Somalia Week in Focus: Jan. 13, 2017 (Top Stories)

Week ending January 13, 2017

Somalia MPs re-elect Jawari as House Speaker 

Somalia’s new Federal Parliament re-elected 71-year-old Mohamed Osman Jawari as the country’s House Speaker in a Jan. 11 vote held in Mogadishu.

Jawari gained victory in the first round of voting, after receiving more than the 50% plus 1 (simple majority) required in the first round. Jawari hails from Somalia’s Southwest state. He previously served as House Speaker and as chairman of an independent constitutional review committee.

Osman Elmi Boqore, parliament’s interim Speaker, announced the results. Out of 251 MPs, Jawari secured 141 to win, and his closest challenger, Abdirashid Hiddig from Jubaland state, received 89 votes. Two other challengers garnered a combined 21 votes.

On Jan. 12, the House also elected the first and second Deputy Speakers. Ibrahim Sheikh Mudey won in the second round to become the first Deputy Speaker, while outgoing second Deputy Speaker Mahad Abdalla Awad retained his seat in a re-election victory.

Mudey’s victory was the most exciting among the three elections. Mudey competed against MP Farah Abdulkadir, the closest associate and ally of outgoing President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

Political commentators have interpreted Mr. Abdulkadir’s election loss as a bad omen for Mr. Mohamud’s presidential ambition.

Opposition figures issue Kampala declaration

On Jan. 14, four Somali presidential candidates issued a joint statement expressing their shared views on the country’s ongoing elections, drought relief efforts, and Somalia’s future development.

The seven-point communiqué was signed jointly by: Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, former President of Somalia; Abdi Farah Shirdon, former Prime Minister of Somalia; Abdirahman Mohamed Farole, the former President of Puntland state; and Abdinasir Mohamed Abdulle, a Somali politician.

The communiqué stated that the four candidates agreed to “prioritize the national interest” and to “the ugly vision of clan-ism”. Secondly, the communiqué called on federal MPs to vote for a “candidate who can save Somalia” and to “prevent bribes” from being used to elect the next president.

Thirdly, the communiqué called on government institutions and national security commanders to “remain neutral” in the country’s electoral process.

Fourth, the communiqué warned unnamed countries to “stop interfering in the Somali election” and to “respect the nation’s sovereignty”. Fifth, the presidential candidates called upon Somalis to extend aid to drought-affected communities in Somalia, and appealed to Somalis to “forgive each other, and to move towards national reconciliation across Somalia”.

Finally, the communiqué appealed for a “peaceful resolution” to the Galmudug political crisis.

Galmudug parliament ousts president in controversial vote

Somalia’s Galmudug administration in the central regions entered a period of political uncertainty this week, after the regional parliament voted to oust President Abdikarim Hussein Guled.

On Jan. 10, members of Galmudug’s 78-seat regional parliament filed a no-confidence motion against President Guled, accusing him of poor leadership.

However, media reports say that President Guled and the state parliament speaker Ali Ga’al Asir were not present during the voting.

Mr. Asir issued a press statement rejecting any notion that the Galmudug parliament was in session. Mr. Asir wrote that the vote against Mr. Guled was “illegal” and demanded that Galmudug parliamentarians “respect the laws and constitution” of Galmudug.

In a sign of infighting among parliamentary leaders, Deputy Speaker Ali Hared Ali is leading the parliamentary proceedings against President Guled, a close ally of outgoing Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

Upon returning to Galmudug’s interim capital Adado, Mr. Guled declared a 90-day State of Emergency and has refused to recognize the outcome of the parliamentary proceeding against him.

Al Shabaab steps up attacks amidst Somalia elections

Somali militant group Al Shabaab continues to step up attacks across Somalia and in surrounding countries, as Somalia prepares to finalize national elections.

On Jan. 7, suspected Al Shabaab members grew hand grenades at a restaurant in Mogadishu’s Hodan district. At least four people were killed and some government officials wounded, according to Xinhua.

Also this week, the US military confirmed that an American air strike targeted Al Shabaab militants near the northern outskirts of Kismayo, a strategic port city and interim capital of Jubaland state administration.

Meanwhile, the Kenyan government announced that it detained two suspected Al Shabaab members, who are accused of allegedly planning to launch attacks in in Nairobi.

Al Shabaab has been waging a ten-year insurgency to overthrow Somalia’s weak and fractured federal government in Mogadishu. The government relies on the military support of African nations (AMISOM) and financial backing of Western powers.

UAE requests to build a military base in Somaliland

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) government has forwarded a formal request to establish a military base in Somaliland, a separatist republic in north-western Somalia.

Somaliland’s foreign minister, Sa’ad Ali Shire, confirmed that Somaliland government received the UAE request on Jan. 11. Mr Shire did not confirm whether or not Somaliland plans to approve UAE plans to construct a military base in the region.

However, Somaliland media and commentators have expressed concern that a UAE military base might harm relations with Somaliland’s neighbors and trading partners: Djibouti and Ethiopia.

Somaliland unilaterally declared independence from Somalia in 1991 but has not been recognized internationally. Somaliland has garnered a reputation as a region of stability and maintains its own government, military and currency.

Source: Somali Review