Report of the Secretary-General on Somalia (S/2017/21)
1. The present report is submitted pursuant to paragraph 22 of Security Council resolution 2275 (2016) and paragraph 44 of Council resolution 2297 (2016). It provides information on the implementation of those resolutions, including on the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and challenges faced by the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) in carrying out its mandate. It covers major developments from 1 September to 31 December 2016.
II. Political and security overview
A. Political developments
2. The most significant development was progress in the electoral process. Following prolonged negotiations over the details of the electoral model, together with some technical delays, federal parliamentary elections were launched on 15 October. As at 31 December, 43 members of the 54-seat upper house and 258 members of the 275-seat lower house had been elected. The new Federal Parliament was inaugurated on 27 December in a joint session of the two houses. Preparations began thereafter for the election of the Speakers and the country’s President.
3. Overall, and notwithstanding delays and cases of malpractice, including bribery and intimidation of delegates, the electoral process was more peaceful and inclusive than in 2012. Disruption by Al-Shabaab did not come to pass, thanks to the effective security arrangements put in place by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Somali security institutions. The National Leadership Forum, comprising federal and regional leaders, played a key role in dealing with election-related issues, such as endorsing a code of conduct for all parliamentary and presidential candidates and establishing an independent electoral dispute resolution mechanism. Verified cases of electoral malpractice prompted the Forum to order re-runs for five parliamentary seats. In all, close to 13,000 delegates nationwide voted for the members of the lower house, while regional assemblies elected the members of the upper house. As at 31 December, the representation of women stood at 24 per cent in the lower house and 23 per cent in the upper house, a significant improvement on the previous composition of the Federal Parliament (14 per cent in the lower house), although short of the target of 30 per cent set by the Forum. Of the cost of the electoral process ($14 million), 60 per cent was covered by international donors, 10 per cent by the Federal Government and 30 per cent by candidate registration fees.
4. The federal state creation process was completed upon the merger of the Hiraan and Shabelle Dhexe regions into the new HirShabelle Interim Administration on 9 October. Jawhar was designated as the capital of the new state; the newly established State Assembly then elected a regional president, vice-president, speaker and deputy speaker. After intense engagement by the Federal Government and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), most clan elders who had earlier opposed the process agreed to join it, with the exception of the leader of the Habar Gidir-Hawadle subclan.
5. On 18 September, after nearly eight months, “Somaliland” concluded a voter registration exercise in preparation for its own parliamentary and presidential elections. Some 850,000 voters were registered, including, for the first time ever, in the disputed territories of Sool, Sanaag and Cayn, notwithstanding the clashes between “Somaliland” and Puntland forces in eastern Sanaag on 18 July that killed five people. Official talks between the two sides led to de-escalation and the successful completion of voter registration. Parliamentary and presidential elections were initially scheduled for 28 March 2017. Nevertheless, the regional President, Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud “Silanyo”, issued a decree on 10 September to postpone the parliamentary elections to an unspecified date, giving the main reason as the need to review the allocation of seats in the Awdal, Sool and eastern Sanaag regions. The “Somaliland” authorities have since ignored calls from opposition parties, civil society and the international community to reverse the decision.
6. On 13 September, IGAD held the twenty-eighth extraordinary summit of Heads of State and Government in Mogadishu, the first such summit on Somali soil in 42 years. This significant event reflected growing confidence in the country’s future.
B. Security developments
7. In Mogadishu, Al-Shabaab stepped up the use of car bombings with the intention of perpetuating a sense of insecurity among the public during the electoral period. On 18 September, a suicide bomber drove his vehicle into a Somali forces convoy, killing a senior commander and seven soldiers. On 1 October, an explosive-laden vehicle detonated outside a restaurant, killing 4 people and injuring 10 others. On 5 November, a suicide bomber drove into a Somali and AMISOM convoy, killing four troops and injuring nine others. On 11 December, a minivan exploded at the port of Mogadishu, killing more than 35 people. Two suicide bombers failed to hit their targets on 10 and 15 December, but their vehicles exploded, killing a National Intelligence and Security Agency officer and injuring 12 other people. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for a mortar attack that caused minor damage to the United Nations common compound on 29 September. Suspected Al-Shabaab operatives gunned down six clan elders and two electoral delegates on 20 October, 2, 6, 9 and 29 November and 11 and 28 December.
8. In central and southern Somalia, Al-Shabaab continued to engage in guerrilla warfare and occasionally deployed fighters to carry out complex attacks. On 16 September, some 150 fighters raided a Somali army base in Ceel Waaq, Gedo region, killing eight soldiers. On 18 October, more than 100 Al-Shabaab fighters attacked multiple government locations in Afgooye, Shabelle Hoose region, killing 14 people, including two senior military officials and the Director General of the Ministry of Finance of the Interim South-West Administration. On 25 October, an explosives-laden truck targeted Djiboutian positions in Beledweyne, Hiraan region, leaving four people dead and eight injured.
9. Al-Shabaab made some territorial gains following the withdrawal of Ethiopian and Somali forces from Muqakoori, Ceel Cali and Halgen, Hiraan region, on 15 September and 11 and 23 October. The group also regained control of Tayeeglow, Bakool region, following the withdrawal on 26 October of Ethiopian and Somali troops. Somali forces sought to recover the town on 15 November, but did not succeed. In Bay region, Somali forces twice lost Goof Guduud Shabelow to Al-Shabaab, on 1 and 23 November, but regained control of the town with the support of AMISOM on 7 December.
10. The security situation in Puntland deteriorated following the outbreak on 7 October of armed clashes between forces loyal to Puntland and those loyal to Galmudug in Gaalkacyo. Heavy fighting occurred almost daily until a ceasefire was agreed on 18 November. Sporadic gunfire continued nonetheless, and heavy clashes broke out again on 23 December. The conflict triggered significant population displacement and left more than 74 people dead and 220 injured.
11. On 26 October, between 50 and 100 militiamen belonging to an Al-Shabaab splinter group that declared allegiance to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) seized the coastal town of Qandala, Bari region. Puntland security forces launched coordinated ground, sea and air operations early in November with the support of bilateral partners, but encountered resistance and were forced to retreat. On 3 December, they launched a fresh ground offensive and retook control of the town on 7 December. The media reported more than 30 fatalities among pro-ISIL fighters, while an unspecified number of people retreated to surrounding areas and remain at large.
12. There were some violent incidents relating to the electoral process. In Baidoa, Bay region, militias supporting rival candidates for the lower house clashed on 29 October and 12 November. In Cadaado, Galguduud region, clan tensions escalated around 14 November and resulted in a civilian being shot dead by a Somali soldier. In Garoowe, Puntland, sporadic gunfire was reported during polling sessions on 5 November.
13. On 8 and 9 October, the Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security visited Somalia and met the President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the Minister for Internal Security and the Director General of the National Intelligence and Security Agency. He noted some improvement in the general security situation since his previous visit, in August 2014. He reiterated the importance of the host Government in providing security support to United Nations personnel, assets and operations, given the attacks carried out against the United Nations.