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Somalia - Introduction

Somalia had no functioning government for two decades since the United Somali Congress (USC) ousted the regime of Maj. Gen. Mohamed Said "Barre" on January 27, 1991. The subsequent political situation was one of anarchy, marked by inter-clan fighting and random banditry, with some areas of peace and stability.

In the wake of the collapse of the Somali Government, factions organized around military leaders took control of Somalia. The resulting chaos and loss of life promoted the international intervention led by the United States, UNITAF. That operation was followed by the United Nations Operations in Somalia, UNOSOM, that was intended to bring an end to the political instability and to establish a working government. The events covered in the book and movie Black Hawk Down occurred during this time on 3-4 October 1993. UNOSOM ended in 1994.

Since that time, various groupings of Somali factions sought to control the national territory and have fought small wars with one another. Hussein "Aideed", and Ali Mahdi Mohamed, leaders of such factions, both claimed executive power in a new "government" based in Mogadishu. Mohamed Ibrahim Egal, first President of Somalia, was selected by elders as President of "Somaliland" which is made up of the former northwest provinces of the republic. As many as 30 other factions vie for some degree of authority in the country.

Efforts at mediation of the Somali internal dispute were undertaken by many regional states. Ethiopia has played host to several Somali peace conferences and initiated talks at the Ethiopian city of Sodere, which led to some degree of agreement between competing factions. The Governments of Egypt, Yemen, Kenya, and Italy also have attempted to bring the Somali factions together. In 1997, the Organization of African Unity and the Inter-Governmental Agency on Development gave Ethiopia the mandate to pursue Somali reconciliation.

The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) is the most recent in a series of 14 attempts to create a functioning government in Somalia since the end of Muhammad Siad Barre’s dictatorial rule in 1991. The TFG was initially hosted in Kenya, and first convened in Somalia in February 2006. Due to the tribal and warlord-driven political landscape of Somalia, the TFG has integrated a host of self-interested members into its ranks. The TFG does not posses a capable military body and is highly dependent on the African Union’s forces.

A transitional government, the components of which are known as the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs), was formed in 2004 in accordance with the Transitional Federal Charter. The TFIs include a transitional parliament, known as the Transitional Federal Parliament (TFP), as well as a Transitional Federal Government (TFG) that includes a transitional president, prime minister, and a cabinet known as the “Council of Ministers.”

Two regional administrations exist in northern Somalia—the self-declared “Republic of Somaliland” in the northwest and the semi-autonomous state of Puntland in the northeast. Several nascent regional authorities central Somalia—Galmudug, Himan iyo Heeb, and ASWJ-controlled territory—have maintained relative peace and order since 2011.

In 1991, a congress drawn from the inhabitants of the former Somaliland Protectorate declared a withdrawal from the 1960 union with Somalia to form the self-declared “Republic of Somaliland.” Somaliland has not received international recognition but has maintained a de facto separate status since that time. Its form of government is republican, with a bicameral legislature including an elders chamber and an elected house of representatives. The judiciary is independent, and three official political parties exist. In line with the Somaliland Constitution, Vice President Dahir Riyale Kahin assumed the presidency following the death of former President Mohamed Ibrahim Egal in 2002. Kahin was elected President of Somaliland in elections determined to be free and fair by international observers in May 2003. Elections for the 84-member lower house of parliament took place on September 29, 2005, and were described as transparent and credible by international observers. Somaliland held its last presidential elections in June 2010. President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud Silanyo was elected.

The area of Puntland declared itself autonomous (although not independent) in 1998 with its capital at Garoowe. President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole was elected by the Puntland parliament in January 2009. Puntland declared it would remain autonomous until a federated Somalia state was established.

On September 16, 2013 delegates from 50 countries across Africa, Europe and the Persian Gulf came together in Brussels to sign a ‘New Deal Compact’ to help rebuild Somalia, after two decades of civil war and lawlessness. The plan set out government spending priorities and future international support. The $2.7 billion included $870 million from the European Union, which has already given significant support to Somalia. Somali President Hassan Skeikh Mohamud said he welcomes the ongoing international engagement. “A remarkable transformation is being achieved in Somalia as the world recognizes we have the greatest opportunity, not without potential, in a generation - to reinvest in sustainable peace and development,” he said. Mohamud’s government is the first to receive official U.S. recognition since 1991.

Much of the EU funding had gone towards the African Union Mission in Somalia, known as AMISOM, comprising some 17,000 troops. Alongside government forces, the AMISOM troops were battling al-Shabab Islamist militants - a group linked to al-Qaida.

Since the establishment of the Federal Government of Somalia in September 2012, a large number of Somali diaspora returned to Mogadishu. The injection of diaspora resources into the city led to increased job opportunities and access to basic services such as schools and health facilities. However, it also resulted in an increase in land prices, which in turn was one of the reasons for the increase in forced evictions of displaced communities, as private landowners repossess their lands and properties. Evictions also continue as authorities are taking over public buildings, which displaced communities had occupied for years.

The volatile situation in Yemen led to a continued influx of people to Somalia in April and May 2015. On 13 May, the day after the start of the five-day ceasefire, a boat arrived in Bossaso in Bari region carrying about 1,700 people, according to UNHCR. The number of arrivals had risen to over 9,000 people within a few months. The vast majority were Somali nationals, many of whom had refugee status in Yemen. Somalia has also seen the repatriation of an unprecedented number of refugees from Dadaab in neighbouring Kenya. This has raised anxieties about Somalia’s ability to absorb returnees, given an internally displaced population already estimated at more than 1 million, and extremely fragile host communities. Efforts are underway, involving federal and federal member state authorities as well as the UN, to pursue durable solutions in this respect. Concerns are also increasing about the growing number of people – close to 5 million by 2016 – suffering from malnutrition and food insecurity.

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Page last modified: 20-11-2016 17:03:39 ZULU