EDITORIAL: Safety lifts risk of fragile mutual belief in Somalia

EDITORIAL | Somalia’s outgoing federal government officials must satisfactorily clarify the security incident in which a convoy of former President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was shot in Mogadishu.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Custodial Corps, Somalia’s prison guards, saw shooting at Mrs Mohamud’s entourage. His allies have claimed it was an assassination attempt.

But whether we agree with that etiquette or not, it is something that the federal government should investigate and provide adequate information not only to Mr Mohamud but to the general public.

Coming just a week after stakeholders reach a useful deal to organize indirect elections, a shootout is an unwanted risk for that deal, especially if it involves a presidential candidate.

So far, the government has not helped after officials contradicted themselves. Justice Minister Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur called it “unintentional”. But General Mahad Abdirahman, the head of the guardian, refused to take responsibility. He claimed that his forces were attacked first.

This contradiction, rather than clarifying that there was no plan to attack the ex-president, has led to suspicions that the security authorities are still not under central control yet.

For Somalia, it could have serious consequences. Back in April, a fragmented army and politics created camps based on political and clan lines. The country had been on the brink, partly run by outgoing President Mohamed Farmajo’s then unprotected ambition to extend his term. That Somalia’s tension is decreasing is great because the stakeholders agreed to resume talks after Farmajo agreed to go back on the extension.

There has always been subtle mistrust, but seen through the appointment of election managers as well as the security regulations. Under Somali law, all former presidents must be given adequate security, which is the least Mohamud is required to do in his daily duties.

This is the second time an opposition leader has been targeted. Back in March, a hotel where opposition leaders lived at the height of tensions over delayed elections was attacked. At the time, the leaders demanded that villains involved in the attack be fired and prosecuted. After a series of discussions, the officers were rescued, but the federal government promised to provide a thorough investigation.

The shot on Wednesday can now raise a cloud of old dust. The Somali Federal Government has a sufficient obligation to investigate the matter and discourage opposition groups from believing that their lives are at stake.

During an election period, planned incidents can also have unintended consequences. And if the shooting was unintentional, the public may want to know how the government would otherwise prevent a recurrence.

The last works were scary for Somalia. It should be in everyone’s interest to protect the fragile trust that has arisen since last week when the leaders reached an agreement. Security will be an excellent catalyst for strengthening that trust.

Somalia’s institutions may be weak, but all stakeholders should be able to expect protection rather than exposure from the existing authorities.



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