A bomb exploded in Mogadishu, in Somalia, and injured three Turkish citizens and their Somali driver; the event was claimed by Al-Shabaab terrorists. Other violent events took place in Gedo, where 10 Kenyan soldiers were killed and five of their comrades wounded in the explosion of a device triggered as their convoy passed by.
The erratic trend of terrorist attacks was confirmed. Violent events were more contained in this phase after the peak of violence in late February and the first half of March. As for piracy, it is noteworthy that the UN Security Council decided not to renew anti-piracy operations to be conducted in Somalia’s national waters. Ongoing international law enforcement operations will continue on the high seas only. This is a partial victory for Mogadishu that long claimed that the reduction of criminal events should have had security responsibilities be transferred to national Forces.
After the March 15th deadline for the conclusion of the process of appointing deputies to the Lower House, the picture is complete for Banadir, Galmudug, Somaliland and Southwest. Of the total 275 seats, 39 remain vacant among Hirshabelle, Jubaland and Puntland. The deadline has therefore been extended to March 31st, with the subsequent swearing-in in Mogadishu on April 14th. The extension will also push back the election of the Speaker of Parliament and then that of the President, bringing them towards May.
Hirshabelle, Jubaland and Puntland are the federal states that have the most tense relations with the federal authorities and in particular with President Farmajo. In this regard, it has been confirmed that the dispute is not so much on individual seats, but rather on the possibility of being able to indicate people who can then guide the presidential appointment, preventing in particular a re-election of Farmajo himself. Despite the many criticisms he received over the last two years, the outgoing president still has his good chances.
The list of candidates is growing, with new entries. The latest in chronological order is that of Puntland President Deni. The proliferation of candidates may, on the other hand, weaken individual leading figures. The contest is now tending to become more transactional, i.e. a game of announcements and probable future withdrawals linked to the approaching presidential vote.
At the international level, the mission of Somaliland President Bihi to the United States has caused some concern. Faced with the suspicion that he might be advocating the cause of independence, the State Department reiterated its position on talks that take place within the framework of a united Somalia.
China, meanwhile, announced the delivery of 35 military vehicles of various types – from transport vehicles to ambulances – to the Somali Armed Forces, to support their efforts to combat terrorism. Food aid will also be delivered from Beijing in support of drought-affected populations, a persistent problem that also sees a new contribution from Qatar.