polls in the upcoming presidential and parliamentary election. In the monthly briefing with the diplomatic corps, the Minister conveyed “President’s commitment to political stability, inclusivity, and consensus-building. And I thanked our partners for their unyielding support.” Following the ousting of Prime Minister Hassan Khaire, the international community voiced their concerns about the abrupt dismissal of the leader.

Following weeks of uncertainty after the ousting of Prime Minister Hassan Khaire, many political parties and clans have voiced their concern. The latest communique comes after the Mudolood conference, a summit that called representatives of the Mudolood clan including the two former presidents and current regional President. The communique said in part, “The Mudulood clan calls on the Federal Government to ensure the 2020/21 national elections are based on consensus and are held on time. The clan warns against a term extension for the government that may plunge the country into a political and constitutional crisis.” 

The clan conference also addressed the al-Shabaab menace in the country. They vowed to purge extremist groups from their historical land, adding that the FGS and AMISOM should support their efforts.   

Somali President, Abdullahi “Farmaajo” met with three out of the five regional presidents to finalise the electoral model for the upcoming 2020/21 election.  Before the meeting took place, the President of Puntland, Said Deni, who boycotted the previous meeting, placed conditions for his participation in the conference. He told President Farmaajo of Somalia that he needs to name a new Prime Minister, he should not suggest the extension of his term limit, categorically ruling out a universal vote. Since his demands were not met, he did not attend. Jubaland president, a strong ally of Puntland President Deni, did not attend the meeting either. 

The Dhusamareb Conference III agreement stated; 1) the election will be facilitated by the National Independent Electoral Commission (NEIC), 2) four electoral constituencies to be designated in every regional state, which the election shall take place, 3) elections to happen at the same time across the country, 4) elections be held on a multi-party system, 5) members of the Upper House be elected by the regional state M.P.s, 6) 30% quota on women in Parliament to be protected, among other matters. 

A day after the conclusion of the Dhusamareb conference III, Presidents of Jubaland and Puntland issued a statement noting that the conclusion of the conference is between the three present regional presidents and the Somali President.

The International Community in Somalia has welcomed the results of the Dhusamareb III conference, though saddened by the lack of participation by Jubaland and Puntland presidents. James Swan, the U.N. Envoy to Somalia, said “it is disappointing that they declined to participate despite repeated appeals from the Somali political leaders and international partners. We understand that there are strongly held divergent views among the leaders and political tension are high in the pre-electoral period. Yet, it is precisely during such moments that it is most necessary for the nation’s leaders to engage in dialogue and present their best ideas to find solutions in the interest of the Somali people.”

Prior to the conference, the U.S. called for comprehensive consultation and consensus across Somalia’s political spectrum on the electoral model. After the conclusion of the meeting, the U.S. criticised the absence of Puntland and Jubaland, adding “spoilers without participation sacrifice democracy for their own ambitions. Parties will need to move forward with the timely model agreed.” 

The main opposition party coalition, Forum for National Parties (NFP), welcomed the consensus reached in Dhusamareb III regarding the electoral process and considers the outcome as a step in the right direction. The coalition calls for the Puntland and Jubaland presidents to participate in future talks as it makes the process more inclusive. They call on the next meeting to be inclusive of other stakeholders, i.e. opposition parties and civil society.

The Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) issued a letter ordering the Director of CARE International – Somalia, Iman Abdullahi, to leave the country with immediate effect. The Minister of Education, Abdullahi Godah Barre, accused the Abdullahi of meddling in the country’s internal politics, specifically undermining the development of the country’s education sector.

The President of the self-declared independent state of Somaliland, Muse Bihi, urged the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to accelerate efforts towards holding the upcoming regional and national elections on time. The elections are supposed to take place in May 2020 – nine months –  as agreed upon with the leaders of the main opposition parties

  • Somalia’s Ambassador to the UN, Abukar Dahir Osman Baale, issued a communique calling for a review of U.N. Mission in Somalia’s (UNSOM) mandate. Though he praised the U.N.’s efforts in promoting peace and stability in Somalia, he insisted that the developmental and reconstruction efforts in the country “must be Somali-driven, and must be as Somali-driven.” He cautioned the U.N., as well as other international community members, against interfering with Somali affairs, especially the upcoming election.

The issue of interference with Somali internal politics is an accusation that has been in Somali political space for decades. In the case of the U.N., the former U.N. Envoy to Somalia, Nicholas Haysom, was expelled from the country after he shared his dislike for Somalia’s decision to arrest former Al-Shabaab leader and aspiring candidate for the 2018 South West election, Mukhtar Robow.

