The Somali-based Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen (Al-Shabaab) organization has been dramatically expanding its activities in Kenya since the start of the year. In January the group attacked a US airbase, and in April it killed six soldiers in the northeast of the country. Despite continued US strikes against the group’s strongholds, Al-Shabaab has continued to step up its operations, especially in northeastern Kenya.
On 13 March 2020, Salva Kiir Mayardit, the President of South Sudan, issued a presidential decree to appoint members of the Transitional Government of National Unity in accordance with the terms of the peace deal. This development paved the way for the debate between those who see it as a real step towards the implementation of the peace deal and the restoration of security and stability and those who consider it a mere response to external pressures, an attempt to buy time, and the deferral of an imminent clash because of which the country could relapse into overall civil war.
Preparations are underway to hold the presidential and parliamentary elections at the end of 2020 and beginning of 2021 in Somalia. A new draft electoral law has been developed by the Ministry of the Interior after consultation with the five federal states and the parties concerned. It was then approved by the Council of Ministers and both chambers of Parliament, to be ratified by President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo in February 2020. Holding elections in a federal country with weak institutions in both the centre and the periphery constitutes a completely new adventure. The political scene lacks federal states that are united, strong and capable of negotiating. Neither is there a strong centre that is capable of delegating some of its powers to the periphery. On the contrary, there is a federal government that has failed to take control of many areas and that acts as if it is in control of the whole of Somalia. In contrast, there are regional states that are weak and incapable of properly controlling the areas where they are located. This paper aims to analyze the political process in Somalia, monitor the main influential actors at the current political scene, and build potential scenarios for those elections.
Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen, more commonly known as Al-Shabaab, remains the main security challenge in Somalia and one of the most significant threats to regional stability and security in the Horn of Africa given the recent uptick in the group's activity in Somalia and its growing expansion in the region. The terrorist attacks launched by the group are now claiming the lives of more civilians, military and government officials. This is in addition to targeting government interests and institutions inside and outside Somalia, which places a significant burden on the countries of the Horn of Africa and regional forces due to the risks and threats posed by the group.
Somalia is on tenterhooks following the approval by Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo of a new elections law, based on the principle of “one person, one vote”. Views among the country’s political forces vary, with the law already having faced a wave of criticism and calls for its reconsideration on the grounds that it is not suited to the current political, economic, and security conditions. The government and the political opposition in Somalia are highly polarized at a time when the country is preparing to hold its first direct elections at the end of 2020. Such polarization has led to further speculation about the future of the elections and of the president’s regime in the coming period.
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