UN Security Council to Address Somalia’s Political and Security Challenges

Examining Somalia’s ongoing political turmoil and escalating security threats will be the focus on Monday as the United Nations Security Council convenes for an open briefing followed by closed consultations. Leading the session will be Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, James Swan, and Special Representative of the AU Commission Chairperson for Somalia, Mohamed El-Amine Souef.

Marking Swan’s first briefing since resuming his role in May, he is expected to present the latest political, economic, and security developments in Somalia based on the Secretary-General’s June 3 report. Covering key issues such as recent constitutional amendments, rising tensions with Ethiopia, and the ongoing threat posed by Al-Shabaab.

Introducing significant amendments to the provisional constitution, Somalia’s Federal Parliament approved changes on March 30. Transitioning to a one-person, one-vote election system and providing for direct presidential elections, moving away from the traditional clan-based formula. Sparking controversy, these reforms led Puntland, a semi-autonomous region, to announce on March 31 that it would withdraw recognition of the federal government and refrain from participating in National Consultative Council meetings.

Highlighting another major topic, Somalia has requested to terminate the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) by the end of its mandate in October. Circulating letters to Council members in May, Somalia called for a swift conclusion of the necessary procedures for this transition. Requesting the Secretary-General to engage with the Somali government to determine the modalities and timeline for the transition and provide an update by the end of August.

Adding to Somalia’s political complexity, rising tensions with Ethiopia have exacerbated the situation. Signing a memorandum of understanding between Ethiopia and Somaliland on January 1, Somalia expelled Ethiopia’s Ambassador in Mogadishu on April 4 and closed Ethiopian consulates in Garowe and Hargeisa. Calling for Ethiopian troops to leave the country by the end of December, Somalia’s National Security Advisor coincided this move with the planned drawdown of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS). However, this has faced opposition from Somalia’s Jubaland and Southwest states, which rely on Ethiopian forces for security.

Addressing the ongoing security threat posed by Al-Shabaab, a terrorist group affiliated with Al-Qaida, the meeting will also focus on this issue. Documenting a significant increase in civilian casualties due to Al-Shabaab’s use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the Secretary-General’s report recorded 340 civilian deaths, including 146 fatalities, between January 25 and May 25, marking a 104 percent increase compared to the previous reporting period.

Highlighting ATMIS’ support for Somali security forces in countering Al-Shabaab, Souef is expected to discuss the progress of ATMIS’ drawdown process. Engaging in discussions about post-ATMIS security arrangements to prevent any security vacuum.

Endorsing the establishment of a new AU-led, UN-authorized mission for Somalia to support the federal government in post-ATMIS security arrangements, the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) has recently made this decision. Following a technical assessment conducted by the AU’s Peace Support Operations Division, the AUPSC has requested the AU Commission to develop financing options for the new mission and submit a concept of operations by the end of July.

Meeting on Monday, Council members are likely to discuss the mandate extension for ATMIS, which is set to expire on June 30. Circulating a draft resolution on this matter is still pending from the UK, the penholder on Somalia.

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