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In Somalia, PM Roble’s institutional meetings continue, as if nothing had really happened

The new deadline for the conclusion of the vote in Somalia is February 25th, as set by PM Roble and local leaders. Tensions with President Farmajo are again below the alarm level.

Although still formally ‘suspended’, PM Roble continued with his meetings with regional state governors on the electoral process in Somalia. Roble has seen the Presidents of Banadir (Mayor of Mogadishu), Galmudug, HirShabelle, Jubaland, Puntland and Southwest; he has also taken up the concerns of opposition candidates and international partners about the elections. The situation remains on high alert in the confrontation with President Farmajo, but the most immediate elements of alarm have somewhat reduced.

The security apparatus remains essentially aligned with the Prime Minister, and this is the key element in cooling tensions. In any case, the temptation to use their influence and proximity as leverage to overpower the adversary must be avoided. A new appeal for calm came from Defence Minister Nur, addressed in particular to elements of the National Army. Elite troops – trained with Turkish support – are an element that can weigh in favour of the President, although their scope is structurally limited.

Neither contender, however, has an ‘End-of-the-World’ weapon to close the game with the other. The result is a fragile balance, made up of tactics and the search for further alliances rather than imminent acts of force. For example, the military pickets that were stationed at the entrance to the Prime Minister’s office and should have physically prevented him from being able to carry out his work have been removed, a sign of détente (and weakness) on the part of the President.

There was on the other hand an apology to the UAE for the 2018 seizure of cash at the airport: $9.6 million that Roble says will now be returned to the UAE, a decision Farmajo intends to block through the Central Bank. The affair precipitated relations with Abu Dhabi, but it would be wise now to mend this rift to the detriment of the Farmajo faction. The move is met with favour in Puntland and Jubaland; the UAE have just sent food aid to Somalia, to be used for the drought-stricken population.

The evolution is still shrouded in uncertainty, there are calls for Farmajo’s resignation, but avoiding an escalation remains the best interest of internal and external leaders. The parliamentary leadership, which would theoretically have power over both the Prime Minister and the President, is still silent.

In the end, the entire national political class benefits from the stalemate. It thus finds elements to further postpone the end of the transition period before the selection of the notables who will elect the next President is implemented. The new date for the end of the vote is now set for February 25th.

The crystallisation of the elements of contention has given everyone in 2021 a useful pretext to cover up the considerable delay in the process, thus to prolong the predatory economy linked to instability. Security incidents occurred in the interior and particularly in the south, with more serious events on the Kenyan side of the border.

Vincenzo Palmieri
Vincenzo Palmieri
Vincenzo Palmieri è un Senior Analyst per l’Africa dell’Institute for Global Studies, dove si occupa prevalentemente di Africa Orientale. Analista politico di una grande multinazionale, il suo ambito di esperienza professionale verte sull’analisi dei sistemi politici e delle dinamiche di crisi del Medio Oriente e dell’Africa.


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