Araweelo News Network
This article was originally published by the Council on Foreign Relations.
AMISOM soldiers patrol in the Somali capital Mogadishu, April 12, 2015. The 22,000-strong force plays a crucial role in maintaining security in Somalia, in the face of a looming threat from Al-Shabab.Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP/Getty Images
Later in 2016, Somalia looks to continue its recent progress by holding a successful parliamentary election. The election provides an opportunity to improve governance in the country and could illustrate the improvement Somalia has made to the donor community, international businesses, and the world. But enormous pitfalls remain and Somalia’s partners, including the United States, have expressed concerns about the process. This election could prove to be disastrous and set Somalia back if not handled correctly. To cope with these pitfalls, Somalia is forced to rely on an already strained African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) to secure this election, but international support appears to be waning for the African Union (AU) force. The AU should reaffirm its commitment to Somalia and implore member and donor nations to not give up on AMISOM, and Somalia, yet.
As Somalia approaches the election, slated for September 2016, the most obvious sources of disruption will probably come from the terrorist group Al-Shabab and the self-proclaimed Islamic State militant group (ISIS). Both will likely try to play spoiler in this process as both have used politically or religiously important events to magnify the relevance of their attacks. Beyond typical security concerns, there are also humanitarian concerns that could mar the election. Somalia’s neighbor, Ethiopia is already in the grips of the worst drought in decades and reports have started to come in from Somalia of similar conditions. Further, El Nino may actually bring increased rainfall to Somalia this year, potentially causing flooding and washing away crops. As The Economist points out, the aid community is already stretched thin by situations in Yemen and Syria, and ongoing issues with refugees in Europe.
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