Somalia Political stalemate over ‘disappointing’ elections: India

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Somalia missed a deadline to hold elections on February 8. (File)

The United Nations:

India called the political deadlock over the Somalia elections “disappointing” and said the delay will encourage Al-Shabaab and other armed groups to gain traction and continue their terrorist acts that will overthrow democratic progress made so far.

“Today, Somalia is once again facing a political stalemate, which threatens the progress made in recent years towards stabilization. The political stalemate on the holding of elections is indeed disappointing,” the permanent representative said on Monday. of India to United Nations Ambassador TS Tirumurti. during the United Nations Security Council meeting on Somalia.

He said it had been more than five months since the agreement was signed in September last year between Somalia’s federal government and federal member states.

However, “contrary to our expectations”, the meeting between Somali leaders initially scheduled for February 15 and then February 18 and 19 did not take place.

Stressing the importance for Somali leaders to engage in constructive dialogue to resolve the issues that are delaying the holding of elections, Tirumurti said that “we are now awaiting a swift decision from the leaders to hold elections soon. “.

He said New Delhi welcomes the announcement on February 16 that the Technical Committee representing the Federal Government and Federal Member States has identified solutions to outstanding electoral issues and that these have been submitted to the National Advisory Council. .

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“There is no doubt that the longer it takes to organize elections, the more complicated the situation will become. This delay will only embarrass Al-Shabaab and other armed groups to gain more ground and continue their terrorist acts, which will reverse the democratic gains thus obtained, far ”, declared Mr. Tirumurti, stressing that India urges all Somalis not to resort to violence during this important transition and to rather encourage dialogue and reconciliation.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, James Swan, told the Council by video conference that the political stalemate between the main Somali leaders has blocked the implementation of the electoral model agreed by the President of the Federal Government of Somalia and the leaders. of federal member states on September 17, 2020.

“This model has been formally approved by both houses of parliament and supported by all other major political actors, but its implementation is contested,” he said.

James Swan added that tensions around the implementation of the elections have now been compounded by questions raised by some politicians about the legitimacy of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed’s tenure after his constitutional term expired on February 8.

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The government cites an October parliamentary resolution allowing the president to stay, but that is contested by others, he said.

Tirumurti expressed concern at the frequency of terrorist attacks perpetrated by Al-Shabaab in recent months and said last week’s suicide bombing in Mogadishu reflected the fragile security situation in the country.

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Strongly condemning these terrorist attacks, Tirumurti said India was also concerned about the increased use of IEDs by Al-Shabaab and called for expanding support to Somali security forces to strengthen their capacity to deal with this threat.

India also expressed deep concern at the worsening humanitarian situation in Somalia, as the continuing conflict and economic instability has been compounded by the triple threat of COVID-19, locusts and flooding.

Mr. Tirumurti said it was “reprehensible” that aid workers working under such difficult circumstances were targeted by al-Shabaab and its affiliated groups.

Access for humanitarian workers remains essential to alleviate the challenges facing the Somali people. Equally important is helping Somalia to control the Desert Locust, which is spreading from that region to many parts of Asia, causing extensive crop damage. This aspect should also receive special attention from the international community, ”he said.

Mr. Tirumurti underlined that the situation in Somalia calls for a sustained engagement with the federal government and the federal member states in order to comprehensively resolve the multitude of problems in the political, security and humanitarian fields.

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Noting that the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has been playing a key role in controlling Al-Shabaab in Somalia for several years now, Tirumurti said Somali security forces and institutions needed a continued support to combat Al Shabaab and other armed groups and the transition of security responsibilities from AMISOM to Somali security forces should be carefully calibrated, keeping in mind the realities on the ground.

Mr Tirumurti warned that a “hasty withdrawal will reverse” progress made so far. He added that the extension of AMISOM’s mandate should not be constrained by current funding constraints, adding that a technical postponement of AMISOM’s mandate would allow all stakeholders to consider reconfiguring it. ‘AMISOM comprehensively at a later date.

On the issue of piracy, Tirumurti said that while there has been no successful piracy attack off the coast of Somalia recently, the threat has persisted.

The Indian Navy has conducted anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia without interruption since October 2008 and has coordinated with multinational partners to contribute to maritime safety and security for all in the region, he said.

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