News / Africa

Somali Government Future Clouded As Mandate Nears Expiration

Somali president Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed (2nd L) comes to see where police displayed the bodies of four al-Shabab fighters killed during fighting in Mogadishu, Mar 22 2011
Somali president Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed (2nd L) comes to see where police displayed the bodies of four al-Shabab fighters killed during fighting in Mogadishu, Mar 22 2011
Michael Onyiego

With the end of the mandate for the Transitional Federal Government looming, the Somali political structure is in disarray over questions of legitimacy and leadership in the war-torn country. Established in 2004 and backed by the United Nations, the TFG was originally tasked to deliver national elections and a new constitution by August of this year.

But Somalia is no closer to achieving either of those goals than it was in 2004, and the government is now facing an unclear future.

Somali member of parliament Hassan Haji Ibrahim says the inertia in the Somali government has been mainly due to constant infighting among the country’s leaders, particularly among the president, speaker of parliament and prime minister.

A new crisis

The newest crisis in the government is no different, with politics in Mogadishu increasingly engulfed by a personal battle between President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden.

Somali Parliamentary Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheik Aden (File)
Somali Parliamentary Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheik Aden (File)

The dispute between the two revolves around the expiring mandate of the government. The Somali parliament sidestepped the looming deadline by simply voting in February to extend their mandate for an additional three years. The move was blasted by international backers such as the United Nations, United States and United Kingdom, but has been backed by African organizations such as the African Union and Intergovernmental Authority on Development.

In some ways, it appears as though Aden and the Somali parliament are moving to carry out the TFG’s mandate. Earlier this month, the speaker announced that presidential elections would be held in August. On Saturday, Aden announced the formation of a committee that would guide the poll. But many observers see the recent moves by Aden as part of a bid to oust President Ahmed.

Former Somali parliament member Ali Basha says the feud between the president and Speaker Aden is personal and has moved beyond the needs of the struggling country.

“They do not have the capacity of the position they are now holding. They were not politicians, they were not educated people," said Basha. "They are just people who came to power with the wish of the so-called international community. They do not trust each other, each one of them wants to stay in power. I don’t think that they can stay together.”

Clash of personalities

President Ahmed and Speaker Aden were major players in the 2008 Djibouti Peace Agreement, which ended hostilities between the Somali government and rebel Islamic Courts Union. The Islamic Courts Union, then led by Mr. Ahmed, took control of Mogadishu before being ousted by invading Ethiopian forces in 2006 on behalf of the TFG. Aden, then serving in his first term as speaker, was removed from his post after initiating talks with the ICU for a cease-fire and an end to the Ethiopian occupation.

The Djibouti talks saw elements of the ICU integrated into the TFG, with Mr. Ahmed assuming the presidency and Aden eventually regaining the speakership in early 2010.

But since that time the two have frequently clashed, most notably over the appointment of American Somali Mohammed Abullahi Mohammed as prime minister.

This is not the first time personal issues have clouded the administration of President Ahmed. Beginning in August of last year, government work was suffocated by an open power struggle between the president and then-Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke. The struggle ended when Sharmarke resigned in late September.

But according to Rashid Abdi, an analyst for the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, the current dispute could potentially bring down the Somali government.

“This problem between the two Sharifs is a problem that has been going on for the last two years," said Abdi. "Clearly these two people have lost credibility because of this constant infighting and I think the risk of this government collapsing even before August - when the mandate constitutionally expires - is actually very real.”

Consequences for Somalia

It is reported that Speaker Aden now has the backing of Ethiopia, a major player in both the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development. Both the AU and IGAD issued decisions supporting the unilateral extension of the parliament in February.

President Ahmed has not received the same support for his government. On Sunday the Cabinet of the Transitional Federal Institutions - which includes the Presidency - voted to extend their own mandate for an additional year. But the proposal has not been backed by IGAD and was declared unconstitutional by the speaker. The United Nations - which also rejected the parliamentary extension - has similarly rejected the extension of the TFIs.

The dispute is unfolding amidst a backdrop of intense fighting between government forces and al-Qaida-linked rebels al-Shabab. At least 30 have been killed and more than 50 injured in fighting across the country in just the past few days. With just months left on its original mandate it is becoming less and less clear who will lead Somalia as it approaches uncharted territory.

You May Like

Nearly Every Job in America Mapped in Detail

A nifty map pinpoints practically every job in the United States, revealing the economic character of America’s metropolitan areas, which also helps to inform the local culture

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs