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Source: The Associated Press published on 25 May 2022 an article titled “For New Somalia Government, Al-Shabab a Threat to Authority” by Rodney Muhumuza.
The article discusses the internal dynamics of Al-Shabaab and its continuing influence. Al-Shabaab’s strategy is to patiently wait for the departure of foreign troops.
President Hassan Sheikh thanks the UAE government for drought support
Friday May 27, 2022
Mogadishu (HOL) – Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud met with the UAE’s ambassador to Somalia, Mohamed Ahmed Othman Al Othman Al- Hammadi at Villa Somalia on Thursday, where he thanked the Emirati government for their donation of $9.6 million to assist with battling the crippling drought.
advertisementsSomalia’s Finance Minister, Dr. Abdirahman Beileh and PM Mohamed Hussein Roble participated in a handover ceremony with the UAE ambassador at the Central Bank of Somalia, where the nearly $10 million seized by Somali authorities at Adan Adde International Airport in Mogadishu in April 2018 was finally deposited.
At the time, Ambassador Mohammed Ahmed Othman Al Hammadi told reporters that the money was earmarked for the salary of UAE-trained Somali soldiers.
The seizure led to a more rapid deterioration of an already fragile relationship between the two countries.
In January 2022, Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble publicly apologized to the UAE for the seizure and ordered the release of the funds. However, the outgoing president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo ordered the central bank governor not to release $9.6 million in “illicit” money. It was formally returned to the UAE government last Thursday, just two days after Farmajo was voted out of office by lawmakers.
During the meeting with the UAE Ambassador, President Mohamud called on the international community to provide more support to the Somali government to better manage the drought, which experts have described as the driest season in 40 years.
President Mohamud appointed Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsame, a candidate in the latest presidential elections, as the special envoy for drought response in the country.
The UN estimates that the number of people affected by drought has risen to 6.1 million.
Somalia’s al Qaeda branch has gotten ‘Bigger, Stronger, and Bolder’ since U.S. exit
Source: Foreign Policy, USA, By Jack Detsch
Friday May 27, 2022
The remains of a police car following an attack by al-Shabab militants on a police station in the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia, on Feb. 16. HASSAN ALI ELMI/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES
Somalia’s al Qaeda franchise has gotten “bigger, stronger, and bolder” since the small U.S. military footprint of 750 troops was ordered out of the country by then-U.S. President Donald Trump in late 2020, the Pentagon’s top military official for Africa said on Wednesday.
U.S. Africa Command chief Gen. Stephen Townsend told reporters at the command’s headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, that the terrorist group al-Shabab had taken advantage of Somalia’s political dysfunction after the U.S. withdrawal to regroup and improve its capability to strike within the Horn of Africa region and overrun African nations’ forward operating bases. Now, after U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision to send troops back, which U.S. officials have described as a move to keep a consistent presence in the country to tamp down on the rising terrorist threat, the United States is making preparations to send just under 500 troops to try to reverse the tide.advertisementsBut al-Shabab’s ability to conduct complex attacks has grown due to the Trump-era hiatus, U.S. military officials believe. In early May, the terrorist group overran an African Union forward operating base in Somalia about 100 miles from the capital of Mogadishu, killing up to an estimated 30 peacekeepers in a tense firefight. And the group stepped up attacks ahead of this month’s elections—including a suicide bombing near the capital city’s airport that killed at least four people and wounded seven.
“In the last 16 months, since we concluded the repositioning out of Somalia, al-Shabab has gotten bigger, stronger, and bolder,” Townsend told Foreign Policy and another traveling reporter in an interview at Africom’s headquarters at Kelley Barracks in Stuttgart. “And we have seen them in recent months conduct attacks that they have not had the capacity to do in the last three years that I’ve been here.”
The lack of a U.S. presence on the ground has impacted Somali troops, too, despite the presence of an AU peacekeeping mission in the country. While Townsend wouldn’t say that Somalia’s military had become “less capable,” the U.S. general said the model of training needs on-the-ground partners to work.
“They haven’t moved forward. They need partnership to move forward,” Townsend said. “We’ve been commuting to work, and it’s less efficient and less effective.” U.S. troops left about a year after al-Shabab launched a complex attack on the Manda Bay Airfield in Kenya in January 2020, killing three Americans. The group’s attacks increased by nearly 30 percent after Trump’s withdrawal, according to one tally.
Despite the uptick in attacks from the terrorist group, Townsend said al-Shabab’s inability to disrupt Somalia’s elections in May was a “bright spot.” Townsend recently met with newly elected Somali PresidentHassan Sheikh Mohamud, who defeated the incumbent president in a parliamentary vote, ending a political crisis that had ensnared the country for over a year.
But al-Shabab, which Townsend called the “largest, wealthiest, and most lethally active arm of al Qaeda,” continues to reiterate that it desires to attack the U.S. homeland. The Pentagon does not believe that al-Shabab has the capabilities to match its ambitions just yet, but it has the ability to strike in the Horn of Africa, killing almost 150 people in an attack on Kenya’s Garissa University in 2015 and staging a truck bombing in Mogadishu in 2017 that took almost 600 lives.
In early May, the group released a video calling for lone-wolf attacks in the United States and jihad against Americans and Westerners globally. “That’s only a couple of weeks ago,” Townsend said. “So clearly they have the intent, and they’re saying it loudly and publicly, and we should pay attention.”
Townsend said that in 2019, the United States uncovered a plot where al-Shabab was more than two years into training two commercial pilots for possible attacks inside the United States. And in the aftermath of the probe, Townsend, who retires soon, is left with more questions about al-Shabab’s efforts.
“I’m wondering, one, did we disrupt the entire plot? Were there more than the two pilots we discovered?” he said. “And two, what other plots have been out there for two and a half years that we don’t know about?”
