Situation in Somalia - Report of the Secretary-General (S/2021/154)

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I. Introduction

1. The present report is submitted pursuant to paragraph 16 of Security Council resolution 2540 (2020) and paragraph 37 of resolution 2520 (2020). It provides updates on the implementation of those resolutions, including on the mandates of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS). The report covers significant developments in Somalia from 5 November 2020 to 9 February 2021.

II. Political, security and economic overview

A. Political developments

2. The agreement on the electoral process reached on 17 September 2020 notwithstanding, divergence persisted with respect to its implementation, as the opposition Council of Presidential Candidates Union and some federal member states accused the Federal Government of unilaterally appointing committee members loyal to the President of Somalia, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed “Farmajo”. Disputes also emerged regarding the selection of representatives to the indirect electoral and implementation team for Federal Parliament seats allocated to “Somaliland”. The agreement of 17 September provides for the Jubbaland state-level electoral committee to organize elections in Garbahaarrey, but details of the administrative and security arrangements have not yet been fully agreed between the Jubbaland administration and the Federal Government.

3. To address these issues, several attempts at dialogue have been made. On 24 December, the Presidents of Galmudug and Puntland agreed to work together in trying to resolve the dispute among various stakeholders on the implementation of elections. From 11 to 14 December, the Prime Minister of Somalia, Mohamed Hussein Roble, paid his first official visit to Puntland and discussed the political stalemate over the electoral process with the President of Puntland, Said Abdullahi Deni, but there was no breakthrough, including on the appointment of Puntland representatives to the federal and state-level election management bodies. Between 30 December 2020 and 2 January 2021, discussions on the margins of a conference in Garoowe among the Deputy Prime Minister, the Presidents of Puntland, Galmudug and Jubbaland, as well as some of the opposition presidential candidates, resulted in proposals to resolve the political impasse impeding the advancement of the electoral process. Those proposals were conveyed to the federal leadership by the President of Galmudug. While all parties reportedly viewed those proposals positively, no significant progress was made.

4. On 15 and 25 December, protests in Mogadishu, called by opposition groups over the Federal Government’s management of the upcoming elections, led to violence and the use of force by the Somali Police Force, resulting in one death and three civilians injured. Clan-affiliated militias reportedly took part in the clashes.

5. On 9 January, the Prime Minister announced that the Federal Government was ready to begin the electoral process in South-West State, Hirshabelle and Galmudug, as well as the Banaadir Regional Administration. The opposition condemned the move, warning that partial elections endangered the unity and stability of Somalia.

6. While significant attention was focused on the national electoral impasse, in “Somaliland”, voter registration was conducted from 30 November 2020 to 13 January 2021, ahead of parliamentary and local council elections scheduled to be held on 31 May 2021. On 29 December, following a visit to Djibouti, the President of “Somaliland”, Musa Bihi Abdi, attended the reopening of the border between “Somaliland” and Djibouti at the Loyada border crossing, which had been closed since 25 March 2020 in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

7. On 11 November, in Jawhar, Hirshabelle State, Abdullahi Ali Hussein “Gudlawe” from the Hawiye-Abgaal sub-clan was elected as state President by the regional assembly; Yusuf Ahmed Hagar “Dabageed” of the Hawiye-Hawadle sub-clan, was elected as Vice-President. However, several Hawadle stakeholders alleged that the elections were rigged and raised power-sharing concerns relating to their representation in state institutions and to the location of the state capital in Jawhar, Middle Shabelle. There were also public protests in Beledweyne. On 23 December, the regional assembly passed a resolution by which its tenure and that of the state presidency was extended from four to five years.

8. On 30 November, the Federal Government recalled its ambassador to Kenya and requested the Kenyan ambassador to Somalia to leave the country, citing interference in both the electoral process and in the relations between the Federal Government and Jubbaland. On 14 December, Somalia severed diplomatic ties with Kenya, further alleging interference in domestic affairs. The move came after a two-day visit to Kenya by the President of “Somaliland”. On 15 December, Kenya and “Somaliland” announced a cooperation agreement to expand the movement of people and goods between Nairobi and Hargeysa, building on the existing movement of goods and people by flight between the two cities, and the opening of a Kenyan consulate in Hargeysa.

9. On 20 December, during the thirty-eight Extraordinary Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), participants agreed that Kenya and Somalia should resolve their differences within the IGAD framework. Following those developments, a Djiboutian delegation, composed of senior diplomats and military officers, visited Somalia in mid-January as part of an IGAD-mandated fact-finding mission on Somali complaints lodged against Kenya and reported back to the President of Djibouti, Ismaël Omar Guelleh.
On 26 January, the fact-finding team released its report, in which it said that it found evidence that Kenya had violated Somali airspace but no evidence that it had interfered in Somali affairs. While Kenya welcomed the report as “factual”, Somalia rejected it as “biased”.

10. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General continued to conduct his good offices in support of efforts to overcome the electoral impasse. Meetings were undertaken on a regular basis between the Federal Government and federal member state leaders. In addition, he visited all federal member states and “Somaliland” between January and early February 2021. The United Nations also facilitated numerous meetings between the diplomatic community and Somali political leaders. All those efforts were aimed at supporting and facilitating continued dialogue, compromise and consensus towards moving the electoral process forward. Numerous statements on behalf of the international partners of Somalia were also issued in relation to the political process.

11. On 30 January, President Farmajo announced the convening of a consultative forum with federal member state leaders in Dhuusamarreeb, as part of efforts to implement the agreement of 17 September. The President also announced that he would address both houses of the Federal Parliament thereafter. The consultative forum officially commenced in Dhuusamarreeb on 3 February, attended by the President, the Prime Minister, all federal member state leaders and the Banaadir Regional Governor. The forum ended on 6 February in a stalemate over the issue of elections in Gedo.

12. On 6 February, President Farmajo briefed the House of the People on the status of the ongoing talks and indicated his readiness to continue dialogue. On 8 February, international partners issued a statement in which they called upon political leaders to resume their dialogue to urgently reach a final agreement permitting national elections to be held. In the statement, they also underscored that any alternative outcomes, including a parallel process or partial elections, or any other actions that lacked broad agreement, would not obtain the support of international partners. On the same day, the Council of Presidential Candidates Union publicly stated that it would no longer recognize the legitimacy of President Farmajo, whose constitutional term ended on 8 February, and proposed the formation of the Transitional National Council. On 9 February, President Farmajo announced his intention to host a federal and state-level summit on the implementation of the agreement of 17 September in Garoowe, Puntland.