Somalia Week in Focus: Top Stories (Nov. 11, 2016)

 Week ending November 11, 2016 

Ilhan Omar becomes first Somali-American Muslim woman legislator

Somali-American Ilhan Omar became the first Somali-American Muslim woman to ever become a legislator of the Minnesota House of Representatives.

Ms Omar, 34, immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 12 and has lived in Minnesota for years. She won her Minneapolis district seat comfortably against a nominal Republican candidate.

Minnesota is home to the largest concentration of Somali-Americans in the U.S.

Galkayo fighting enters second month

Fighting in the central Somali city of Galkayo entered its second month, with forces loyal to rival administrations of Puntland and Galmudug engaged in weeks of fighting which has led to upwards of 70 deaths.

Heavy fighting resumed on Nov. 6th, two days after Puntland President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali ‘Gaas’ and Galmudug President Abdikarim Hussein Guled signed a ceasefire agreement sponsored by the United Arab Emirates government in Abu Dhabi and endorsed by the Arab League.

Over 30 people – mostly fighters from both sides – were killed in the latest fighting, which erupted on October 7th following a disagreement over Puntland’s plans to build an animal quarantine center in west Galkayo.

Both sides have blamed the other for initiating the violence. The administration of Galkayo is shared between Puntland – which controls the north – and Galmudug in the southern part of the city.

Radio journalist Mahad Ali Mohamed was killed in the crossfire while on his way to work, Reuters reported.

International aid agencies are concerned that the 75,000 civilians displaced by the Galkayo fighting is “compounding the humanitarian situation” for Somali families. Combined with severe drought in parts of Somalia, aid groups have described the situation as “a gathering storm of increasing humanitarian needs” in Somalia.

Kenyan troops profiting from ‘illegal charcoal trade’ in Somalia

The United Nations says that Kenyan troops – who form part of the UN-endorsed African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) – are involved in profiting from an illegal charcoal trade in southern Somalia.

“The Kenyan contingent of Amisom continues to play a substantial role in the illicit export of charcoal from Somalia,” the its 247-page report declared.

The UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea (SEMG) was established to monitor the 1992 arms embargo on Somalia and report to the UN Security Council regarding matters of security and stability in Somalia.

Kenyan troops were deployed in Somalia in October 2011 to fight against Al Shabaab insurgents and joined AMISOM three months later.

The report alleges that Kenyan troops profited about $12million per year from the illegal trade. The Kenyan government has called the report “erroneous”, with State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu saying that Kenya “will not be distracted by the latest hogwash masquerading as research”.

Drought conditions worsen due to failure of seasonal rainfall

The October seasonal rain period ended in Somalia with light rains in some parts of the East African nation, with below-average rainfall reported across the country’s six regional states.

As a result of the failure of Deyr seasonal rainfall, “large parts of the country remain atypically dry”, according to the Famine Early Warning System Network.

Poor rainfall has adversely impacted livelihoods throughout Somalia and international aid groups have called for “urgent attention from all actors”.

Lower House elections commence in Somali regional states

Elections for Members of the Lower House of Federal Parliament commenced this week in Somalia, with MPs begin elected in three regional states of Puntland, Southwest and Jubaland.

The elections represent progress in the Somali federal government’s plans to hold a presidential election later this year. The 54-member Upper House consists of representatives from Somalia’s six regional states, although the separatist Somaliland region has refused to partake in the federal government of Somalia.

The parliamentary elections were delayed from August to October/November, with the country’s first-ever Upper House of Federal Parliament formed last month in four regional states. The fifth regional state, HirShabelle, elected their eight Upper House seats this week.

UN Special Envoy to Somalia Michael Keating said it took “18 months to design the model” for Somalia’s 2016 federal elections, and shared his view that the electoral model is “infinitely more robust than it was in 2012” election. However, Mr Keating admitted that, “vote-buying and bribes are a reality”.

Source: Somali Review