A suicide bomber launched himself against a minibus in Mogadishu (February 10th), in Somalia, causing ten victims and an unspecified number of wounded; the occupants of the vehicle, delegates from Somaliland who had come to the capital for the parliamentary elections, were unharmed. The event took place near the Presidential Palace and was claimed by Al Shabaab terrorists. A mortar attack against a polling station in Barowe in Lower Shabelle (February 9th) had caused four victims. Three people died and seven were injured in the explosion of an improvised device in a restaurant in Bosaso in Puntland.
In any case, voting is proceeding and should be completed by February 25th; 124 out of 275 MPs have been elected so far, about half of the total. The “right pace” has been reached, according to FIET (Federal Electoral Implementation Team) officials. The Team organizes logistics, and operations have begun in Hirshabelle also. Until now this region had no appointed MPs. That President Gudlawe was able to preside over a meeting in Beletweyne (February 12th), having reached a truce with the city’s notables and elders after more than a year.
Further targeted attacks remain, however, possible. These events are fully within the political dynamic. It is a federal authorities’ task to prevent them, but there is a palpable lack of confidence beyond the concerns about immediate security implications. Political leaders, especially from the opposition ranks, lack confidence or worse, advance plainly poisonous conspiracy accusations.
In fact, there are those who see a real responsibility of the State leadership in not effectively preventing this new wave of terrorist acts, insofar as they target rival factions or slow down an unwanted transition process. It remains to be hoped that the culmination of the competition will not be accompanied by a further spike in security events.
As for international politics, the official visit of Somaliland officials to Taiwan is noteworthy. Existing good relationships between Taipei and Hargeisa are confirmed, a way for both to differentiate themselves. The island pursues an African diplomacy in reaction to Chinese pressure to limit its international footprint; Somaliland has a parallel need to seek support abroad for its separatist cause. Since 2020, both host representative offices of their counterparts.
Further food aid arrives from the Emirates in Mogadishu (February 8th), to counter the effects of the severe drought that has pushed several people from the interior to seek refuge in the capital. The government has also strengthened in parallel the relations with Qatar and Turkey, both on the political-diplomatic and military side.