The current violence rocking Somalia is largely due to the failure of the country’s leaders to “prioritize the national interest” and resolve their political impasse.
The United Nations and international partners working to support a lasting peace and democratic election process across the troubled country said on Sunday, April 11 that they were highly concerned by the situation there, and urged them to resolve their political impasse.
UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) issued a statement on Tuesday, alongside international partners, strongly condemning the outbreak of violence in the capital Mogadishu. UNSOM is also urging all sides to “exercise maximum restraint, resume dialogue, and avoid unilateral actions that may lead to a further escalation”.
The African Union (AU), the European Union (EU); African regional trade bloc, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD,) and the UN, met on April 9, “in light of the gravity of the ongoing political stalemate in Somalia over the holding of delayed elections, and the continuing impasse in dialogue between the Federal Government and some Federal Member State leaders”, said a joint communique released following discussions.
The deadline for holding fresh parliamentary elections expired last December, and a planned one-person-one-vote presidential election has been delayed, until leaders can agree a way forward.
According to news reports, the current government led by Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, is no longer recognized by two of the five states, and his four-year presidential term has officially ended prior to an agreement over how to conduct fresh polls.
Following their deliberations, the international meeting – where the UN was represented by Political and Peace-building Affairs chief, Rosemary DiCarlo – reiterated their respect for the “sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and unity of Somalia”, and called for an immediate return to dialogue, “to seek compromise on the outstanding issues, and to ensure that no actions are taken that would undermine the stability of Somalia, which is critical to the maintenance of international peace and security.”
The AU, EU, IGAD and the UN, furthermore underscored that the 17 September Agreement of last year, where the president and the five regional leaders agreed a revised election model, “remains the most viable path towards the holding of elections in the shortest delay possible”.
The communique urged the Government and the Federal Member State leaders to review and validate the 16 February 2021 Baidoa Technical Committee recommendations and “seek agreement through compromise on any outstanding issues necessary for rapid electoral implementation”.
It called on international partners to find new ways to help leaders reach agreement, and avoid any “parallel process, partial elections, or new initiatives leading to any extension of prior mandates”.
The multilateral bodies expressed serious concern that the political stalemate, was “impacting negatively on peace, security, stability, and prosperity in Somalia and beyond”.
Partners called on Somali leaders to continue making progress towards State-building and a more inclusive politics, especially over elections and the path to a peace transition of power, as soon as possible.
In the mean time, media reports, fighting began on Sunday between pro-Government forces and opposition military units after President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed moved to extend his term last week which had officially ended in February, for another two years.
Reports from Mogadishu said that localised skirmishes have spread to other parts of the country, with fears growing that extremist group al Shabaab could exploit the divisions.
“We have repeatedly warned that the extension of mandates would lead to a political crisis and undermine peace, stability and security in Somalia”, the statement read.
Signatories to the statement expressed particular alarm over an emerging fragmentation along clan lines of the Somali National Army, saying that it detracts from the primary task of combating Al Shabab and protecting the Somali population.
“Use of security forces for pursuit of political objectives is unacceptable”, they spelled out.
The co-signers reiterated that the September 17 agreement, whereby the leaders of the Federal Government and all five Federal Member States approved an indirect electoral model for the country’s upcoming polls, “remains the only agreed model for elections” and on that basis, urged those signatories to “return immediately to talks”.
UNSOM and its international partners welcomed the decision of the African Union Peace and Security Council to appoint a Special Envoy and recommended that this high-level representative arrive in Mogadishu to begin work, as soon as possible.
“We stand ready as partners to extend our support to this envoy, and meanwhile we continue efforts to bring the parties together”, they said, reaffirming their “respect for Somali sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity, and independence”.
On Monday, the Spokesperson for Secretary-General António Guterres issued a statement of deep concern over the armed clashes, and reiterated the UN chief’s call for all Somali combatants to refrain from further violence and resolve their differences through dialogue and compromise.
“The Secretary-General urges all Somali stakeholders to resume negotiations immediately and forge an agreement based on the September 17 Electoral Model and Baidoa proposals”, the statement read.