The 48 hours that the Federal Election Team (FEIT) had suggested to regional governors to speed up the nomination process for Lower House deputies passed without much ado. The invitation was addressed to Puntland, Oltregiuba and HirShabelle, where the election is proceeding slowly and amidst obvious obstacles, to the attention of the oppositions.
However, 14 nominations were registered in Jubaland, 9 in Somaliland and 4 in Mogadishu. This is a positive sign, which allays some of the fears of the international donor community – expressed at a meeting on 15 December. Prime Minister Roble also wanted to personally solicit his local interlocutors, with a virtual meeting to discuss the procedures for the vote. Former Presidents Sheikh Mohamud and Sheikh Ahmed also took part from the opposition ranks, as well as Wadajir (“Solidarity”) party leader Abdishakur.
As further proof of Roble’s decision to proceed with the vote and smooth out the conflict with the opposition and the international community, it was announced on 18 December that seven members of the Electoral Disputes Commission, including the President of the Commission itself, had been removed. The Prime Minister found them guilty of failing to adequately consider and prevent the election of Yasin Farey, acting head of the National Intelligence Agency.
This move – perhaps agreed upon during the previous virtual meeting – was welcomed by the opposition, who hope to see in it a sign of a more neutral orientation of the supervisory bodies. On the other hand, they might regret Roble’s newfound prominence, which has deprived them of an issue potentially of great appeal to domestic and especially international public opinion. It still seems however difficult that the whole process can be concluded by 26 December, as promised. The potential risk, so far managed, remains that of an escalating confrontation with President Farmajo, who had endorsed Farey’s election.
The President was meanwhile in Ankara for the third Turkey-Africa Summit, heading a large delegation on a two days official visit. Farmajo met his counterpart Erdogan; other high-level meetings took place between the respective Foreign Ministers. They confirmed the Horn is the spearhead of Ankara’s political and security interest in Africa also through new economic ties, trade and investment flows in Somalia.
Tensions give prominence to the actions of Al Shabaab, indeed of a higher profile in the period considered – noteworthy is the assault on an AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia) base in Lower Shebelli, with a number of victims among the military, or the attack on the village of Eldheere in Galmudug, briefly fallen under terrorists’ control. These events do not change the profile of the threat, but they highlight a greater difficulty in this phase to contain its effects, particularly in the internal areas and on the border with Kenya. Here, a kidnapping of several dozen worshippers from a mosque was foiled, an event that denotes the criminal ramifications of the threat.