EDITORIAL | Somalia’s history in the past month has been mainly about political disputes over the validity of the electoral roll plan and the officials tasked with overseeing the election.
But the forthcoming election faces a danger that everyone should unite against Al-Shabaab. For years and months, Al-Shabaab has often looked on and off. But every time they attack, they leave a huge declaration of loss.
Last week, Somalia lost a dedicated military officer after a suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance to Abdullahi Isse football stadium in southern Galkayo under the state of Galmudug in central Somalia.
Gen Abdiaziz Abdullahi Qoje was commander of the 21st Division of Somalia’s National Army. Maj Mukhtar Abdi Aden, was the commander of the Danab Central Region, the SNA’s special forces trained by the US military.
The two top SNA commanders and their junior colleagues met their graduation, and they oversaw security events at a stadium visited by Somalia’s Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble.
Cut off from their careers, their death means another blow to an army just trying to rebuild with the support of donors. In Galkaayo, the explosion killed ten in total and injured a dozen others. It also means that the Prime Minister’s intended message was severely limited.
Such is the brutality of al-Shabaab, which has been their currency constantly since they came on the scene in 2007. That they did it again means they can do it several times, and it should wake any leader to know what exactly is hurt the country.
Leaders should know that the terrorists, not other political rivals, pose a greater danger to Somalia than any other thing.
Somalia may have increased in recent years, but the security challenges facing the country cannot be denied. It is obvious that since 2017, when President Farmajo took office, the group has maintained its ability to strike at the center of the Somali government, especially when the minds of the leaders are concentrated on something else.
Farmaajo had promised to tame the group and even suggested talks to dissuade the youths from leaving the group. The fact that the attacks have continued means that such projects failed or were never carried out.
Nevertheless, this time the debate has been about the validity of members of the Federal Election Implementation Teams (FEIT), which approx. 14 opposition presidential candidates have described as biased and constitutional.
The blast occurred when Prime Minister Roble was ready to speak at a meeting as part of efforts to market President Farmajo for the second term. Of course, the federal government has indicated that the election will continue with the current FEIT, regardless of noise from the opposition.
The government can bulldoze through the program. But what it cannot achieve is to tame al-Shabaab alone. Several reports, including the UN Panel of Experts on Somalia, have confirmed that al-Shabaab no longer operates in the old way of smuggling.
Instead, al-Qaeda-linked extremists have infiltrated government units, blackmailed and taxed businesses more than the government itself, and still have forest areas in their hands.
If the Somali government continues to fight rivals, the chances are that Al-Shabaab will strike again and be a daily danger to us all. It is important that leaders sit down to iron out their disagreements so that their attention is not diverted from Al-Shabaab.