Jack Detsch is Foreign Policy’s Pentagon and national security reporter. Twitter: @JackDetsch
WATCH: UN Security Council extends mandate of UN Assistance Mission in Somalia
Source: Hiiraan Onine, Friday May 27, 2022
Mogadishu (HOL) – Somali Ambassador to the United Nations Abukar Dahir Osman (Baale) welcomed the adoption of the resolution that renewed the United Nations Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) mandate for another five months, until October 31, 2022.
advertisementsThe resolution was unanimously adopted by the 15-member council, which requested that UN Secretary-General António Guterres inform Security Council members regularly through oral updates and written reports every 90 days.
Abukar Dahir Osman welcomed the unanimous adoption, saying, “this is the moment for the international community to renew its commitment to the Somali people and, at the same time, to strengthen coordination and consistency in the efforts among different entities and agencies of the United Nations.”
He noted that despite the tangible gains made in recent years, its mandate and activities are increasing disproportionately, adding that the mission can do little to address the evolving political and security developments. Osman said that Somalia looks forward to working with the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs to review the current mandate.
Osman outlined three considerations that would guide Somalia during the Secretary-General strategic review process:
First, we stress that in formulating options for the future United Nations presence, it must be led by the needs and expectations of the Somalis and their leadership. The review must take into account the need for national ownership and must always be aligned with national priorities. The Somali Government is now in a position to articulate those priorities and lead the discourse.
Second, in the process of the review, it is important to identify clearly defined, measurable and realistic benchmarks to track UNSOM’s timely execution and achievement of its tasks while reducing fragmentation to advance efficient and effective delivery. Furthermore, the “end state” must be clear, encompassing a common understanding and shared vision of the roadmap for the transition from Special Political Mission to United Nations Country Team.
Last but not least, the international community must remain strongly committed to the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and unity of Somalia. The United Nations presence should be geared towards safeguarding territorial integrity and federalism in Somalia. Different interpretations and discussions of federalism in terms of power-sharing or revenue-sharing among Somalis in different regions should not alter the UN shared commitment to a strong and united Somalia. It is also crucial that all necessary efforts continue to be undertaken to implement measures against the internal and external actors attempting to undermine the peace and stability in the country.
Osman said that Somalia looks forward to the review and trusts that the UN will consider Somalia’s progress, underscoring the essential need for the United Nations to “work in a spirit of collaboration and synergy” with Somalia.
The UN Security Council authorized the mission to Somalia in June 2013, acting on the recommendations of then-United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to advance peacebuilding and state-building in governance, security sector reform and the rule of law.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud promises direct vote in 2026
Source: Hiiraan Online, Friday May 27, 2022
Mogadishu (HOL) – Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud promised a nationwide election in the country in 2026, promising not to return to the Afisioni airport, where the last two indirect elections were held.
Speaking at an event in Mogadishu on Thursday night that discussed the challenges of this month-long electoral process in which he was elected on 15 May, Mohamud said that while what had happened could be forgiven, it would not be forgotten as a lesson.
advertisementsHe also promised to take governance from regional capitals to the district level, where people can elect their local representatives. He requested the people support the process.
He added that if the Somali people are given the opportunity, they can elect good leaders who can implement democracy to the people’s satisfaction.
Mohamud, who was voted out of power in 2017, was re-elected by Somalia’s parliament on 15 May in Mogadishu, defeating the outgoing president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo in indirect elections.
Somalia has not held a popular election since 1964.
Source: UN, 23 May 2022Africa
The recent conclusion of the electoral process in Somalia offers a long-awaited opportunity to make progress on other urgent national priorities, the UN Special Representative for the county told the Security Council on Monday.
Source: :UN, 24 May 2022 Africa
Time is short for Sudan to reach a solution to its protracted political crisis, the Special Representative for the country told the Security Council on Tuesday, warning that if the impasse is not urgently overcome, the consequences will be felt beyond national borders, impacting a whole generation.
Source: The Associated Press published on 23 May an article titled “Ethiopia Launches Crackdown on Journalists and Activists” and Reuters a similar one titled “Ethiopia Arrests 4,000 in Amhara Region Crackdown, Local State Media Report.”
Ethiopia reportedly arrested thousands of journalists, activists, and Fano militia members in Amhara region to “ensure the survival of the nation.”
Source: The U.S. Department of State, Department of the Treasury, Department of Commerce, and Department of Labor issued on 23 May 2022 an advisory titled “Risks and Considerations for U.S. Businesses Operating in Sudan.”
Following the seizure of power by Sudan’s military on 25 October 2021, the military is in effective control of all state-owned enterprises (SOEs), of which there are at least 650. The advisory warns that investing with, forming partnerships, or facilitating the expansion of SOEs and military-controlled companies in Sudan may entail reputational risks for U.S. businesses and individuals.
This advisory relates specifically to SOEs and military-controlled companies. The U.S. government does not seek to curtail or discourage responsible investment or business activities in Sudan with civilian-owned Sudanese counterparts.
AU: Focus on root causes of conflict, political instability
Source: Human Right Watch, Wednesday May 25, 2022
(Nairobi) – African Union (AU) member countries should use their upcoming summit to commit to addressing human rights issues underlying armed conflict and political upheaval on the African continent, Human Rights Watch said today. The Extraordinary Summit on Terrorism and Unconstitutional Changes of Government will take place on May 25-28, 2022, in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.
The AU summit is taking place within the context of five coups in Africa since 2021, and Islamist insurgencies in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Mozambique, Somalia, and the Sahel, as well as widespread impunity for human rights violations by government security forces. The summit is scheduled to begin on Africa Day, which commemorates the founding of the Organization of African Unity, the AU’s predecessor, in 1963. The summit is an opportunity for the continent’s leaders to address continuing political repression, entrenched impunity, disregard for constitutional term limits, and election rigging.advertisements“The AU summit should follow up on its February pledges by analyzing the links between human rights abuses and insurgencies and coups in Africa,” said Carine Kaneza Nantulya, Africa advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “African leaders cannot afford to avoid addressing how impunity for atrocities committed by their security forces is creating grievances that fuel recruitment by extremist groups.”
