Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s first 100 days in office, who was elected on May 15, ended last month as his administration still faces grim challenges.
Judging a president’s performance after 100 days in office has become a political tradition in Somalia over the past decade. Mohamud himself promised that a considerable change in security in the first 3 months of his new term.
Here are some of the key policy issues of Hassan Sheikh and how he has fared so far:
After his election, Mohamud promised that security will be his administration’s number one priority that he will manage to dislodge Al-Shabaab insurgents from areas in the Middle and Lower Shabelle regions neighboring the capital Mogadishu within the first 100 days of his term to restore peace in the city.
In response, militants have scaled up attacks in Mogadishu targeting government troops and officials. Last week, more than 12 attacks including assassinations, bomb and gun attacks were recorded in the city in just 24 hours.
Last month, insurgents carried out the longest siege at Hayat Hotel, which was popular with officials and battled security forces inside the hotel complex for more than 35 hours. More than 30 people were killed with over a 100 others wounded. The government has yet to give an explanation whether the assailants escaped, killed or arrested. Al-Shabaab said the assailants left scene after completing the deadly “operation”.
The city has seen an increase in gang attacks that have left dozens of people dead in a number of neighborhoods. Residents in a number of Mogadishu districts are still on the brink of fleeing their neighborhoods due to insecurity from youth gangs robbing them of mobile phones, killing them and breaking into their homes over night.
Similar to Mogadishu, attacks have increased in other parts in south and central Somalia.
Fight against Al-Shabaab
Somali president promised that he would eliminate Al-Shabaab by launching a multi-fronted militaristic, economic and ideological offensive. The government has since made no efforts to prepare itself for this war.
An Al-Shabaab spokesman who spoke after Hayat Hotel siege mocked Somali president, saying he is a “stupid man” who repeatedly threatened offensive without making any preparations. Elders and MPs accused Mohamud of declaring a war without mobilization for a showdown with militants. They blamed his remarks for the deadly attack on Hayat Hotel.
Instead of making preparations for an all-out offensive to dislodge militants from a large swathe of territory stretching from the outskirts of Mogadishu to the Ethiopian and Kenyan borders, the government has begun mobilizing local clan militias in Hiran region, who have begun fighting against insurgents. But militants have carried out retaliatory attacks killing at least 20 people, whom they say were armed militias, on Saturday alone.
According to security experts, the decades-long conflict in Somalia has no end in sight.
Cooperation with federal member states
Despite his slogan of “Somalia at peace with itself”, Mohamud antagonized regional states that allied with him ahead of his election and those that were with his opponent, the former president of Somalia Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo.
He reportedly reneged on promises that he would name Puntland President Saeed Abdullahi Deni as Prime Minister and instead picked Hamza Abdi Barre, who comes from Jubaland state, triggering the ire of authorities in Garowe.
Appointment of antagonists of regional belligerents to the cabinet has worsened tensions and rift between the federal government and regional states.
As a result, Somalia’s five regional states said last week that they had suspended cooperation with the federal government, citing President Mohamud’s failure to keep promises and previous agreements.
Presidents of Jubaland and Puntland states have extended their terms due to fear of federal government-backed opposition. Other states including Galmudug are expected to follow suit.
Tensions between the federal and regional states have crippled the former administration of Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and caused dysfunction by authorities in the fight against insurgents.
In his first 100 days in office, Mohamud visited 8 countries including Turkey, Egypt and Kenya for talks to strengthen cooperation. He asked some of the countries for support in his government’s agenda to restore peace, fight insurgents and tackle a worsening drought.
But by visiting Egypt and discussing Nile dam dispute with the Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Somali president infuriated Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed whose government has thousands of troops supporting Somali government in the fight against militants.
Historically, Addis Ababa has been a key ally of Somali administrations over the past decades, providing them with military support and sending thousands of troops still stationed in the country.
Abiy has begun forging ties with regional states, sidelining Mohamud’s government, though Somali authorities have not yet commented on the move. Frosty relations with Ethiopia, Horn of Africa’s powerful anchor state, will surely weaken Somali president’s resolve and efforts to stabilize his troubled nation, analysts say. It also serves contrary to his policy promise of “Somalia at peace with its neighbors”.
Somalia is currently facing the worst drought in decades that has displaced more than quarter of a million people from their homes. After taking office, Somali president promised to deal with impact of this unfolding crisis but nothing has so far been done to provide aid to millions in need.
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