2016 Somali General Elections UnlikelyJuly 31, 2015 in Somalia
On Wednesday, the UN envoy for Somalia insisted that the country was making progress, remarks that come just a day after the government stated that elections cannot be held as promised next year.
Nicholas Kay, the top UN diplomat in Somalia, stated that “the road to democracy is there, but 2016 will be a stepping stone short of full democracy.” Kay further indicated that the announcement, which was greeted with dismay in Somalia, was “no surprise,” adding, “it’s a reality we’ve been staring at for quite a while.” Kay spoke on the sidelines of the so-called High-Level Partnership Forum, a meeting of Somali and foreign delegates, which was held in the capital on Wednesday and Thursday. Kay described this week’s meeting as “the largest international meeting in Mogadishu in modern times” with discussions of what will happen in 2016, when the current government’s four-year mandate expires, at the top of the agenda. Kay also indicated that the process of state-building, after decades of civil war and anarchy, and the creation of a federal rather than a centralized administration “is going well but has taken longer than expected.” The last forum was hosted in Copenhagen.
On Tuesday, the Somali government admitted that insecurity and a lack of political progress meant that there cannot be “one man, one vote” elections in 2016 as were envisaged by the UN, foreign diplomats and the government itself. In a statement, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud disclosed that national elections are impossible amidst rampant violence that has been planned and carried out by al-Shabaab. The president denied the opposition’s allegations, stating that his government intends to focus on a review of the Constitution as well as building a strong national army. Mohamud’s term is due to expire in August. Elected in 2012, Mohamud’s government has struggled to assert its control across the country. While al-Shabaab militants have been driven out of the major strongholds over the years, they still control some parts of rural Somalia, particularly in the southern region of the country, and continue to carry out hit-and-run attacks in Mogadishu. What the electoral process may look like will be decided by the end of the year, with the Somali government due to hold public consultations before presenting proposals to the international community in early 2016.
Meanwhile late on Wednesday, the UN Security Council passed a resolution, which effectively authorizes until May 2016 the deployment of the 22,000-strong African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which is fighting al-Shabaab and protecting the government. The same resolution also extended the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), which is headed by UN envoy for Somalia Nicholas Kay, until March 2016.