In the Sahel, responses by governments and their Western partners need to go beyond the security dimensions of the crisis and consider the underlying deep-rooted social and political factors, Human Rights Watch said. Over the past decade, the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, and other nongovernmental organizations have documented thousands of unlawful killings and other abuses of civilians and suspects by the security forces of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger during counterterrorism operations. Governments have yet to deliver justice to victims and their families.
Many atrocities appear to be in retaliation for the deaths of soldiers during attacks by armed Islamist groups. Leaders in Malabo should deliberate about building and strengthening rights-respecting counterterrorism operations with built-in human rights monitoring and reporting systems, and commit to strengthening judicial institutions to investigate, and fairly prosecute, alleged violations.
“The AU needs to recognize that government abuses are a key driver of endemic crisis that require bold approaches,” said Kaneza Nantulya. “Human rights ought to be firmly at the center of regional solutions for the Sahel and other crises.”
The AU should cooperate with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), to increase the presence of human rights officers in African-led counterterrorism missions. Governments need to ensure that cooperation agreements on counterterrorism operations set out human rights standards, such as the UN Human Rights Due Diligence Policy.
The AU should call for meaningful and effective security sector reform efforts in conflict-affected countries and take concrete measures to improve security force compliance with international human rights and humanitarian law, and their progress on the protection of civilians. These measures should include establishing civilian oversight bodies and vetting mechanisms to remove members implicated in serious human rights abuses from security and intelligence services.
The members also need to address democratic deficits and issues around corruption, impunity, term limits, and the need to hold free and fair elections, which have undermined development and encouraged changes of government that deny citizens the right to choose their leaders.
In Sudan, since the October 2021 military coup, security forces have arbitrarily detained hundreds of protesters and forcibly disappeared scores of others as part of a broader clampdown on activists and civil society opponents of the coup. Security forces have targeted protesters, including children. AU leaders’ engagement with Sudanese leaders on resolving the crisis should fully consider demands by protesters and the broader civic community, such as ensuring systemic reforms, including within the security forces, prioritizing justice for past and recent abuses, and the establishment of civilian rule.
In Chad, the human rights situation, particularly the rights to freedom of assembly and expression, has worsened since the unexpected death of President Idriss Déby Itno in 2021, and the takeover by his son, Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno.
“The AU should urge military leaders in Chad and Sudan to end the killings, enforced disappearances, and arbitrary detention of protesters and activists,” Human Rights Watch said. The authorities should respond to citizens’ demands for ethical leadership, civilian rule, economic security, and demonstrate greater respect for the rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly.
Almost 60 years ago, in establishing the Organization of African Unity, African leaders decided to anchor their vision of human dignity and freedom within a pan-African institution, now the African Union. As African leaders reflect on the many gains since 1963, they should pay close attention to and respond to emerging forms of state-sponsored repression: the use of mass surveillance equipment, hampering of humanitarian access, deliberate internet shutdowns and denial of access to information.
“The AU should urgently address the increasingly ruthless repression of dissent and political opposition by autocratic governments that is fueling political crises across Africa,” Kaneza Nantulya said. “The AU should take steps to reverse these trends that constitute serious reversals of hard-won progress on justice, accountability and the rule of law and act accordingly. If not, those who, like OAU founder Julius Nyerere, argue that the AU is a club of autocrats and not an institution of the African people, will be proved right.”
Finland and Sweden formally apply for NATO membersh
By Emily Rauhala
Source: Washington post, Wednesday May 18, 2022
BRUSSELS — Finland and Sweden submitted letters Wednesday formally applying to join NATO, a historic moment for two countries that held fast to military nonalignment until Russia’s invasion of Ukraine upended their thinking about security.
The delivery of the letters to the alliance’s Brussels headquarters marks the start of an accession process that could take months but is expected to result in an expansion of NATO from 30 to 32 members, remaking Europe’s post-Cold War security architecture.advertisements
“I warmly welcome the requests by Finland and Sweden to join NATO,” Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a news conference in Brussels with ambassadors from each country. “You are our closest partners, and your membership in NATO would increase our shared security.”
Stoltenberg called the applications a “historic step” and said allies will now consider next steps.
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto of Finland are scheduled to appear Thursday at the White House, where President Biden is expected to show his support.
NATO officials and several allies have signaled that Finland and Sweden could expect protection in the period before their membership is fully ratified and they are part of NATO’s collective defense pact, known as Article 5.
A big question is whether Russian President Vladimir Putin will retaliate. European officials and diplomats said Finland and Sweden are prepared for hybrid or clandestine attacks.
Putin cited the threat of NATO expansion among the rationales for his unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Kyiv is not on track for NATO membership, but Putin’s war has resulted in a reinvigorated alliance that is now poised to double its land border with Russia.
The two new members would bring NATO’s full force to the far north and bolster its presence in the Baltic Sea region. The alliance would gain two sophisticated militaries with deep experience operating near Russia’s frontier. Sweden also holds the strategically important island of Gotland, just 200 miles from the Russian military in Kaliningrad.
Finland and Sweden didn’t consider themselves neutral before now. Militarily, they have been close NATO partners. Politically, they are members of the European Union.
But thinking of themselves as nonaligned militarily has been an important part of their self-conception. Before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a majority of people in both countries said it was safer to be outside NATO. But the past months have seen a dramatic swing in public opinion.
“We are leaving one era and beginning another,” Sweden’s Andersson said Monday, announcing the decision.
“This is an extraordinary development given where we were in February,” said Anna Wieslander, director for Northern Europe at the Atlantic Council think tank.
“Russia wanted to turn back time, to go back to the Cold War, to fragment and weaken the West,” she continued. “Now, in May, we are here.”
After receiving the applications, NATO will convene its decision-making body, the North Atlantic Council, to decide whether to move forward with the request. Then there will be accession talks, said a NATO official who spoke on the condition of anonymity according to the alliance’s ground rules.
