Expected Council Action
In September, the Council will consider the Secretary-General’s 120-day report on Somalia. The Council is also expecting the AU to submit a report on the implementation of the AU Mission in Somalia’s (AMISOM) mandate—the first such report to be received since 2013. Special Representative of the Secretary-General Michael Keating is expected to brief the Council, followed by consultations.
The UN Assistance Mission in Somalia’s (UNSOM) mandate expires on 31 March 2017; AMISOM’s mandate expires on 31 May 2017.
Key Recent Developments
Somalia continues to prepare for elections later this year. The National Leaders Forum (NLF) held a meeting in Mogadishu from 2 to 9 August to finalise the pending issues on the implementation of the 2016 National Electoral Process. A communiqué issued following the meeting said that “due to the existing circumstances, it is not possible to hold elections within the remaining period of the term of office for the current government institutions of the Federal Parliament and the President”, which was set to end on 20 August. To avert an institutional vacuum in the constitutionally mandated institutions, the NLF authorised the current officials to remain in office until the results of the elections are announced. It endorsed a timetable for the upcoming elections, according to which voting for a new federal parliament will be held between 24 September and 10 October, and the president will be elected by the new parliament on 30 October. The communiqué also addressed the finalisation of the constitutional review, the transition away from the clan-based 4.5 voting system following this year’s election (this system gives an equal share to each of the four major clans while a coalition of smaller clans gets half a share), the allocation of seats for women in parliament, the representation of minority communities, the electoral process and college for the various sub-clans inhabiting the Banadiri area, voting criteria and other issues.
On 19 August, the Council—which had said in resolution 2232 of July 2015 and subsequent press statements that it expected no delay in the holding of elections planned for August—adopted a presidential statement in response to the new electoral schedule. While expressing its regrets about the delay in the electoral process, the Council welcomed the meeting of Somalia’s NLF on the implementation of the 2016 National Electoral Process and the continued political and security progress in Somalia since 2012. The statement also underscored the need to maintain the momentum towards democratic governance, with an inclusive and credible electoral process in 2016 as a stepping stone to universal suffrage elections in 2020.
The Council noted the consensus decision of the NLF to extend the timeline for the parliamentary and presidential elections to allow for the implementation of the technical modalities that will facilitate an inclusive process, as envisaged by the National Consultative Forum in the Mogadishu Declaration of 16 December 2015. The statement regretted the delay of the original timeline and called on all Somali stakeholders to work constructively to implement the revised calendar. It also noted the NLF’s decision to extend the current mandates of the federal institutions to respect this timeline. The statement welcomed the further provisions in the NLF communiqué, commended the establishment of an Electoral Dispute Resolution Mechanism, and emphasised the importance of adhering to the political roadmap between now and 2020, in particular in order to reach one-person, one-vote elections by 2020.
Speaking about the upcoming election, the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission for Somalia, Francisco Madeira, reiterated on 17 August that AMISOM will work together with the Somali National Security Forces (SNSF) to ensure that the electoral process is successful, and stressed that efforts would be intensified to defeat the Al-Shabaab rebel group, noting that the focus will be on clearing main supply routes and enabling residents to move freely.
Meanwhile, the security situation in Somalia remains troubled, with Al-Shabaab continuing to conduct terrorist attacks. Among such attacks recently was a double suicide car bombing targeting a government building in Galkayo in central Somalia on 21 August that killed 27 and injured nearly 90 others, the single deadliest attack the group has carried out in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland. On 26 July, two suicide bombers detonated explosives-packed cars outside the office of the UN mine-clearing agency and at a Somali army checkpoint in Mogadishu. Thirteen people were killed, including a protection officer working with the UN Refugee Agency. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for both attacks.
