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.
On 14 June 2020, Djibouti hosted a new round of negotiations between the governments of Somalia and Somaliland under regional and international auspices after an interruption of nearly five years. The aim of the negotiations was to stir the still waters, proceed towards normalizing relations between the two sides, and agree on some unresolved issues between them, mainly the attainment by Somaliland of independence from Somalia, something which the latter continues to reject for fear of its future implications at home. This has constituted a challenge to the success of the talks at this round despite agreement on a number of items that could be built upon in the period ahead of continuing dialogue between both sides.
The recent round of negotiations has coincided with a distinct stage experienced by the Somali government in view of the elections to be held in late 2020 and amidst regional and international efforts that aim at reinforcing regional stability and maximizing strategic interests in the Horn of Africa without any of the parties gaining advantages at the expense of the other. This paper sheds light on the positions of local and international powers on the resumption of negotiations, the goals of the actors therefrom, and the chances of and challenges to reaching an agreement between Mogadishu and Hargeisa. It also attempts to foresee the future of this process and its reflection on the geopolitical scene in the Horn of Africa during the period ahead.
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.
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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