The present report of the Secretary-General is submitted pursuant to paragraph 22 of Security Council resolution 2461 (2019)and paragraph 33 of Council resolution 2472 (2019)and 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 major developments in Somalia during the period from 5 February to 4 May 2020 and specific measures related to UNSOS between 1 November 2019 and 30 April 2020.
Political, security and economic overview
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On 20 February, the President of Somalia, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed “Farmajo”, signed the electoral bill into law, following its passage through Parliament a day earlier. In the federal member states, steps were taken towards reconciliation among some stakeholders in Galmudug, the new members of the state assembly in South-West State took office and Puntland held a consultative conference of political stakeholders. However, relations between the Federal Government and some federal member states remained strained. The deployment of Somali National Army forces to the Gedo Region of Jubbaland resulted in clashes, with wider regional implications, and opposition parties in Mogadishu continued to express concern about limited political space. A decision-making forum of leaders of the Federal Government and the federal member states has not been convened since June 2018.
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On 19 February, the House of the People approved bills concerning civil aviation, quality control, the national census, the media, and retirement and benefits for members of the armed forces, and submitted them to the Upper House for review and approval. Mr. Farmajo commended the two houses on their cooperation, which enabled the passage of 20 bills during the parliamentary session.
On 5 March, in Istanbul, Turkey, opposition politicians belonging to the Forum for National Parties stated their intention to form a single political alliance ahead of national elections, urging like-minded opposition parties to join them.
On 16 March, Somalia confirmed its first case of coronavirus disease (COVID–19). The authorities announced a two-week ban on all international flights from 18 March, which was subsequently extended indefinitely.
On 15 April, the Speakers of both houses of Parliament announced their decision to postpone the start of the next parliamentary session, originally scheduled for 10 April, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and in accordance with the advice issued by the Ministry of Health, until alternative virtual arrangements were in place.
In South-West State, the selection of new state assembly members concluded on 19 March. The members were sworn in on 23 March. On 1 April, Ali Said Fiqi, Mohamednur Mohamed Moallim, and Shamso Mohamed Yarow were elected Speaker and First and Second Deputy Speakers, respectively. On 20 April, the state assembly voted in favor of a motion to give the state President, Abdiaziz Hassan Mohamed “Laftagareen”, a one-year extension, aligning the terms of office of the state President and the state assembly.
On 8 February, 2 March and 22 April, armed clashes erupted in Beledxaawo, Gedo Region, near the border between Somalia and Kenya, between the Somali National Army and militiamen loyal to the Minister of Security of Jubbaland, Abdirashid Hassan Abdinur “Janan”. The clashes heightened tensions between Somalia and Kenya. Mr. Farmajo and the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, took steps to de-escalate tensions, including through a telephone conversation on 5 March, followed by high-level ministerial visits to Mogadishu and Nairobi. On 23 April, in Nairobi, the President of Jubbaland, Ahmed Mohamed Islam “Madobe”, and his political opponents from the Jubbaland Council for Change reached an agreement to recognize his contested election in August 2019 and form a coalition government.
Heavy fighting erupted between Ahl al-Sunna wal Jama‘a (ASWJ), the Somali National Army and the special “Haramcad” police in the Dhuusamarreeb area of Galmudug on 27 and 28 February, which resulted in dozens of casualties. On 29 February, the ASWJ leadership surrendered to the Federal Government. Following his election on 2 February, the President-elect of Galmudug, Ahmed Abdi Kaariye, continued to reach out to the outgoing President of the state, Ahmed Duale Gelle “Haaf”, and the political opposition, which culminated in the peaceful handover of power on 12 April, albeit in the absence of the ASWJ leadership.
On 24 March, the Hirshabelle state assembly approved a budget of $14 million for 2020, with the possibility of a supplemental budget in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On 6 February, Puntland ordered the closure of the National Independent Electoral Commission office in Garoowe and suspended its activities in the state. From 15 to 17 March, the President of Puntland, Said Abdullahi Mohamed Deni, hosted a consultative conference in Garoowe to discuss the state’s trajectory. A delegation of the Federal Government led by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ahmed Isse Awad, also attended. The conference participants issued a communiqué, in which they called for the postponement of the constitutional review process until after elections and criticized the new electoral law, stating, inter alia, that it contradicted the Provisional Federal Constitution. They also called for a consultative conference of all Somali political stakeholders to deliberate and agree on ways to hold elections in 2020/21. At the conclusion of the conference, Mr. Deni announced his intention to travel to Mogadishu and federal member state capitals to advance the dialogue.
On 29 February, in the Sool and Sanaag regions disputed by “Somaliland” and Puntland, intermittent skirmishes resumed between forces loyal to the two sides, in breach of the de facto ceasefire brokered in 2018 by the United Nations and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development.
On 27 February, the President of Somaliland, Muse Bihi Abdi, and opposition party leaders signed an agreement on organizing parliamentary and local council elections by the end of 2020.
On 11 February, Mr. Bihi and Mr. Farmajo met for the first time since each assumed office in 2017. The Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, brokered the meeting, which was held in Addis Ababa. On 13 February, Mr. Farmajo asked for the forgiveness of the people of “Somaliland”, expressing regret for human rights violations committed by the regime of Siyad Barre. Mr. Bihi accepted the gesture on 18 February during his annual address to the Parliament of “Somaliland”.
On 10 March, the Ba’ide and Sa’ad Yonis sub-clans, long-term antagonists in Ceel Afweyn, Sanaag Region, began an exchange of compensation for the victims of the conflict, following an agreement brokered by traditional and religious leaders under the auspices of “Somaliland”.
International Women’s Day on 8 March was observed in Somaliland as a platform to increase awareness of gender equality and women’s rights. UNSOM provided financial and technical support to Somaliland, contributing to discussions on laws protecting women’s rights, as well as to advocacy on the 30 percent quota for women and their enhanced leadership role in politics.
On 18 February, Mr. Bihi established the “Somaliland” youth development fund to help to encourage creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship among young people.
In line with United Nations guidance on protecting human rights during the COVID-19 pandemic, UNSOM provided technical assistance to the government authorities to support mitigation of the effects of the pandemic on human rights, including the rights of persons in detention. To ease overcrowding in prisons, Somaliland released 574, and the Somali authorities pardoned 936 inmates in April: 194 in Puntland, 148 in Mogadishu, 11 in South-West State and 9 in Hirshabelle.
The meeting between Mr. Farmajo and Mr. Bihi is a positive step. I commend Mr. Farmajo for issuing a public statement in which he acknowledged past human rights violations by the regime of Siyad Barre and Mr. Bihi for accepting the gesture. I call upon both leaders to build upon this engagement to improve relations and progress towards a resumption of the dialogue between Somaliland and Somalia.