What's In Blue

Posted Thu 26 Jan 2017

Somalia: Briefing and Consultations

Tomorrow (27 January), the Security Council will convene to consider the situation in Somalia. Special Representative of the Secretary-General Michael Keating will brief on the UN Mission in Somalia, while AU Special Representative to Somalia Francisco Madeira will brief on the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Asha Gelle, the Chair of Goodwill Ambassadors for the 30% reserved seats for women in the Somali elections, is also expected to address the Council. The briefings will be followed by consultations.

Foremost on the minds of Council members is likely to be the Somali electoral process. Special Representative Keating is expected to brief on progress in this area. Despite numerous delays and widespread malpractice, including intimidation of delegates and bribery, the recent Secretary-General’s report notes that the elections were more peaceful and far more inclusive than the previous electoral exercise of 2012, with Al-Shabaab unable to disrupt the vote because of security provided by AMISOM and Somali government forces. Furthermore, by the end of 2016, 43 members of the 54-seat upper house and 258 members of the 275-seat lower house had been elected, and the new Federal Parliament was inaugurated on 27 December in a joint session of the two houses. Council members may be interested in hearing about developments that transpired after the publication of the Secretary-General’s report, including the election of speakers to the lower and upper houses. In addition, Council members will be looking forward to Keating’s assessment regarding the upcoming election of a president, which after repeated delays is expected to occur in mid-February.

Asha Gelle, the Chair of Goodwill Ambassadors for the 30% reserved seats for women, is expected to focus on the role of women in the electoral process. In September 2016, the National Leadership Forum had reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring that 30 per cent of parliamentary seats would be held by women. While the implementation of the decision proved to be a challenge, intense advocacy efforts carried out by women leaders, candidates, goodwill ambassadors, the Ministry of Women and Human Rights Development and international partners yielded positive results in the elections. The lower house of the Federal Parliament now consists of 24 percent female representation—10 percent greater than the 14 percent women in 2012.

Another significant political development that Keating will probably elaborate on is the completion of the federal state creation process. This concluded with the merger of the Hiraan and Shabelle Dhexe regions into the new HirShabelle Interim Administration on 9 October, completing the federal map of Somalia. Keating is likely to stress how the sustainable completion of the state creation process—which is critical to Somalia’s stability—will require the resolution of the status of Mogadishu and several endemic conflicts.

A further issue that will probably be raised is the deteriorating humanitarian situation, as worsening drought has extended beyond Puntland and “Somaliland” to areas in the south, such as Gedo and Juba Hoose. There are now 5 million Somalis facing acute food shortages, with more than 1.1 million in emergency and crisis situations. According to the Secretary-General’s report, a continued lack of any social safety net and basic services increases the country’s vulnerability and the potential for a broader crisis. Keating is likely to impress upon Council members how a failure to respond adequately to the drought could lead to a reversal of the political gains that have recently been achieved.

On security issues, Council members may be interested in hearing about troubling disputes around the country. The deteriorating security situation in Puntland following the October 2016 outbreak of armed clashes between forces loyal to Puntland and those loyal to Galmudug in Gaalkacyo might be raised in the discussion. Council members may further inquire about the extent of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL) involvement in Somalia. On 26 October 2016, between 50 and 100 militiamen belonging to an Al-Shabaab splinter group that had declared allegiance to ISIL seized the coastal town of Qandala, Bari region, which was taken back by Puntland security forces in December.

The AU Peace and Security Council’s (PSC) request for the UN Security Council to authorise an AMISOM troop surge of 4,500 for a non-renewable six month period, outlined in the PSC’s 16 January communiqué, will probably be a focus of Madeira’s briefing. This request was made to enable AMISOM to undertake mandated tasks set out in its 2016 Concept of Operations, especially in relation to the expansion of offensive operations and the exit strategy of the Mission. Council members may be interested in hearing what if any arrangements for such a surge have been made, including where the additional troops could come from.

Another matter that Madeira will probably raise is AMISOM’s funding , particularly in light of the EU’s cutting of funds to AMISOM by 20 percent last April. The PSC communiqué requested the AU Commission Chairperson to urgently undertake strategic consultations to explore various funding options for AMISOM, including through the convening of a high-level tripartite meeting of the AU, the EU and the UN.

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