Somalia. In January, in the autonomous Puntland, Parliament elected a new president. In the third round of voting, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali received one vote more than the incumbent President, Abdirahman Mohamed Farole. According to Countryaah.com, Somalia population in 2020 is estimated at 15,893,233. Abdiweli Mohamed Ali is an economist with both Somali and US citizenship and was Somalia’s Prime Minister 2011-12.
In January, Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed, who was appointed in December, also presented his government. Confidence in the government and in President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud fell during the year. Among other things, Turkey withdrew its monthly support to the government in February. In May, more than 100 MEPs signed a petition calling for the president’s resignation. Accusations of corruption and the fact that the security situation in the country, not least in the capital Mogadishu, was still poor were among the main reasons for the dissatisfaction inside and outside the country.
The relationship between the president and the prime minister gradually deteriorated, negatively affecting Parliament’s work. The power struggle culminated in December when Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed lost a vote of no confidence in Parliament and then announced his resignation, less than a year after he took office. He was replaced by Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, who led the Somali Transitional Government in 2009-10.
Just as in recent years, the militant Islamist movement al-Shabab and its acts of violence were in focus in 2014. In recent years, the militia has been pushed back with the help of, among other Kenyan forces, and in retaliation al-Shabab has become increasingly active in Kenya. During the year, al-Shabab took on a number of attacks in the neighboring country, which in total cost hundreds of people, even though the Kenyan government blamed domestic opposition on several occasions. In addition to Kenya’s involvement in Somalia, al-Shabab stated, as a reason for its actions, the fact that Somali refugees were being persecuted in Kenya. In March, the Kenyan government ordered the approximately 100,000 Somalis living outside the huge refugee camps of Dabaab and Kakuma to return there.
Although al-Shabab lost territory during the year and was ousted in October from Baraawe, the last of the port cities previously controlled by the movement, it posed a serious threat, not least to the country’s elected politicians. On two occasions, terrorists made attacks in the well-guarded area of Mogadishu where the president, prime minister and several ministers live. In February, at least eleven people were killed by a car bomb near the presidential palace, Villa Somalia, and in July al-Shabaab managed to enter the area where the residence is located. The attack could be reversed, but the incident resulted in the dismissal of the country’s police chief and the head of the intelligence service.
After killing two MPs in April and injuring one, al-Shabab stated that the movement’s goal is to kill everyone in Parliament. In May the parliament building was attacked and at least ten people were killed in the fighting. In July, another MP was murdered and the following month another member was shot while leaving a mosque.
In September, al-Shabab’s leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane (also known as Mukhtar Abu Zubayr) was killed in a US drone attack. He was succeeded by Ahmed Umar Abu Ubaidah. At the end of December, Zakariya Ahmed Ismail Hersi, a former al-Shabab leader who was arrested, left the group two years earlier.
The situation in Somalia was further aggravated when the country was hit by drought. The UN warned in July of an imminent food crisis, and the following month the government appealed for help from the outside world so that the famine disaster in 2011 would not recur. In October, the UN warned of an aggravated humanitarian situation, partly due to the drought, but also to the fact that al-Shabaab prevented food supplies from arriving. Due to the organization’s blockade, several of the emergency broadcasts must take place by air.
At the end of October, the UN Security Council passed a resolution granting countries the right to inspect ships off the coast of Somalia. The purpose is to put an end to those who violate the embargo on charcoal exports from Somalia, one of al-Shabab’s major sources of income.
One of the bright spots during the year was that the Somalis from October could again send mail within the country, which has not been possible in about 20 years. In October, the first ATM in Mogadishu was also installed.