This first phase of the accession process is expected to be swift, largely because both countries are already close NATO partners. From there, it could take “months” for each member state to ratify the decision, the official said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan voiced skepticism last week about Sweden and Finland’s accession, but NATO officials and analysts say Turkey will fall in line. “We are determined to work through all issues and reach rapid conclusions,” Stoltenberg said Wednesday.
Russian officials have warned of “consequences” at every step but have offered more muted rhetoric in recent days.
Putin said Monday that Finland and Sweden’s entry into NATO did not represent an imminent danger to Russia, but he warned that a military buildup in either country could change that assessment.
“Russia has no problems with Finland and Sweden, and in this sense, expansion at the expense of these countries does not create an immediate threat for us,” he said in televised remarks on Monday. “But the expansion of military infrastructure into this territory will certainly provoke our response.”
“What it will be, we will look at based on the threats that will be created for us,” he continued. “We will respond accordingly.”
In a weekend telephone call, Putin told Finland’s Niinisto that the decision to join NATO was “wrong” and could have “a negative effect” on Russian-Finnish ties, but he did not make specific threats, according to accounts of the call.
NATO and European officials have for the most part downplayed the risk of significant Russian aggression.
The country’s military remains tied up in heavy fighting in Ukraine and has lost soldiers and equipment. Russia also withdrew troops from the border with Finland to fight in Ukraine, leaving Moscow with a reduced capacity to target the border militarily.
Given widespread support for the Nordic countries’ NATO accession, it will be difficult for Russia to influence their populations.
“There is no place to intervene, there is no ground to make people change their minds,” said Henri Vanhanen, a foreign policy expert and adviser to the center-right National Coalition Party in Finland. “This is the democratic resilience we have against Russia.”
“It is out of Russia’s reach right now to try to stop Finland and Sweden from joining NATO,” he said. “It has to come to terms with it.”
If Putin does try anything, allies have pledged support. Britain, Denmark, France, Iceland and Norway are among countries that have promised military support should either Finland or Sweden come under attack. “Whoever would seek to test European solidarity by threatening or attacking their sovereignty, through whatever means, must be certain that France will stand shoulder to shoulder with Finland and Sweden,” according to a French statement released Monday.
Source: Hiiraan online, Monday May 16, 2022
Mogadishu (HOL) – Leaders of Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Kenya on Monday congratulated Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on his re-election as President of the Federal Republic of Somalia as the neighboring countries vie for new relations with the new government.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta wished the new Somalia Head of State good health and success as he took over the reins of leadership and assured him of Kenya’s continued cooperation and comradeship.
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali acknowledged that he looks forward to working closely with the new president on common bilateral and regional interests.
President of Djibouti, Ismail Omar Guelleh, described the new president’s election as a testament to Somali institutions’ resilience and a historic moment for all Somalis.
Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who served as Somalia’s president between 2012 and 2017, won the election with 214 votes, while the outgoing president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo received 110 votes in the final round of the voting last Sunday.
Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya are among the five African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) troop-contributing countries, alongside Burundi and Uganda.
Somalia elects Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as new president
Source: Aljazeera, Monday May 16, 2022
Somali legislators have elected former leader Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as the country’s next president, following a long-overdue election on Sunday in the troubled Horn of Africa nation.
Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who served as Somalia’s president between 2012 and 2017, won the contest in the capital, Mogadishu, amid a security lockdown imposed by authorities to prevent deadly rebel attacks.advertisements
After a marathon poll, involving 36 candidates, that was broadcast live on state TV, parliamentary officials counted more than 165 votes in favour of former President Mohamud, more than the number required to defeat incumbent President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed.
Supporters of Somalia’s new leader defied the curfew to pour onto the streets of Mogadishu, cheering and firing guns as it became clear that Mohamud had won the vote.
Many hope the vote will draw a line under a political crisis that has lasted well over a year, after Mohamed’s term ended in February 2021 without an election.
The president – who is also known as Farmaajo because of his appetite for Italian cheese – conceded defeat, and Mohamud was immediately sworn in.
The new leader struck a conciliatory tone in his acceptance speech from the airport compound in Mogadishu, which was patrolled by African Union (AU) peacekeepers.
“It is indeed commendable that the president is here standing by my side,” Mohamud said, referring to the former leader, who had sat with him as ballots were counted.
“We have to move ahead, we do not need grudges. No avenging,” the new president said.
The 66-year-old Mohamud is the leader of the Union for Peace and Development party, which commands a majority of seats in both legislative chambers.
A member of the Hawiye clan, one of Somalia’s largest, Mohamud is regarded by some as a statesman with a conciliatory approach. He is also well-known for his work as a civic leader and education promoter, including for his role as one of the founders of Mogadishu’s SIMAD University.
Mohamud had promised during campaigning that his government would be inclusive, acknowledging the mistakes of his previous government, which faced multiple corruption allegations and was seen as aloof to the concerns of rival groups.
He now inherits several challenges from his predecessor, including the increasing number of attacks from the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group and a devastating drought that threatens to drive millions into famine.
Two suicide bombings in March killed 48 people in central Somalia, while an attack on an AU base earlier this month killed 10 Burundian peacekeepers. The attack was the deadliest raid on AU forces in the country since 2015.
The United Nations has meanwhile warned of a humanitarian catastrophe unless early action is taken, with emergency workers fearing a repeat of the devastating 2011 famine, which killed 260,000 people – half of them children below the age of six.
Mohamud will also need to repair the damage caused by months of political chaos and infighting, both at the executive level and between the central government and state authorities.
“It’s really been a lost year for Somalia,” said Omar Mahmood, an analyst at the International Crisis Group (ICG) think-tank.
“This long-awaited election has been divisive. Reconciliation is the most immediate challenge,” Mahmood told the AFP news agency.
Though just holding Sunday’s election was a success of sorts, many Somalis were sceptical of any real improvement.
Most of the 36 candidates were old faces recycled from the past who had done little to stem war and corruption, they complained. Votes are anyway influenced more by money changing hands than political platforms, Somalis and analysts say.