Galmudug State Information Minister, Ahmed Abdi Falagle spoke out against the recent clan clashes that have plagued the state. The clan clashes, the recent one between Hananbuure and Qalanqaale areas, have resulted in many deaths and injuries. The fighting has also led to many families to be displaced. He urged community leaders to lead in the reconciliation process between rival militias. He also appealed to Cabinet members from making comments about the clashes, as it is the work of the Ministry to make official statements on ongoing issues in the state.

Ousted Prime Minister, Hassan Ali Khaire, declares his candidacy for the upcoming presidential election. Former PM Khaire was ousted from power in July when the majority of the Parliament voted for his removal, a move that shocked the international community. The move was condemned by international partners who saw the ouster of the Prime Minister as a step backwards which could create more issues for Somalia.

During the National Consultative Forum (NCF), which took place between 14 – 18 September, Somali president Abdullahi “Farmaajo” met with regional presidents resulting in an agreement on the electoral model that the country will use during the 2020/21 parliamentary and presidential elections. Key points of the agreement include, 1) Election period will begin 1 November, 2) to hold elections in two cities in the respective regional states, 3) traditional elders, civil society and regional states should jointly undertake the selection of delegates,  4) preserve the 30% women quota, 5) regional assemblies from all five regional states should elect members of the upper house of Parliament. 

Following the meeting, Puntland President, Said Deni, urged the Parliament to approve the NCF agreement. He added that the agreement was “the fruit of lengthy Somali-led discussions based on a satisfactory process that would not favour any group.

Somali opposition parties issued separate statements welcoming the successful conclusion of the NCF. They called for speedy implementation of the agreement. 

Somaliland, a territory that Somalia claims to be part of the country but the inhabitants declared independence in 1991, rejected the outcome of the NFC. In regards to Somaliland, the NFC agreed that the Upper House members representing Somaliland should be elected by joint delegates representing the regions.  Somaliland Foreign Affairs Ministry issued a statement notifying the international partners that the upcoming national polls have nothing to do with the self-declared independent state. Somaliland is expected to undergo their own electoral process, which has been postponed for the last two years. 

Some of the members of the international community in Somalia signed onto a statement where they acknowledged the conclusion of the NFC. Though the agreement fell short of the longstanding Somali goal of direct voting for members of Parliament, they commend the Somali President and regional leaders on the decision. The international community urged that the 2020/21 electoral process be free, fair, transparent, and inclusive

All 215 federal M.P.s have unanimously ratified the appointment of Mohamed Hussein Roble as the new Prime Minister in a special sitting. The new PM vowed to immediately work on preparing for the 202/21 parliamentary and presidential elections. All 215 federal M.P.s have unanimously ratified the appointment of Mohamed Hussein Roble as the new Prime Minister in a special sitting. The new PM vowed to immediately work on preparing for the 202/21 parliamentary and presidential elections.

Following the confirmation and assumption of office, new Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble has been busy meeting with key Somali stakeholders. The PM met with the Presidents of HirShabelle and Jubaland regional governments where they discussed prioritising political issues and ensuring a fair and transparent electoral process. A similar meeting discussing the same topic was held between PM Roble and several M.P.s, Speaker of the Lower House and First Deputy Speaker.     

The PM also met with officials from the Banadir Regional Administration (Mogadishu and its environs) about bolstering security in the capital as the election period nears. As with the previous election period, the extremist group, Al-Shabaab, increases the number of attacks in an attempt to stop the election. Previously, the group has managed to kill presidential candidates, members of Parliament (M.P.s) and delegates who elect the M.P.s

The new Prime Minister, Mohamed Hussein Roble, held meetings with the various international communities and key stakeholders upon assuming his role. He met with the head of United Nations Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), James Swan, and Head of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), Francisco Madeira, EU Ambassador to Somalia, Nicolas Berlanga, among other representatives. In this meeting, the PM briefed the international community on the possible ways the various agencies would partner with the country to achieve its national priorities. 

The PM met with the U.S. Ambassador to Somalia, Donald Yamamoto and other U.S. embassy officials. They discussed the current political situation, and  implementation of the electoral model.

President Mohamed Abdullahi “Farmaajo” chaired a meeting with all the regional presidents, except Somaliland, and the Mayor of Mogadishu to discuss the formation of federal and state-level electoral commissions. The meeting also discussed the appointment of a dispute resolution committee, and the timetable for the electoral process.  

How can you help?

  • Support refugee communities from Somalia; protest Trumps travel ban.
  • UNICEF works to help children in Somalia – https://www.unicef.org/somalia/about.html
  • For more information and to help expose other crimes in Somalia visit Amnesty International – https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/africa/somalia/report-somalia/

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