posted on Mon 18 Apr 2016 5:26 PM
Somalia: Briefing on Recent Developments

Tomorrow (19 April), the Security Council will hold a briefing on Somalia at the request of the UK, taking advantage of Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud’s presence in New York for events in the General Assembly. Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia Michael Keating is also expected to brief the Council, along with AU Permanent Observer Tete Antonio. The meeting is expected to focus on recent political developments, and while no outcome is currently being discussed, a press statement following the meeting is a possibility.

Recent progress in the electoral process is likely to feature prominently in tomorrow’s discussion. On 4 April, the semi-autonomous Puntland region agreed to participate fully in the electoral process, on the basis of an agreement with the Somali government providing assurances that the so-called 4.5 power-sharing formula, which gives an equal share to each of the four major clans while a coalition of smaller clans gets half a share, would “under no circumstances be used beyond the 2016 elections”. The agreement was guaranteed by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), with the UN, the AU and the EU serving as witnesses.

There was also progress on the practical framework for the implementation of the electoral process. The third National Leadership Forum held in Mogadishu from 9 to 12 April agreed on a structure for the electoral process, involving the establishment of uniform election implementation teams at federal and state levels to organise the upcoming elections. Participants also agreed on the composition of these teams, and promised to formulate their terms of reference and to establish a dispute resolution mechanism. Furthermore, the forum announced that a constitutional conference would be held between 25 May and 5 June in the Puntland capital, Garowe, to discuss contentious political and constitutional issues that may require review. Council members will be expecting to hear more about these recent developments from the Somali president, as well as his view as to how the international community can best support the process. They will also be interested in Keating’s assessment of the overall political situation and remaining challenges.

The briefing will also provide an opportunity to review the security situation in Somalia, at a time when Council members are preparing for the upcoming re-authorisation in May of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMSOM) as well as the review of the UN Support Office for Somalia (UNSOS). While suicide bombings and other attacks by the Islamist rebel group Al-Shabaab have continued, the group has also reportedly suffered heavy casualties and lost some of its key leaders in recent operations conducted by AMISOM and the Somali National Army, as well as by the US. Council members may therefore be particularly interested in the AU representative’s assessment of the security situation. More generally, they are likely to be looking for any additional information from the briefers that might help provide an accurate picture of the situation on the ground ahead of the discussions next month on AMISOM and UNSOS.

Antonio is expected to convey several messages from the AU, and may reiterate some of the key points in the PSC press statement adopted after its 31 March meeting on the situation in Somalia. In that statement, the PSC reiterated its serious concern about the funding gap created by the EU’s “untimely” 20 per cent funding cut and once again called on the UN to utilise assessed contributions to bridge the funding gap. It stressed that, in line with Chapter VIII of the UN Charter, in deploying AMISOM the AU is acting on behalf of the Security Council. The statement also reiterated the need for enhanced adherence to the command and control structure of AMISOM and expressed serious concern over the reports of continuous shipment of arms for non-state actors in Somalia, in violation of the existing UN arms embargo. Furthermore, the statement appealed to the international community to enhance its assistance to the population in need in light of the difficult humanitarian situation.

Council members are likely to be particularly interested in any updates regarding efforts to solve command and control problems and other steps towards improving the effectiveness of AMISOM. They may also want to inquire about the report on AMISOM that the UN has encouraged the AU to submit ahead of the expected re-authorisation in May. According to resolution 2093 of 6 March 2013, the AU is expected to report to the Secretary-General every 90 days on the implementation of AMISOM’s mandate, but its reporting has apparently been inconsistent.

Later this week, on Friday 22 April, the 751/1907 Somalia/Eritrea Sanctions Committee will have a meeting to consider the mid-term report from its Panel of Experts.