In Somalia, the terrorists first carried out a series of actions – 6 in total – against police barracks and security garrisons in the southern and northern suburbs of the capital. Car bomb explosions followed by exchanges of gunfire characterised the early hours of the morning and the battle that has been fought for the base of Kahda is noteworthy. Attackers overcame defences; 5 people were killed and 16 wounded. 15 people were then killed in Beledweyne, where a suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt set it off in a restaurant frequented by local politicians and officials on the eve of the vote.
Among those who put forward their candidacy in this city, a stronghold of President Farmajo, is Fahad Yasin, former Director of the National Intelligence Services and now in the presidential circle as his National Security Advisor. After an initial suspension, Yasin was finally elected to the post on February 20th, by 76 votes to 24.
The serious security event cannot be unrelated to these dynamics and the clan-based violence that has characterised this area since 2020. On February 17th, a local police commissioner had died in a clash between police officers and elite military forces.
The expected conclusion of the electoral process remains on February 25th: 153 out of 275 MPs have been nominated so far. A little less than half of the seats are still to be filled, and at this stage the major matches are being closed, including those opposition candidates who aspire to run for President. Prominent members of the intelligence and security agencies will also serve in the Parliament, such as interim head Yassin Farey and former deputy head Abdullahi Kulane Jiis. The opposition denounces these events. The 5 seats in Banadir (Mogadishu) will instead be allocated on Monday February 21st.
Gen. Townsend, head of AFRICOM (the US military command responsible for Africa), also visited Somalia as part of a regional trip that also included Djibouti and Kenya. Further violent action occurred in Lower Scebelli, where soldiers embedded in AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia, currently being redefined) killed at least 20 terrorists in military operations.
Much debated was the conclusion (on February 15th) with Coastline – a company based in Houston, Texas, and already known to local and foreign news as Soma – of seven agreements for oil exploration in the offshore areas of Galmudug, Southwest and Jubaland. Prime Minister Roble has hastened to deny his Oil Minister Ahmed, saying that the permits are illegal. The authorisations may have been endorsed by the President despite a ban by Farmajo himself on international agreements at this stage.
Through his spokesman, the President denied any knowledge of the agreement, let alone favouring it. However, there is a clear desire not to exacerbate divisions at this point. New food aid has arrived to alleviate the effects of the drought – now affecting over 500,000 people. The latest initiative is from Germany through the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), worth $20 million.