Somalia: Gorfayn Weekly Briefs, Thursday 26 October 2023

Bihi
Minister of Finance, Bihi Iman Egeh, holds a press conference to discuss the country’s Debt Relief Program | Photo: MoF FB

Executive Summary:
This week in Somalia, tensions rose as the opposition accused President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of dividing the nation through unilateral policies amid the fight against al-Shabaab. Thousands fled towns over flood fears as heavy rains started. Hirshabelle’s vice president said the federal government undermines regional development after talks between Mohamud and a self-declared leader of Hiiraan state. However, Somalia made progress on debt relief through improved revenue collection, while cooperating with international institutions. In Puntland, the opposition rejected a new election timetable that extends the president’s term.
       On the security front, Somalia received non-lethal military equipment from the EU to aid the transition as ATMIS draws down. The army dislodged al-Shabaab from a new town during an offensive with casualties on both sides. Somalia and the US discussed their security partnership and operations against al-Shabaab. Finally, the UN provided helicopters to ATMIS forces to enhance capabilities against al-Shabaab as the second phase of the fight is set to begin. Overall, tensions persist amid election disputes and flood threats, but military cooperation continues against the extremist group.

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POLITICS
Highlights of the week:
       Somalia’s opposition accuses the president of ‘dividing the nation’ during a war time
Somalia’s opposition said President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s unilateral policies were dividing the war-torn Horn of Africa nation amid fight against al-Shabaab, Caasimada Online news website reported on Thursday. It came days after Mohamud stated that the country will have only two parties, a president and deputy president following a recent agreement with regional presidents that had proposed a number of controversial amendments to the war-torn country’s constitution. Opposition leaders, including former president, prime ministers, and parliament speakers decried the comments.

       Thousands flee Somali towns amid fears of floods
Many families have been displaced from several areas of Hirshabelle and Jubbaland amid fears of flash flooding by the Jubba and Shabelle rivers. Hundreds of families have left the cities of Beledweyne in the Hiiraan region and Luuq in the Gedo region which witnessed a heavy downpour as the autumn rains started in Somalia. In the Middle Shabelle region, a state of high alert has been put in the areas that have been affected by floods and rains in recent times so that people are not isolated there. Somalia’s National Disaster Management SODMA issued a warning saying that it calls on people to stay away from high-risk areas, especially areas where rivers and rainwater flow. It called for avoiding the many dangerous effects that people may experience if they do not show more attention and caution in the floods of the overflowing rivers from Ethiopia.

       Hirshabelle vice president accuses the Federal Government of undermining regional development
Hirshabelle Vice President Yusuf Ahmed Hagar said on Saturday that the federal government was undermining regional development, weeks after President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud held talks with the self-proclaimed leader of a parallel administration. Hagar said they would end their role in the fight against Islamist insurgents if the Federal Government continues its interference in the region’s political affairs. The comments came weeks after President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud visited the town of Mahaas and held talks with Ali Jeyte, the self-proclaimed leader of Hiiraan state. Jeyte announced breaking Hiiraan away from Hirshabelle state after authorities dismissed him following a long-standing dispute over revenue-sharing and taxes.

       Somalia boasts significant progress in improving its domestic revenue collection
Somalia’s Minister of Finance, Bihi Iman Egeh, held a press conference in Mogadishu on Sunday, where he discussed the country’s Debt Relief Program and the government’s efforts to manage Somalia’s debt. Minister Egeh stated that the government has made significant progress in improving its domestic revenue collection, which is a crucial component of the Debt Relief Program. He emphasized that the government is committed to ensuring the transparency and efficiency of public financial management. He also highlighted the importance of collaboration with international financial institutions and donor countries, expressing appreciation for the support Somalia has received.

       Puntland opposition rejects election timetable
Puntland opposition on Tuesday rejected a new election timetable issued by the electoral commission of the north-eastern Somali federal member state. On Monday, regional electoral commission said the presidential vote would be held on February 25, 2024, extending the term of the region’s incumbent president by one month. In a statement, opposition leaders described the move as an “infinite term extension” for Puntland president Saeed Abdullahi Deni. It comes weeks after the opposition threatened to oust Deni if he continued to insist on holding a one-man one-vote election, citing numerous challenges, including time and financial constraints.

SECURITY
Highlight of the Week:
       Somalia receives military equipment from EU
The Somali National Army (SNA) has received non-lethal military equipment supported by the European Peace Facility, including vehicles and trailers supporting SNA forces trained by the EU Training Mission in Somalia. The equipment, which includes Shacman trucks and Toyota Land Cruiser pickups, will help with the security transition as the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) draws down, according to the European Commission on October 17.

       Somali army dislodges al-Shabaab from a new town amid ground offensive
SNA forces, along with Southwest regional troops have carried out planned operations in the past few hours in areas under Waajid district in Bakool region. The allied forces clashed with al-Shabaab militants in the El Boon settlement, which is approximately 40 km to the northwest of Waajid town, and both sides suffered losses. The commander of the 60th division of the Somali National Army, Onkod Moalim Adan, confirmed that the area was taken over from al-Shabaab during the military offensive.

       Somalia, US discuss security partnership
Somali and US governments have discussed security partnership amid intense offensives against al-Shabaab in south and central Somalia. According to Villa Somalia, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has held talks with U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires A.I. Shane Dixon. The meeting which took place on Monday in Mogadishu, was also attended by Colonel David J. Haskell, the Joint Special Operations-Somalia Commander. The sides discussed the operations against al-Shabaab and potential security partnership.

       UNSOS provides helicopters to ATMIS
The African Union Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) troops, especially those from Burundi stationed in Somalia, have received helicopters from the United Nations Support Office for Somalia (UNSOS). UNSOS has provided three helicopters, including Mi-8 and Bell 412 types, to support the fight against the al-Shabaab terrorist group. The statement from UNSOS emphasizes the importance of these helicopters for enhancing the capabilities of the ATMIS mission in Somalia, particularly in responding to the security challenges posed by al-Shabaab. The second phase of the fight against al-Shabaab is expected to begin shortly, following the completion of the initial phase that has been ongoing in the central regions. This second phase involves troops from contributing countries taking part in the final stages of the operation to counter the ongoing threats from the extremist group.


With our keen focus on accurate, insightful, and comprehensive coverage, Gorfayn Weekly Briefs aims to keep you well-informed on the shifting dynamics of power, policy reform, security measures, and peacekeeping efforts, delivering a clear-eyed understanding of the complexities shaping the nation’s progress.

Rights
Copyright: Gorfayn (2023). This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC-BY-NC 4.0) that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work’s authorship and initial publication in this publication.

The Gorfayn Team
The Gorfayn Teamhttp://gorfayn.org
Gorfayn is your home for fact-based analysis on Somali politics, public policy, and security.

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