Al Shabaab terrorism returned to the capital of Somalia with a car bomb attack (January 12th), which exploded as a convoy passed near the international airport. According to local sources, there were 10 victims, five of whom were members of the convoy escort; 14 were injured. On January 16th, a suicide bomber targeted the vehicle of the Government spokesman Moalimu, who survived the attach though seriously injured.

The United Nations Mission denied that any of its employees or contractors were among the passengers in the convoy, which carried the deputy mayor of Mogadishu. Together with the attack on Moalimu, the events give rise to suspicions of a link between the jihadist violence and the still unfolding electoral events. They are expected to be concluded by February 25th.

International donors are becoming more and more restrained in this regard, first and foremost the United States. There is a more direct threat of restrictions or targeted sanctions if the voting process is extended further. The declarations do not explicitly mention any of the leaders of Somali politics, but instead refer to “all national and federal leaders”, who share responsibility for a delay that has now exceeded a year.

In any case, there was a meeting between the new Defence Minister Nur and the acting US Ambassador Crenwelge, to reiterate the need for support from Washington on security issues. A subsequent meeting involved Foreign Minister Muse Ali and Italian Cooperation Director Maestripieri, to discuss reconstruction and economic ties. Farmajo exchanged a phone call with the President of the Libyan Presidential Council, Al-Menfi, to thank him for the repatriation of 97 migrants detained there.

Farmajo publicly endorsed the new electoral calendar and the deadline agreed by the PM and regional leaders. He did not hesitate to call for its swift and full implementation, applauding the National Advisory Council, though not Roble who chaired its work. The latter has convened a Council of Ministers dedicated to speeding up the vote, a new Federal Electoral Implementation Team (FEIT) Chairman has been appointed and greater speed does indeed appear possible. Southwest State announced it had started the appointment procedures for five MPs.

Full compliance with the deadline, however, remains difficult. The new FEIT President Gelle was elected by a majority of 14 votes to 10, a sign of internal rifts within the Commission that may cause further delays. The weakening of the President himself after the last failed push on Roble may bring back calls for his resignation from the opposition, or for an investigation into his actions.

Of the two impulses to conclude or postpone the vote, the latter now has somewhat a greater appeal. This can still generate pressure in the opposite direction in Somalia and abroad.


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