EDITORIAL | Somalia’s history in 2020 could be an inspiration or disillusionment. And depending on who you ask, some people may be credited for leading to this brand or redirecting the country’s journey to an unknown area.
This week marks a milestone in particular for Somalia: The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) begins its planned troop command on 28 February, reducing the number by initially around 1,000. As recommended by UN Security Council Resolution 2472 of 2019, AMISOM was to begin a gradual withdrawal from Somalia and completely eliminate ground forces by the end of 2021.
It is predicted that every gap left by the outgoing AMISOM forces will be filled by local Somali national army forces, allegedly trained and equipped to withstand Al-Qaeda’s East African ally, Al-Shabaab.
Whether it would be seen next year can be discussed. But this week, Mr James Swan, the UN Secretary – General’s Special Representative for Somalia, told the UN Security Council that Al-Shabaab was still a capable militant group.
“Unfortunately, Al-Shabaab retains the ability to carry out major attacks in Mogadishu, including against the United Nations and the international community, and in the newly restored territories of Lower Shabelle,” Swan said on February 24.
“It is also capable of generating significant revenue through extortion as well as conducting operations outside Somalia’s borders.
The Somali Government, AMISOM and UNSOM (United Nations Office in Somalia under the leadership of Mr. Swan) prepared a joint threat assessment requested by the Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council. This assessment shows that Somalia’s power generation needs to be improved.
To be fair, Somalia has had good stories recently. It just qualified for debt relief for both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Under a program called the Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) initiative, Somalia is expected to benefit from a package that could go to great lengths to cut its government debt, now estimated at $ 5.3 billion, most of which are arrears from the 1980s.
This week, the IMF approved a $ 334 million debt relief package for Somalia, while the African Development Bank (AfDB) approved a $ 122 million donor-backed program. Somalia owes approx. 1.5 billion Dollars to multilateral lenders such as the IMF, the World Bank and the African Development Bank (AfDB), so it may take longer to complete debt relief or relief.
But these victories, claimed Finance Minister Dr. Abdirahman Beileh this week, will motivate the country to work on the demands “we have seen their benefits.”
Some of these benefits include e.g. Things like AfDB lifting the sanctions against Somalia, making Mogadishu eligible for project funding support, which is crucial for building roads, airports and utilities.
It also makes Somalia eligible for funding from other lenders, who often read multilateral lender reports about countries with a fine tooth comb.
But that’s not all. Sir. Swan told the UN Security Council that achieving debt relief was a welcome success. But Somalia also needs to hold elections to universal suffrage, finalize a federal constitution, defeat Al-Shabaab and consolidate the federal system.
Somalia has already adopted key legislation to strengthen fiscal governance, data collection and the electoral system. But there are still unclear problems.
“In order for Somalia to navigate the remaining challenges and reach its ambitious priorities, all of Somalia’s stakeholders must work together in the national interest,” Swan said.
“This responsibility begins with Somalia’s leaders. It is up to them to enter into dialogue in a spirit of national unity and to devote narrow political interests to strengthening Somalia’s state, security and prosperity. ”
However, it has been like this since May last year: President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo is trying to control regions, but the federal government accuses him of violating federal autonomies. On the other hand, there has been no consensus on the date of the election or even the type.
For example, the recent Electoral Code does not address the Code of Conduct, the nature of constituencies, how to ensure that everyone participates in elections, and the sensitive issue of participation in Northwestern Somalia.
Abdulmalik Abdullahi, a researcher in the Horn of Africa, states that the election can only be held if the federal government and federal member states can have a political solution.
“The center (the federal government of Somalia) and the periphery (Puntland and Jubaland) need to re-establish their relations,” he said, referring to the recent tiffs between the two regions and Mogadishu.
“There must be a joint mapping of electoral zones … The mapping of electoral zones will come in if the current model stipulated in the Electoral Act is to be used in a healthy way. If the 2016 model (or improved) is to be used, there is no need to map election zones, ”he added, referring to the one-person-one-vote proposal as intended or the collegial system used in the 2017 election.
But there has been so much bad blood between the center and the periphery. Some observers believe that Mogadishu should start seeing regions as stakeholders, not spoilers.
“The day of forcing or using disinformation and violence to govern is over,” argued Hamza Abdikadir Sadik, a political analyst in Mogadishu, on his Twitter page.
“They have been over for decades, but Villa Somalia refuses to learn the lessons that will lead us all forward. We (either) meet at the dialogue table, otherwise you will have a hard time enforcing illegal and unfair orders, ”he said, referring to the official residence of the President of Somalia.
The context was the recent deployment of SNA forces to Jubaland, apparently to protect the borders with Kenya, but considered by local authorities as interference. The United States has since opposed the deployment, warning that it could encourage al-Shabaab if its key partners turn to each other.
One of the reasons why this cooperation is necessary is to ensure that the weak National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC) can work across the country. As it is, the Commission is going wrong in Jubaland and Puntland, which means it cannot start any community education or even register voters.
However, some experts believe that Somalia’s external partners need to be aware of what can help Somalis. Abdullahi Hassan, a lawyer and researcher at Amnesty International, argued that the views of the international community have not always been the best, e.g. To emphasize a type of choice while ignoring important issues.
“I wondered why the IC (International Community) prioritized this in a country that is one of the worst human rights and humanitarian crises in the world,” he asked.
Should election 1P1V (one-person-one-vote) resolve food insecurity as a result of the locust invasion? Will it improve security in the country? Will it unite clans and end clan conflicts and the current political stalemate between the FGS (Federal Government of Somalia) and the FMS (Federal Member States of Somalia)? Will it address the IDP situation? He added, referring to the internally displaced people that Somalia is said to have 1.1 million of its total 15 million people, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
That seems to be what could cut Somalia’s tight ropes for the election.