Update on the Intergovernmental Friction in Somalia and it’s Effects.March 2, 2022 in Somalia
Since 2012, Somalia has been recovering slowly from nearly 23 years of civil war. Within the government system, is the current electoral college which is designed to facilitate a peaceful transfer of power between outgoing and incoming governments. In recent months the President of Somalia, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and Prime Minister Mohamed Hussain Roble have been at the centre of a constitutional battle which has had wide reaching repercussions for national security.
With both figures commanding support from their own (regionally and ethnically loyal) elements of the Somali national security services, military and police, the disagreement between the two has unnecessarily drained resource and time away from the battle against Al-Shabaab and its affiliates. With neighbouring nations such as Kenya typically offering military and strategic support to Somalia, owing to its shared border and continual risk of attack from Al-Shabaab, the political impasse has seen a general rise in Al-Shabaab opportunism both domestically and in Kenya.
The Current situation
Despite a deepening political crisis in Somalia, in which the divide between the President and Prime had been worsening, the two leaders have announced that the previously postponed elections will now take place in February. In a move that will be seen internationally as a positive step to healing the divide, domestically it will likely allow for Somali defence forces and police to return their attention to fighting Al-Shabaab within their borders.
Al-Shabaab, continues to operate in the background of any political process. The group, which has been attempting to topple the country’s federal government for over a decade provides a continual destabilising affect through terrorism, intimidation and their ongoing propaganda efforts. While the group is known for disrupting the country’s election process, the current political uncertainty and a distracted government have amplified the impact and frequency of their attacks.
Future Prospects and Projections
It is in our best judgement that owing to the IMF threatening to cancel a four hundred million dollar package which pays for Somali military wages, there will be no more delays to elections. A cut of this size would be a disaster for Mohamed, Roble and Somali’s regional leaders, which threaten their control of the military. Owing to this, Somalia is likely on the road to holding the long-awaited elections this month, provided that a way through the current impasse can be reached. Further pressure from third party states will likely be applied to those who persist with actions that undermine Somalia’s stability and the prospects of getting to a quick election. Any failed attempt to control the forces and drivers acting against this, will likely prevent the successful journey to a democratic vote.
With the exception of Al-Shabaab and its affiliates, it is primarily in the Somali public’s highest interest at this time to see democratic elections take place. The population has dealt with severe drought and through the course of the COVID-19 pandemic has been increasingly marginalised.
Regardless of the outcome of any elections this month, we judge it highly likely that continued violent fighting between Mohamed, Roble and their affiliated groups will continue. The likeliness of this will increase if Mohamed loses these elections. Voting delays and subsequent infighting will likely continue into future elections unless Somalia’s electoral system undergoes significant reform.