“Hassan Sheikh is not good but he is the lesser of the two evils. We hope Somalia will be better,” said Halima Nur, a mother of four in Mogadishu.
“We hope this time Hassan Sheikh Mohamud will improve and become a better leader. We hope Somalia will be peaceful, though this may take time,” said student Mohamed Ismail.
Somalia has not held a one-person, one-vote election in 50 years. Instead, polls follow a complex indirect model, whereby state legislatures and clan delegates pick lawmakers for the national parliament, who in turn choose the president. The third round of voting was decided by 328 legislators, and a simple majority was enough to choose a winner.
Analysts had predicted that incumbent President Mohamed would face an uphill battle to be elected amid widespread criticism from Somalis and foreign donors for trying to extend his tenure last year.
Somalia’s international partners had repeatedly warned that the election delays – caused by political infighting – were a dangerous distraction from the fight against al-Shabab fighters who have been trying to overthrow the government for more than a decade.
Mohamed, who rose to power in 2017 as a symbol of a Somali diaspora eager to see the country prosper after years of turmoil, leaves behind a country even more volatile than before he took over, and with rising al-Shabab attacks.
In his concession speech, Mohamed said his successor faced a “huge task” and pledged solidarity with him.
“Let us pray for the new president, it is a very tedious task,” he said. “We will be in solidarity with him.”
Somalia has endured conflict and clan battles with no strong central government since the fall of Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. The government has little control beyond the capital and the AU contingent guards an Iraq-style “Green Zone”.
Q&A: An ambitious attempt to be Somalia’s first female president
Source: Aljazeera, , Saturday May 14, 2022
There are a few exceptions but Somali women hardly get into politics or hold top public office in what remains a deeply conservative society. Fowzia Yusuf, one of those, speaks to Al Jazeera on seeking another first.
An election banner for Somali presidential candidate and former Foreign Minister Fowzia Yusuf Adam is seen in Mogadishu, Somalia May 12, 2022 [File: Feisal Omar/Reuters]
This Sunday, Somalia is expected to hold its highly anticipated and long-delayed presidential election as 39 presidential candidates jostle for the country’s top position.
Some of the contenders include the incumbent, two former presidents, the immediate former prime minister and the president of the regional state of Puntland, joined the race.
Also in the race is Somalia’s only female presidential candidate, Fowzia Yusuf Adam. She is a legislator and a well-known women’s rights advocate who made history as the country’s first female deputy prime minister and female foreign affairs minister.
The exercise was scheduled to happen more than a year ago but could not, due to a protracted political crisis and raging insecurity being spearheaded by al-Qaeda-linked armed group, al-Shabab.
It is now happening against the backdrop of a May 17 deadline by donors like the International Monetary Fund for the Horn of Africa nation to put in place a government or lose funding.
But no votes will be cast by the Somali people. In the country’s unique electoral system, each clan respectively elects their members of parliament and thus makes the country hold its indirect presidential election.
In all, parliament has 329 members, with 54 of those in the Senate. The Senate members represent the five regional states and are elected by provincial legislators while the other lawmakers are elected by delegates appointed by clan elders and members of civil society. They jointly elect the president who leads the country for four years.
There are a few exceptions but Somali women hardly get into politics or hold top public office, given cultural restrictions in what remains a deeply conservative society.
But Fawzia, the country’s first-ever female deputy prime minister and foreign affairs minister between November 2012 to January 2017, wants to prove that wrong. She is competing with 38 men.
Al Jazeera spoke to Fowzia Yusuf.
Al Jazeera: What encouraged you to join the Somalia presidential race?
Yusuf: The reason is that, since I was deputy prime minister, acting prime minister and even foreign [affairs] minister, I thought I could do more If I went for the top job. I realised that I couldn’t make any tangible achievement unless I aim for the top job.
I was also encouraged by the endless war in Somalia and the lack of good public services to the people.
I also realised the hardship Somali women, children and refugees face. I am so motivated that other countries have progressed well, and we are still struggling with war, yet we have enough natural resources to prosper.
Al Jazeera: What are your plans for your presidency?
Yusuf: If allowed to lead Somalia, I will strengthen the rule of law, complete the draft constitution and strictly follow it. I will implement true reconciliation across the country. Rebuilding the Somali national army and timely providing their rights and need for peace and security is the key to stability.
My utmost priority is to revive the country’s economy by developing the Infrastructural and industrial sector since Somalia has Africa’s longest coast sea. My country has economic resources, including agriculture, fishing and livestock. I will modernise them to fight poverty and create employment for the public so that they can pay taxes.
Abandoning the clan-based system for a proper democratic process is also my ambition.
Regarding public services, I will provide free healthcare and education to the public across the country. Above all, the fight against corruption and prioritising women’s and children’s needs will be the hearts of everything in my administration.
Somali lawmaker and presidential candidate Fowzia Yusuf H Adam sits in her office in Mogadishu, Somalia Saturday, July 17, 2021 [Farah Abdi Warsameh/AP Photo]
Al Jazeera: What do you think has gone wrong with Somalia?
Yusuf: Usually, civil war happens in many parts of the world, but the main problem in Somalia is that there was no true reconciliation in the country after the civil war, and that gave the terrorist organisation a chance to do what they wanted. The absence of an actual democratic process has significantly contributed to the instability in Somalia.
Al Jazeera: Currently, drought and climate change issues are affecting Somalia. How do you plan to resolve this?
Yusuf: My understanding is that deforestation is the main reason for Somalia’s drought and climate change. I will develop a strict policy to address environmental destruction if given a chance. Cloud seeding is a modern way of addressing the drought and is one of my strategies in places. I will modernise the agricultural and livestock sector to provide enough food for the people.
Al Jazeera: What about addressing the matter of insecurity, which has been the primary challenge in Somalia?
Yusuf: I believe we can try to negotiate with al-Shabab and understand what they want. Resolving FARC rebels in Colombia and the war in Afghanistan through negotiation has worked.
