On Sunday, 15 May, the United Nations (UN) in Somalia welcomed the conclusion of Somalia’s presidential election, praising the ‘positive’ electoral process and the peaceful transfer of power. Hassan Sheikh Mohamed defeated Mohamed Abdullahi ‘Farmazzo’ to become the new President of Somalia. The election was projected to be a key moment in advancing the long-awaited priorities in Somalia related to peace and stability. “I would like to congratulate the newly-elected President Hassan Sheikh Mohamed on his victory tonight,” said James Swan, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, while UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed hope that the new president will speed up. Will move forward Create an inclusive cabinet and the new government and the federal state work together to advance important national concerns. However, from the need for long-term political stability to immediate security challenges, the Mohammed administration has cut back on its work.
In March alone, 48 people were killed in central Somalia in two suicide bombings, while an attack on the first AU base in May killed ten Burundian peacekeepers. Al Jazeera reported that the attack was “the deadliest attack on AU forces in the country since 2015”. President Mohamed took office in 1991 over a nation that has endured conflict and clan fighting with no strong central government since the fall of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre. The government has little control over the capital, and the au dal maintains an Iraqi-style “green”. As such, the stakes are high for the Somalis going ahead with last week’s election. This report will examine the prospects for meaningful peace and security progress in Somalia after the election.
Key issues and why they persist
There are myriad contributing factors within and outside the country to Somalia’s long-standing conflict with conflict and instability. From colonial legacies, clan conflicts, terrorism and unfavorable environmental conditions, the incoming Mohammed administration has much to offer. Since the fall of the Somali state in 1991, no administration has been able to form a government uniting Somalia’s many constituencies and interest groups. Perhaps it is for this reason that the Special Representative of the European Union (EU) for the Horn of Africa, Annette Weber, stresses the need for Somalia first and foremost to reach a political settlement. She claims that “an agreement forms the basis of agreement on issues relating to the federalization process and the rule of law. It will also lay the foundation for constitution making and state building.” Weber’s point of view is supported by evidence focused on Somalia by Human Rights Watch (HRW) in its 2022 World Report. HRW found that “all sides of the conflict in Somalia violated international law, some amounting to war crimes.” HRW highlighted to the Islamist group al-Shabaab that they carried out “indiscriminate and targeted attacks on civilians and forcibly recruited children.” Equally condemned is “inter-clan and inter-Security Forces violence”. , which killed, wounded and displaced civilians as sporadic military operations against al-Shabaab by Somali government forces, troops of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and other foreign forces including the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) .
As a result, progressive reform has stalled. The government has failed to pass a federal law on sex crimes or a major child rights law. As of 2022, Somalia has yet to establish a National Human Rights Commission, pending since 2018. The link between a weak, divided state rife with conflict and the slow pace of political progress is clear. Building on a strong foundation by bringing Somalia’s warring factions together in a political settlement will be President Mohamed’s biggest challenge ahead of May’s election. However, we must also consider the impracticality of applying Western-style ‘one size fits all’ policy prescriptions to Somali reality. In his master’s (MA) thesis at the University of New York-Buffalo, former President Farmajo writes of European colonists on the issue, “He introduced not only a central, federal authority for the nomadic peoples in Somalia; he also introduced a multi-party democratic Promoted a system of government based on the system. It was completely foreign to Somali pastoral society.” Here Farmajo makes clear both the need for a unified political settlement and, importantly, the need for that agreement on Somalia’s terms.
While counter-terrorism garners much media attention, these political issues are at the root of Somalia’s struggle for peace and security. No injection of soldiers can bring stability. Military intervention often produces the opposite. Tunde Osazuwa, an activist and researcher with the Black Alliance for Peace, noted that the Africa Center for Strategic Studies—a Pentagon research institute—found that “extremist Islamist group activity in Africa has doubled since 2012” because of AFRICOM’s presence on the continent. has deepened. In other words, Washington’s nominal counterterrorism has done little to empower terrorists. Foreign participation will continue to produce these results until a consensus is reached that empowers the various Somali constituencies with the confidence that their views will be represented and that leaders will be held accountable for their actions. This requires making room for regional power centers to coexist under a federal system. Navigating these obstacles is critical to building toward sustainability.
May’s elections still bring possibilities of change. First, the massive conflict in Somalia in 2021 was caused by a delay in elections, where parliament on April 25 extended the presidency by two years. In response, armed clashes broke out between security forces belonging to various political factions in different districts of Mogadishu. The result was that between 60,000 and 100,000 people were displaced according to the United Nations. Thus, the election, along with a peaceful transfer of power, sets the stage for President Mohamed to form a national unity government. It is important that conflicting political groups in Mogadishu are aware that violence is unacceptable and will not be rewarded. In addition, the Mohammedan administration should strive to ensure that different voices are heard and represented in the new government, as there is a link between violent rebellion and a sense of powerlessness and under-representation.
To achieve this, Somalia’s institutions must be seen as legitimate and just from both punitive and democratic perspectives. This is the main issue for many people here in Somalia. Despite the peaceful transfer of power, most of the 36 presidential candidates were old faces, whom many considered to have done little to prevent war and corruption. This leaves Somalis with the feeling that the changing hands of money determines political power rather than the popular vote. Given Somalia’s electoral system, this mood is perhaps appropriate. The clan elders choose the representatives, who then choose the 275 members of the House of Representatives and 54 members of the Senate. Once appointed, these MPs vote to elect the next president, who in turn chooses a prime minister. After this, the Prime Minister appoints the cabinet and forms the government. What becomes clear from an analysis of this arrangement is that even after May’s peaceful election, Somalia remains in the clutches of the clan elders and political elite.
The people, at all times, remain unaffected by a system in which one person, one vote, has not been elected for decades. Given this evidence, reaching a political settlement representing the population, settling a dispute among an insular elite, and laying the foundation for a credible security mechanism is likely a long way off. It is unrealistic to expect President Mohamed to repair Somalia’s democratic deficit during his tenure. Still, there are opportunities to build bridges, which hopefully can reduce violent clashes. A promising early sign is that Farmajo called for unity in his concession speech. “Let us pray for the new president; It is a very tedious job,” he said. “We will be in solidarity with him.” This reflects an appetite for reconciliation, while Somalia’s international partners remain committed to cooperation. Somalia needs this optimism and teamwork on the long road ahead.