Somalia: A deadly, chaotic decade

File Photo/Somali Times


Somalia, where a controversial law has just extended the president’s expired term by two years, is mired in a political crisis over the failure to organise elections.

The country has been in chaos since the fall of the military regime of President Siad Barre in 1991, followed by a clan war and the ascendance of the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab, which has carried out a spate of deadly attacks.

A timeline since 2011:

Shabaab driven from Mogadishu

The Shabaab are driven out of Mogadishu in 2011 after an offensive by an African Union force, gradually losing most of their strongholds. But they still control vast rural zones, from which they regularly launch deadly attacks on the African force’s bases in Mogadishu as well as in Kenya. Thousands have been killed in the attacks.

New constitution

A new parliament is sworn in in 2012, after the adoption of a new constitution. It elects Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as president.

Attacks on Kenya

The Shabaab claim responsibility for an 80-hour siege of Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall in 2013, which leaves at least 67 people dead. They say it was in retaliation for Kenya’s military intervention in Somalia. They then in 2015 claim an attack on the Kenyan university of Garissa, in which 148 people die.

Clan system

Some 14,000 delegated voters in 2016 elect new deputies, from candidates mainly chosen in advance by consensus representing each clan or sub-clan. In 2017, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, best known by his nickname Farmaajo, is elected president by deputies.

American strikes

Washington in 2017 extends the powers given to US troops to carry out strikes on the Shabaab.

Deadliest attack

In October that year a truck packed with explosives blows up in a bustling commercial district in Mogadishu, killing 512 people and injuring 295, in the deadliest attack in Somalia blamed on the Shabaab.
No universal suffrage poll

Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire falls to a no-confidence vote in parliament in July 2020, officially for having failed to organise elections by universal suffrage. Two months later the president agrees with five regional leaders and the mayor of Mogadishu on the organisation of elections on a basis of indirect suffrage, before the end of his term in February 2021.

American withdrawal

Outgoing US president Donald Trump in December 2020 orders the withdrawal of most American troops from Somalia by early 2021.

Political crisis

Talks between the federal government and regional states on elections break up without agreement in February 2021. An alliance of opposition candidates declares the president, whose term has just expired, illegitimate.

Term extended

On April 12, Somalia’s lower house of parliament votes to extend the president’s mandate for two years, a decision judged unconstitutional by the speaker of the upper house. Two days later Farmaajo signs the controversial law, despite threats of sanctions from the international community which has pressed for elections.

Source: AFP