Al Jazeera: You are contesting as the only woman in the race; what makes you different from other candidates? Do you think you will make it given the number of men in the race and the societal resistance to having women lead?
Yusuf: Yes, I will make it, and Somali women have potential if given a chance. I believe Somalia will be a peaceful and stable country under women’s leadership.
I am different because I dared to do it. I am the leader of a political organisation and realise that nobody can stop the women if they are willing to do [anything]. I want to be a role model for Somali women.
Al Jazeera: What are the challenges Somali women face in getting into leadership?
Yusuf: The challenges are many; cultural challenges surround the women. Women are the leaders in many countries worldwide, including Tanzania; therefore, cultural and religious discrimination against women only happens in Somalia.
For this country to prosper, we must get women in leadership.
WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean officially launches WHO emergency health response plan for drought in Somalia
WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean officially launches WHO emergency health response plan for drought in Somalia
Source: WHO, Thursday May 12, 2022
During his 3-day visit to Somalia, the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari visited North Galkacyo in Puntland state of Somalia to oversee WHO’s ongoing drought response activities, see the work of community health workers in delivering integrated health and nutrition services to the people displaced by the recent drought in Somalia and also visit one of the internally displaced population’s camps to see the challenges faced by the communities in meeting their health, nutrition, food and water and sanitation needs.
Laster on, he attended an event in Mogadishu where the WHO emergency health response plan for drought was officially launched which was also attended by HE Dr Fawziya Abikar Nur, the Minister of Health and Human Services of Federal Government of Somalia, Mr Jocelyn Mason, the United Nations Resident Coordinator for Somalia, ad interim and Mr Mugatte Guisse, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, ad interim.advertisements
The ongoing drought in Somalia and across the Horn of Africa is known to be the region’s worst one in the last 4 decades. In Somalia alone, an estimated 6.1 million people have been affected by the drought, of whom 759 400 have been displaced in search of water, food and pasture; 3.5 million lack sufficient access to water; 6 million continue to face severe food shortages, with approximately 1.4 million children facing acute malnutrition through 2022, including 329 500 likely to become severely malnourished; So far, a total of 3675 suspected cases of cholera and 2720 cases of measles have been confirmed since January 2022 from the drought-affected areas.
“Whenever natural disasters strike, diseases inevitably follow, particularly in fragile contexts. At all levels, WHO is leaving no stone unturned to support the people of Somalia to cope with the austere effects of drought,” said Dr Al-Mandhari. “As one of the first responders on the ground, WHO is working with the government, donors, and other UN agencies and health cluster partners to reduce the spread of diseases and complications related to malnutrition, while simultaneously rebuilding health systems to cope with similar calamities in the future.”
The WHO’s emergency health response plan for drought in Somalia for 2022, urgently requires US $35 million over the next 10 months to deliver emergency life-saving operations to reach over 2.5 million vulnerable people in the worst-affected parts of the country.
Dr Al-Mandhari explained that the drought response plan, which will serve as WHO’s blueprint for intensifying efforts to save more lives and cushion Somalis from severe forms of disease and malnutrition, was based on lessons learnt from past droughts in Somalia and would help to prevent epidemics, save lives, protect communities’ health and nutrition needs, and avert an additional health crisis. He also praised the Federal Government and UN partners for their collaborative efforts, emphasizing that the true essence of the Eastern Mediterranean Region’s Vision 2023 of “health for all by all” was in solidarity with the ongoing drought response work.
“WHO is responding to Somali families’ most dire needs, and is working to ensure every Somali household, including the most vulnerable, can access emergency life-saving support especially during emergencies. The WHO Emergency Health Response Plan for drought in Somalia calls for early action on a no-regret basis. It is imperative that WHO has access to flexible, smart and unearmarked funds to scale up our life-saving operations in the hard-to-reach areas to protect health and well-being of the people impacted by the drought” said Dr Mamunur Malik, WHO Representative to Somalia.
Somalia set to elect new president amid growing insecurity
Source: AP, Thursday May 12, 2022
Somalia is set to hold its long-delayed presidential vote on Sunday, ending the convoluted electoral process that raised tensions in the country when the president’s term expired last year without a successor in place.
Authorities have registered 39 presidential candidates, a list that includes incumbent Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, two former presidents, a former prime minister, several top officials and even a journalist. The field includes one woman, Fawzia Yusuf Haji Adam, a lawmaker who once served as Somalia’s foreign minister.advertisements
The vote will take place amid heightened insecurity as the Islamic extremist group al-Shabab, which opposes the federal government, continues to stage lethal attacks in the capital and elsewhere in the Horn of Africa nation.
With mortar shells and gun assaults, al-Shabab in recent months has repeatedly tested the defenses of the Halane military camp, which is protected by African Union peacekeepers. A suicide bombing Wednesday killed at least four, including two government soldiers, at a checkpoint near the heavily fortified airport area where lawmakers will meet Sunday to choose a new president.
The vote is behind schedule by 15 months and Somali authorities faced a May 17 deadline to hold the vote or risk losing key funding from international donors.
Somali polls are unpredictable, and it appears Mohamed — who is also known as Farmaajo — faces a tough battle for reelection. Mohamed has been locked in a power struggle with his prime minister, Mohamed Hussein Roble, over control of the government. Roble is not running for president, but behind the scenes he and other former leaders could play a decisive role in the outcome of the vote.
“A lot of issues are at stake. The most important thing is to oust the incumbent and unite all candidates against him, although he is aware his chances for re-election are minimal, unlike his predecessors,” said Mohamed Mohamud, a Mogadishu-based political analyst.
“There are disturbing phenomena that the incumbent can’t secure the required votes for his re-election, but he is determined to twist results for his preferred opposition candidate and attempt to prevent specific candidates from winning even if they are ahead in the polls,” he said.
Despite its persistent insecurity, Somalia has had peaceful changes of leadership every four years since 2000, and it has the distinction of having Africa’s first democratically elected president to peacefully step down, Aden Abdulle Osman in 1967.
