EDITORIAL: Somalia Wants Safety Company Cooperation Now

EDITORIAL | Somalia heads for much delayed and eagerly awaited elections this Sunday; having already overcome enormous amounts of challenges. And the credit could go to Somali Prime Minister Hussein Roble, who managed to stabilize the ship that appeared to be sinking earlier in the year.

Of course, these arrangements could never have been made if the federal states had chosen to go their way. They deserve credit for having chosen the best interests of the country at a time when the leaders of the federal government were playing to themselves.

The vote which begins this Sunday with the elections of the Senators will need this cooperation more than ever. Mr Roble was always looking for a consensus between the different levels of government, in particular on those responsible for the elections in Somaliland. A statement released by the prime minister’s office said officials were arguing; Outgoing President Abdi Hashi and Mahdi Gulaid, the Deputy Prime Minister, had “agreed on the way forward, although he did not specify how”.

North Western of Somaliaand Jubbaland had been the problem areas during this election. But we are happy to see that the reconciliation efforts have borne fruit. The biggest problem, however, is the issue of security. How the vote and the voters are protected will determine the credibility and fairness of that vote.

Reports of communication breakdown between the African Union mission forces and the Somali National Army are regrettable. Amisom, which has been around for 13 years, has had its share of blame and mistakes, but it has also helped liberate areas that were initially under al-Shabaab’s sway. As the Mission prepares to leave (or change, if Somalia accepts how), it remains crucial that it continues to cooperate on the continuing threat: al-Shabaab.

Al-Shabaab has in the past taken advantage of the lack of cooperation between the security forces to regroup and launch devastating attacks. An election and a lethargic measure to protect it could provide another fertile ground for the group to market its terror.

The federal government would have let the Somalis down if it had allowed this communication breakdown to persist in an election. The vote already faced risks of rigging and other irregularities, judging by frustrations over free campaigns and harassment by security agencies against opposition candidates.

This election is not even what the Somalis wanted. They had wanted universal suffrage where they could directly elect their representatives. The missed target is part of this federal government’s legacy. But there is a chance to correct ourselves by ensuring that the environment for the elections, the participation in this election and the counting of the votes are safe and transparent.

It must start and end with cooperation between agencies. It is incumbent on the Somali security forces to view the gaps in their capabilities now as an opportunity to cooperate with regional forces as well as with Amisom.

We may have some areas of concern about Amisom, but if their Election Guardian is helping the country, then we can do some good for them for now.


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