Somalia Week in Focus: Top Stories (Dec. 9, 2016)

 Week ending December 9, 2016 

Somali leaders agree to presidential election on Dec. 28

Somali federal and state leaders opened two-day talks in Mogadishu on Dec. 7, issuing a communiqué that rescheduled the presidential election for the fourth time to Dec. 28.

The leaders – Somali president, prime minister and federal speaker, alongside leaders or representatives of five regional states – discussed election matters and agreed to new election dates.

Somalia’s presidential election was originally slated for Sep. 10. It was postponed to Oct. 30, then Nov. 30 and now Dec. 28.

The leaders – organised under the National Leaders Forum (NLF) – commended the work of the electoral bodies: the Federal Indirect Election Implementation Team (FIEIT), State-level Indirect Election Implementation Team (SIEIT), and the Independent Electoral Dispute Resolution Mechanism (IEDRM).

Further, the leaders thanked the work of security commanders and election staff, for their role in organizing 2016 election.

Somalia’s 2016 election has been marred by allegations of corruption, vote buying and intimidation. Attending the NLF meeting, a Puntland delegation led by Vice President Abdihakim Abdullahi Omar Amey pressured the NLF to include in the communique a pledge to “meet in Mogadishu on Dec. 13 to discuss the share of Sool and Sanaag regions in the Upper House seats allocated to Somaliland”.

Lower House elections commenced in the regional states on Nov. 6 and continue, with 212 MPs elected out of 275-seat Lower House. Five regional states have elected their senators to the 54-seat Upper House, with 43 senators elected.

‘5 million Somalis’ lack sufficient food: 38 agencies

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia Peter de Clercq has reiterated appeals for international donations as the UN and international aid groups are trying to organize emergency food assistance to Somali families.

Drought conditions have worsened across the country – from the north in Somaliland to the southern regions. Some 38 aid agencies say that more than 5 million Somalis do not have sufficient food.

“We are running against time. Humanitarian organizations are stretched and require additional resources,” Mr. de Clercq said.

Meanwhile, the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) issued an emergency aid appeal and called on member states to “immediately contribute” to helping alleviate drought and famine conditions in Somalia.

OIC said 760,000 persons in Somalia need emergency food aid.

Puntland troops retake Qandala

Somali government forces in the country’s northern Puntland retook the coastal town of Qandala on Dec. 7. Qandala is a remote coastal area 80km east of Puntland’s main port of Bossaso.

Puntland military officials claimed they killed over 30 fighters. The report could not be independently verified, but witnesses and local media have confirmed that Puntland troops regained full control in Qandala.

Reports said hundreds of Puntland troops poured into Qandala – by land and by sea. On Oct. 26, an ISIS-affiliated faction led by Puntland-based extremist Abdulkadir Mumin declared they seized control of Qandala.

Mumin split from Al Shabaab militants in the Galgala mountains last year and has organized a small group of fighters west of Bossaso.

On Dec. 7, there were reports of armed clashes between Puntland and pro-ISIS fighters near Qandala.

$714million UK aid to Somalia under scrutiny

British media has criticized the UK government for plans to move forward with a 568 million pounds ($714 million USD) to Somalia for the next four years.

Somalia is currently facing severe drought, leading to mass movement of nomadic families seeking access to water and grazing pastures. The humanitarian situation is grim, with aid agencies saying that more than 5 million Somalis are in need of food aid.

British papers referred to a confidential 41-page document from the Department of International Development (DFID) detailing UK aid in a number of countries.

For Somalia, the UK allocated $714 million until 2020, with British aid being spent in a number of important sectors including emergency aid, development assistance and support for Somalia’s fledgling government structures.

The DFID report said UK aid in Somalia could be “misused by listed terror groups or criminal gangs”.

But a DFID spokesman said: “The analysis made clear there was only ‘certain risk’…We have robust plans to protect our investments from the inherent challenges we face”.

Uganda sends 2,745 rotation troops as part of Somalia mission

Uganda sent over 2,700 soldiers to Somalia as part of an annual rotation, Ugandan newspaper New Vision reported this week.

Ugandan soldiers are deployed in Somalia since 2007 as part of the UN-approved African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). The new batch of troops will replace an equal number of soldiers who’d finished one-year of service in in the AMISOM mission.

Ugandan officials thanked the soldiers for the service and commitment to restoring peace and stability in Somalia.

In recent months, AMISOM has been at the center of a funding row between African countries with troops serving under AMISOM, and donor nations after the European Union implemented a 20% AMISOM budget cut in early 2016.

Source: Somali Review