Somalia began to fall apart in 1991, when warlords ousted dictator Siad Barre and then turned on each other. Years of conflict and al-Shabab attacks, along with famine, have shattered the country of some 12 million people.
The goal of a direct, one-person-one-vote election in Somalia remains elusive. It was meant to take place this time. Instead, the federal government and states agreed on another “indirect election,” with lawmakers elected by community leaders — delegates of powerful clans — in each member state.
All 329 lawmakers of both chambers of parliament are expected to vote by secret ballot on Sunday. To win in the first round, a candidate must secure two-thirds of the vote, or 219 ballots. Observers expect a second or even third round of voting for the four top candidates.
In addition to Mohamed, major contenders include former presidents Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, as well as Said Dani, the current president of the regional state of Puntland.
Somali elections are notoriously corrupt, and there have been widespread allegations of bribery beginning with the selection of lawmakers.
Mohamed’s four-year term expired in February 2021, but he stayed in office after the lower house of parliament approved a two-year extension of his mandate and that of the federal government, drawing fury from Senate leaders and criticism from the international community.
The poll delay triggered an exchange of gunfire in April 2021 between soldiers loyal to the government and others angry over what they saw as the president’s unlawful extension of his mandate.
Under pressure, Mohamed reversed the term extension and instructed the prime minister to engage with leaders of regional states to chart a fresh roadmap to the vote.
Whoever wins the election faces the urgent issue of insecurity, with al-Shabab fighters making territorial gains in recent months. The new president will also have to help ease tensions between regional states competing for limited resources, analysts say.
“We are hoping that the next president will be someone who can put the nation’s interest before his interest and lead the country towards peace and prosperity,” said Farhan Isak Yusuf, deputy executive director of Somali Public Agenda, a Mogadishu-based policy think tank and research group. “The decision is in the hands of lawmakers who are entirely independent and not loyal to any certain groups (but) frequently manipulated by money.”
USAID announces $6.8 million to boost rural education in Somalia
Monday May 9, 2022
The U.S. Embassy, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is proud to announce the Stabilization through Education Program (STEP) to increase access to education in communities affected by conflict. STEP is a $6.8 million initiative that will be implemented through the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Over the next 18 months, IOM will work with communities to rehabilitate more than 200 damaged classrooms and related school infrastructure, including boundary walls, latrines, and water systems. These efforts will support Somalia’s newly established Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP) for 2022-2026.
This latest announcement brings USAID’s ongoing investments in education in Somalia to nearly $71 million. USAID also supports the Bar ama Baro (“Teach or Learn”) accelerated basic education program and contributes to the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office’s Adolescent Girls Education in Somalia Program. USAID’s education initiatives will reach more than 160,000 children over the next three years.
U.S. Ambassador to Somalia Larry E. André, Jr.,said, “Investment in education is essential for Somalia’s revival. Education is a powerful driver of economic development and one of the strongest instruments to reduce poverty and improve health outcomes, gender equality, and long-term stability.”
STEP will target communities with limited access to education in hardtoreach and remote areas, bring communities together to develop community-based education plans, and rehabilitate or construct classrooms and school infrastructure.
Minister of Education, Culture, and Higher Education Abdullahi AbukarHaji stated,”As Somalia embarks on the journey of state building and reviving its institutions, the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Higher Education is at the heart of promoting peace and prosperity. The ESSP reflects the priorities of the Somali government, which seeks to deliver educational services throughout the country.”
IOM Somalia Chief of Mission Frantz Celestin added, “After several years working closely with local authorities to enhance stability, it is with great enthusiasm that IOM is supporting the Ministry of Education and USAID’s Bar ama Baro program to broaden access to primary education. This collaboration is made possible by communities and authorities working together in confidence to build a brighter future for the next generation. IOM is honored to be part of this effort.”
In alignment with the ESSP, the United States will continue to work with the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Higher Education and Federal Member States’ Ministries of Education to provide educational opportunities to outofschool children; those who are marginalized; and populations displaced by drought, conflict, and insecurity to build a strong, equitable education system.
Source: Newsweek published on 5 May 2022 a commentary titled “Biden Needs to Look Beyond the Military to Solve Somalia’s Security Crisis” by Marcel Plichta, University of St. Andrews.
Returning several hundred soldiers to Somalia removed by the Trump administration will not win the war against al-Shabaab and solve the country’s governance problems. The Biden administration needs to prioritize non-military policies to address Somalia’s security crisis.
Sunday May 8, 2022
The AfDB briefed donors on its new Country Brief for Somalia and the status of the Multi-Partner Somalia Infrastructure Fund (SIF). The briefing was chaired by Gabriel Negatu, Director General of the Bank’s Eastern Africa Regional Centre. Representatives from the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, UK DfID, USAID, High Commission for India, Delegation of the European Union to Somalia, and the French, Danish and Finnish Embassies participated in the meeting.
The new Country Brief builds on the Bank’s work in Somalia over the past few years and will be aligned to Somalia’s National Development Plan 2017-2019(link is external) by directly supporting the Plan’s goals of developing effective and efficient institutions, restoring strategic infrastructure, and building resilience. The pillars of the CB will position the Bank to tangibly deliver on its High 5s agenda in Somalia. The indicative project pipeline of US$ 110 million has been selected from the SIF project pipeline, which was approved by the Somali Development and Reconstruction Facility (SDRF)(link is external) in November 2016.
The Bank noted that since the establishment of the SIF in October 2016, the Fund has made good progress. Its first two projects – “Improving Access to Water and Sanitation Services in Somalia” and “Strengthening Institutions for Public Works” – were approved in December 2016 and are proceeding well, with disbursement rates for both projects at about 20%.
Key activities include finalising assessments for selected boreholes and mini-water system sites in different regions, with technical designs and bills of quantities prepared and submitted to the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources for approval. Training of Engineers in the Ministry of Public Works, Reconstruction and Housing on structural inspection of buildings has also been undertaken.
