Somalia elections: Politicians strike a last-minute deal but conflict still looms large


Thursday’s meeting did not yield a new election date, and Farmajo, who has become an increasingly controversial figure, did not participate directly in the agreement.

While the Western supporters of Somalia Ushered The agreement as a step in the right direction, security officials said that the likelihood of conflict was still high. Security forces are under increasing pressure to take sides, amid deepening political divisions.

“As long as there is no political agreement, we are at a stage where we have no idea what will happen in terms of how the various armed forces will react if sudden violence occurs,” said Jehan Abdullah Hassan, a former senior advisor at the Somali Ministry of Defense. minister.

Somalia has an array of military units, some of them professional, and controlled and trained by foreign advisers federally, while others are more in tune with regional governments that have been at odds with the administration in Mogadishu over how to hold elections.

Hassan said efforts to bring all the armed forces under federal control had succeeded in streamlining the payroll, establishing codes of conduct and restructuring the military leadership, but did not erase the divisions inherent within it.

She said, “It is a dilemma.” “The forces have not been integrated nationally yet – they are close, but they are not there yet. We cannot allow them to slide back into political or clan rivalries.”

In Mogadishu, the mood on Thursday was tense. The city was crowded with traffic as roads were closed before the planned protests, and residents stocked up on necessities, for fear of facing the next day’s protests with bullets.

Earlier this week, the president of one of the regions of Somalia, Puntland, recounted in A. Widely seen speech How Farmajo boasted before him that he had enough armed forces behind him to stay in power as long as he wanted.

While the new constitution introduced in 2012 established guidelines for the establishment of a constitutional court that would adjudicate disputes between member states in Somalia as well as procedures for the possible impeachment of the president, neither Farmajo nor his predecessor took the necessary procedural steps to establish the court.

Some within the security establishment began to talk about what they saw as Farmajo’s tendency to use the various branches of the security forces to suppress any opposition to him.

“You didn’t say any opposition, you have to shoot the president.” An assistant to the Somali police commissioner, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said, “On the president’s side, we have been asked to move strongly against the opposition.”

Former army chief Muhammad Ali Braisi was more forthcoming in his assessment.

“Farmajo sees the armed forces, intelligence services and even the police as a personal tool to achieve his own goals,” he said. “Since coming to power, he has been trying to appoint like-minded officers, even his extended family and members of his clan, to higher positions. Our hopes are with the wise officers who will refuse – but undoubtedly they will be fired, dismissed, and dismissed, and may even risk their lives to do so.”

A current official with the Special Forces unit widely considered to be the most effective in Somalia, known as Danab, and which is trained by US Special Operations forces, said Farmajo had asked its commander to move some of its forces to Mogadishu before last Friday’s protests. But the request was rejected. The official requested that his name and rank be withheld to enable him to speak openly about a politically sensitive issue.

He added that other special forces units known as Gorgur and Harmad, both trained by the Turkish army, were deployed last Friday in Mogadishu.

Last month, the US Army completed It pulled about 700 people They were largely stationed in Somalia as part of a training mission but had sometimes participated in ground raids on suspected targets belonging to Al Shabaab, an al Qaeda militant group that controls much of rural areas in southern Somalia and has contributed to the country’s survival. Instability.

The political crisis will only distract the country’s security apparatus from its efforts against al-Shabaab. Analysts said, Potentially creating an environment in which the group could operate more freely and regain land lost to the government over the past decade.

If the political agreement remains elusive, “the unity of efforts in the war on terror will be lost, and we will continue to see the strengthening of al-Shabaab,” said Mohamed Mubarak, executive director of the Haral Institute, a Somali think tank. .

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