Somalia - Politics
The Federal Government of Somalia, formed in 2012, was led by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. Clan elders nominated the members of the House of the People of the Federal Parliament in 2012. Parliament elected Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as president later that year. Former Transitional Federal Government (TFG) president and presidential candidate Sheikh Sharif described the presidential vote as fair and conceded defeat. The regional governments of the self-declared Republic of Somaliland in the northwest and Puntland in the northeast controlled their respective jurisdictions.
In July 2015 the government established the Interim Galmudug Administration (IGA) in the central part of the country. The IGA, the Interim Juba Administration (IJA), and the Interim South West Administration (ISWA) did not fully control their jurisdictions. The terrorist organization al-Shabaab retained control of some towns and rural areas but by year’s end lost control of the key cities of Bardheere and Dinsoor and several other towns and villages in the south and central regions to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali security forces. Civilian authorities did not maintain effective control over the security forces.
Government security forces and allied militias, persons wearing uniforms, regional security forces, al-Shabaab, and unknown assailants committed arbitrary or unlawful killings. Government and regional authorities executed persons without due process. Armed clashes and attacks killed civilians. Impunity remained the norm.
The provisional federal constitution states that the armed forces are responsible for assuring the country’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity and that the national federal and state police are responsible for protecting lives, property, peace, and security. Police were generally ineffective. AMISOM and the SNA worked to maintain order in areas of the southern and central regions. The federal government regularly relied on NISA forces to perform police work, often calling on them to arrest and detain civilians without warrants. Some towns and rural areas in the southern and central regions remained under the control of al-Shabaab and affiliated militias. The Ministry of Defense is responsible for controlling the armed forces. Police forces fall under a mix of local and regional administrations and the government. The national police force remained under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of National Security, while regional authorities maintained police forces falling under their areas’ interior or security ministries.
Civilian authorities did not maintain effective control of security forces. Security forces abused civilians and often failed to prevent or respond to societal violence. Authorities rarely investigated abuse by police, army, or militia members, and a culture of impunity was widespread. Authorities sometimes used military courts to try individuals believed to be responsible for abuses. The official ad hoc commissions to investigate abuses by federal military forces and allied militias in the Lower Shabelle Region did not release information regarding the investigation.
The provisional federal constitution prohibits torture and inhuman treatment. Nevertheless, torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment occurred. The UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea (SEMG) reported it received allegations that National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) officials committed torture. NISA agents routinely carried out mass security sweeps, despite having no legal mandate to arrest and detain suspects. NISA held detainees for prolonged periods without following due process and mistreated suspects during interrogations. For example, on May 25, NISA agents arrested journalist Ali Abdi “Yare” for allegedly criticizing the government. Ali Yare was kept in detention incommunicado without access to legal counsel for at least a week. He was later released but continued to face harassment from government security authorities.
There were several cases throughout the year of al-Shabaab abusing and imposing harsh punishment on persons in areas under its control. For example, on September 28, al-Shabaab stoned to death a woman accused of adultery in Barawe. Al-Shabaab also beheaded three men on September 14, in Yiblan, Hiraan Region, for allegedly being SNA members. Local community members claimed the men were herders and had no association with the armed forces.
The Ministry of Defense’s control over the army remained tenuous but somewhat improved with the support of international partners. At year’s end the army consisted of approximately 23,000 soldiers, with the bulk of forces located in Middle Shabelle and Lower Shabelle, as well as the Bay, Bakool, and Gedo Regions. The Ministry of Defense exerted greater control over forces in the greater Mogadishu area, extending as far south as Merca, Lower Shabelle Region, west to Baidoa, Bay Region, and north to Jowhar, Middle Shabelle Region. SNA forces consisted of 17 independent brigades. Army forces and progovernment militia operated alongside AMISOM in areas where AMISOM deployed.
Two separate police forces operated in Mogadishu, one under the control of the central government and the other under the Benadir Regional administration. The federal police force maintained its presence in all 17 districts of the capital. Police officers in Mogadishu often owed their positions to clan and familial links rather than to government authorities. AMISOM-formed police units complemented Benadir and federal government policing efforts in Mogadishu. These police officers provided mentoring and advisory support on basic police duties, respect for human rights, crime prevention strategies, community policing, and search procedures. More than 300 AMISOM police officers worked alongside the formed units to provide training to the national police.
The cycle of violence, drought and rising food prices in Somalia continue to have devastating consequences on the Somali people. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), over 3.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. Malnutrition has reached alarming levels. The overall rainfall levels recorded during the April-June 2014 rainy season were less than half of normal levels. There are about 1 million Somali refugees and over 1.1 million internally displaced people.
On 25 March 2016, the President of the Interim Jubba Administration, Sheikh Ahmed Islam “Madobe”, and opposition leaders from the Marehan subclan announced an important reconciliation agreement in a 10-point communiqué in which, among other things, the parties committed themselves to a fair distribution of positions for all Juba clans and further militia integration. Pursuant to the agreement, some 50 armed members of the Barre Hirale militia returned to Kismaayo. The agreement also paved the way for the formation of a new Interim Jubba Administration Cabinet. Meanwhile, the Interim South-West Administration regional assembly, which is 21 per cent female, held its first plenary session on 10 March under the leadership of the Speaker, Abdulkadir Sharif “Sheikhuna”.
In Mudug, plans for a reconciliation conference between the Galmudug Interim Administration and the group Ahl al-Sunna wal-Jama’ a were put in place with the support of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and funding from the United Nations. The conference will seek agreement on the power-sharing, reintegration of security forces and the establishment of the Galmudug Interim Administration capital in Dhuusamarreeb, which is controlled by Ahl al-Sunna wal-Jama’a. However, the start of the conference was delayed by internal clashes within Ahl al-Sunna wal-Jama’a.
The process to form the only remaining federal member state in Hiraan and Shabelle Dhexe faced challenges. A state-formation conference that had been launched on 12 January 2016 in Jawhar, Shabelle Dhexe, encountered serious difficulties over clan representation and was boycotted by a major clan. Repeated visits by senior federal officials, including the President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, did not succeed in resolving the issues, although the state-formation conference was re-launched on 12 April 2016. UNSOM continued to use its good offices to facilitate a Somali-brokered solution
In Somaliland, the political scene continued to be dominated by preparations for the Somaliland presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for March 2017. On 16 January, the National Electoral Commission launched a biometric voter registration process that was later temporarily suspended owing to the continuing drought. Meanwhile, no progress was reported on talks between the “Somaliland” authorities and the Federal Government.
Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, better known as "Farmajo," won the Somali presidential election. Incumbent leader Hassan Sheikh Mohamud conceded defeat 08 February 2017 after two rounds of voting by the Somali parliament in Mogadishu. Farmajo won the largest share of votes in the second round, easily outdistancing Mohamud and former president Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. Farmajo previously served as Somali prime minister during 2010 and 2011.
Somalia's new president picked an oil executive and former aid agency director on 23 February 2017 to be the country's next prime minister. Hassan Ali Khaire will face the task of strengthening Somalia's shaky central government and stabilizing a country struggling with severe drought and Islamist militancy. Khaire spent the past two-and-a-half years as Africa director for the British energy company Soma Oil & Gas. From 2011 to 2014, he was the Horn of Africa director for the Norwegian Refugee Council. In 2013, Soma was contracted by the Somali government to conduct oil and gas exploration off the coast of Somalia. Britain's Serious Fraud Office investigated the company after U.N. monitors accused it of bribery, but the fraud office cleared Soma, citing insufficient evidence.
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