Donors present at the meeting provided brief updates on their ongoing and planned infrastructure operations in Somalia. The need to strengthen information sharing among all stakeholders was reiterated.
Finally, it was generally observed that rehabilitating and developing Somalia’s infrastructure is an ambitious agenda, but one that is attainable with the strong support of donors and other stakeholders.
Horn of Africa ravaged by worst drought in four decades
Tuesday May 3, 2022
Source: By Andres Schipani in Gode and David Pilling in Nairobi
Up to 20mn people could go hungry as delayed rains exacerbate fallout from war in Ukraine
Abdullahi Abdi Wali, 99 years old, at this tent at the Higlo camp for Internally Displaced People near the village of Higlo, Ethiopia, on April 27 2022 © Eduardo Soteras Jalil/FT
When the last of his 250 goats died, pastoralist Abdullahi Abdi Wali knew it was time to flee what he calls the “worst drought” in his 99 years of life.
“This is the first time I was displaced by a drought,” he said, looking back on his near-century in south-eastern Ethiopia.
After the death of his animals, Wali walked for five days under a scorching sun to reach a makeshift camp hosting 10,000 Ethiopian pastoralists outside the city of Gode, where they now receive food and water.
In the Horn of Africa as a whole, in an area stretching from northern Kenya to Somalia and swaths of Ethiopia, up to 20mn people could go hungry this year as delayed rains exacerbate what was already the worst drought in four decades.
After three consecutive rainy seasons failed and a fourth looks likely to do the same, crops have disappeared and more than a million livestock have died in Ethiopia’s south-eastern Somali region alone.
One more dry season could turn what is already a disaster into the worst drought in a century, locals say — just as the region is braced for what could be the devastating fallout of war in Ukraine. The conflict threatens not only to increase food prices but also to push the cost of fertiliser beyond the means of millions of farmers, threatening next year’s harvest.
“Globally, we are facing a year of unprecedented needs as conflict, climate shocks and the rising costs of food and fuel leave millions in need of humanitarian assistance,” said Michael Dunford, World Food Programme regional director for eastern Africa.
As temperatures rise globally, food security in the arid and semi-arid parts of the Horn are becoming evermore precarious, experts say. Although droughts are not new, they are becoming more frequent and severe. Since 2008, the area has registered a drought almost every year. In 2011, a famine in Somalia is thought to have killed a quarter of a million people.
Temperatures in parts of the Horn of Africa have scaled record highs. Over the past four decades, rainfall averages have continued to decline, with shorter and shorter rainy seasons.
Now the situation is so severe that local elders in villages in Ethiopia’s Somali region recount stories of half-starved hyenas, monkeys and warthogs attacking under nourished children for food. “We had to move the children to the city to protect them,” said Mohamed Dagane Digabe, a clan elder in the village of Gabia, almost 30km from Gode.
But for many, there may be nowhere to run.
“It is regional so options for migrating to neighbouring areas are not there,” Mustafa Mohamed Omar, president of Ethiopia’s Somali region, told the Financial Times. “Somalia is affected, Kenya is affected, parts of Oromia in Ethiopia are affected. We are sure such a drought is unseen in almost 50 years; people are even saying 100 years.”
The WFP is warning of outright famine in Somalia, where some 6mn people, or 40 per cent of the population, are facing acute food insecurity in a country where jihadi violence is rife. Some analysts say more people are fleeing hunger in the country than violence.
In Ethiopia, which is reeling from a brutal civil war in the northernmost region of Tigray — a conflict that had already left some 9mn people food insecure there and in nearby regions Amhara and Afar — an additional 7mn people now wake up hungry every day in the south and south-east regions, mainly Somali, according to the WFP.
Even in relatively prosperous and stable Kenya, the number of people in need of assistance has risen more than fourfold in less than two years, with drought leaving over 3mn acutely food insecure. “The unpredictable rain for semi-nomadic pastoralism, which supports most people in northern Kenya, makes this increasingly unsustainable.” warned Murithi Mutiga, Africa programme director at Crisis Group in Nairobi. “This will be a huge contributor to instability.”
At a ward dedicated to malnourished children at the general hospital in Gode, where doctors are tending to 2-year-olds who weigh half what they should, Mohamed Abdi Kassa, the medical director, said: “We are expecting more malnourished patients because the drought is not stopping.”
Dunford said: “There is absolutely a crisis unfolding before our eyes across drought-affected parts of the Horn of Africa. In Somalia there is a very real risk that we may see a famine in the coming months if we don’t have rains.” Without adequate funding, he added, humanitarian agencies would not be able to respond if the crisis spread. “People are going to die. It’s as simple as that.”
Over the next six months, the WFP alone estimates it needs more than $470mn to scale up assistance across the three countries. But after the economic cost of Covid, donors — distracted by the war in Ukraine – were unlikely to stump up sufficient funds, experts said. “Nobody’s got any money,” said one diplomat.
Anzel Arab holds her child Maido, 2 years old, as she talks with doctors in the nutrition ward at the Gode General Hospital, in the city of Gode, Ethiopia, on April 28 2022 © Eduardo Soteras Jalil/FT
Aid agencies are running low on crucial wheat stocks from Ukraine and Russia, two of the world’s top producers. In Ethiopia, the WFP and the government procure around three-quarters of the wheat they distribute from those two countries. Wheat prices from the Black Sea have jumped 67 per cent since last year, mainly due to Russia’s invasion of its neighbour.
“Things will get worse, largely because attention is now focused on bigger emergencies in Ukraine and conflict in the north of Ethiopia . . . resources are also going there and food prices are also rising globally,” added Omar.
Halima Mohamed Abdi, a mother of eight who recently settled in another camp outside Gode, is anxious about what lies ahead. “During previous droughts, if we lost the sheep, goats and cows, the camels would survive,” she said. This time, even camels, which generally endure droughts, are dropping dead.
“We are expecting support from government and aid agencies because, even if it rains, we have nothing left,” she said. “Without help, we would also die of thirst and hunger.”