In a communiqué on the situation in Somalia and AMISOM adopted on 29 June, the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) commended the efforts of the AU Commission for having convened the workshop that revised the AMISOM Concept of Operations (CONOPs) and took note of the meeting of the Military Operations Coordination Committee, held in Kampala on 22 June, which endorsed the recommendations of the revised CONOPs. In its communiqué, the PSC expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the revised CONOPs regarding AMISOM’s identified priority tasks. These include support to secure the electoral process in coordination with the Elections Security Taskforce; more targeted and effective offensive operations by AMISOM and SNSF against Al-Shabaab; implementation of the Joint Technical Intelligence Committees to improve intelligence-sharing and management; and enhanced command and control by urgently filling structures of AMISOM’s Strategic, Operational and Tactical headquarters with dedicated and qualified personnel. The communiqué also took note of the timelines of the AMISOM exit strategy presented by the AU Commission, which prioritises territorial recovery and consolidation by AMISOM and SNSF until October 2018, and a subsequent drawdown and transfer of security responsibilities to the SNSF from then until December 2020.
The PSC communiqué also emphasised the need to align the current political developments with efforts to create a capable, inclusive and effective SNSF and urged the UN Security Council to lift the arms embargo imposed on Somalia. Ending the embargo was a critical aspect of building capable Somalia security institutions, the PSC said.
On 21 August, the Kenyan government said it would suspend its decision to close down the Dadaab refugee camp and send back Somali refugees until the situation in Somalia stabilises. Calling the camp an economic burden and breeding ground for terrorism, Kenya had announced in early May that it would close the site, which houses more than 326,000 Somalis, by the end of November.
Human Rights-Related Developments
On 24 June, the Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted without a vote the outcome of the universal periodic review of Somalia, comprising the report of the Working Group (A/HRC/32/12), the views of the state concerning the recommendations and/or conclusions made and its voluntary commitments and replies presented before the adoption of the outcome (A/HRC/RES/32/109). The HRC will consider the report of the independent expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia during its 33rd session in September (A/HRC/33/64).
The most pressing issue currently is ensuring that Somalia adheres to the revised timeline for the limited 2016 electoral process and conducts peaceful, transparent and inclusive elections, paving the way for one-person, one-vote elections in 2020.
Likewise, progress must be made towards the constitutional review process and completion of the federal state formation, with support from UNSOM.
It is also essential that effective measures be taken by AMISOM and the SNSF to address the security threat posed by Al-Shabaab, including through the implementation of AMISOM’s priority tasks as outlined in the revised CONOPs, particularly in light of the upcoming elections. As a related issue, funding gaps for AMISOM operations continue to be a key concern.
The most likely option for the Council is to simply receive the September briefing. Given that the Council issued a presidential statement on Somalia in August, it seems unlikely that it would take further measures in September unless developments on the ground necessitate further action.
Council members are united in supporting Somalia’s electoral and state-building processes, and in their support for AMISOM, as demonstrated by unified messages conveyed during the Council’s visit to Somalia in May and the uncontentious adoption of several recent Council outcomes on Somalia—including its 23 May press statement, 7 July AMISOM reauthorisation and 19 August presidential statement.
On sanctions, the Council is divided between those members who believe it should consider lifting the measures against Eritrea, such as Angola, China, Russia and Venezuela, and those who remain concerned about Eritrea’s other activities in the region and seem to view cooperation with the Monitoring Group as a precondition for any changes in the sanctions regime. Venezuela has also called on the Council to heed Somalia’s appeal for the lifting of sanctions on Somalia, as requested by the Somali president during a briefing to the Council in April and by the AU PSC in its June communiqué.
The UK is the penholder on Somalia, and Venezuela is the chair of the 751/1907 Somalia/Eritrea Sanctions Committee.
UN DOCUMENTS ON SOMALIA
|Security Council Resolutions|
|7 July 2016 S/RES/2297||This was a resolution which extended AMISOM’s authorisation until 31 May 2017 with no major changes.|
|Security Council Presidential Statements|
|19 August 2016 S/PRST/2016/13||This was a presidential statement that welcomed the meeting of Somalia’s NLF on the implementation of the 2016 National Electoral Process and regretted the delayed electoral timetable.|
|9 May 2016 S/2016/430||This was the report of the Secretary-General on Somalia.|
|Security Council Press Statements|
|23 May 2016 SC/12369||This was a press statement that welcomed the electoral process set out in the 22 May decree issued by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.|