Somalia on transformative path despite enormous setbacks, says UN envoy
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Somalia could get back on the right track should key issues are implemented within the agreeable time frame, UN envoy James Swan has noted, despite noting "enormous" challenges.
This year the country is expected flurry of social-economic and political matters, with the latter likely to dominate due to planned elections in December.
Among the top agenda for Somalia, this year include achieving debt relief, holding universal suffrage polls, finalizing the federal constitution, neutralizing the Al-Shabaab among others.
But already, the country has taken huge strides in has $4.8 billion debt written off, besides putting in place transformative fiscal laws, Swan noted while addressing UNSC on Monday.
The Executive Boards of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, he said, "have confirmed Somalia’s eligibility for debt relief under the Enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative".
Further, progress has been noted in key legislation meant to strengthen the fiscal network, among them Companies Act and Public Financial Management, he said.
According to him, the 2020 budget approved by Parliament and signed by President Mohamed Abdullahi ‘Farmajo’ "reflected steadily increasing" revenue generation.
Somalia has depended on foreign aid for decades following the ouster of military regime under Siad Barre in 1991, with the country also embroiled in deadly inter-clan conflicts and Al-Shabaab threat.
But of major concern, Swan narrated, the animosity between FGS and federal states, a standoff which could derail reforms.
Farmajo has been at loggerheads with regional leaders among them Said Deni of Puntland and Jubaland's Ahmed Madobe, with suspicions among them leading to unprecedented hostility.
"The protracted absence of a broad political consensus on the way forward in 2020 remains a threat to further progress," Swan said, noting that only dialogue can save the situation.
Although the country has made strides in holding a one-person-one-vote election, a number of factors could hinder the determination, Swan added.
Regrettably, he said, the newly signed electoral law does not address affirmative action concerns and location of boundaries, further making it almost untenable to hold polls in time.
National Independent Electoral Commission [NIEC], Swan said, "must work with FGS, federal states, and other stakeholders to unravel the quagmire".
President Farmajo assented to the bill last week, although the NIEC is yet to settle on political parties law, which is equally indispensable in the electoral process.
But the frequent Al-Shabaab raids across the country are also suicidal in the country's progressive agenda, despite efforts to degrade the group.
Since 2019, he said, "military operations against the militants have slowed down due to various factors, giving Al-Shabaab unprecedented space for attacks".
Despite efforts by the SNA, AMISOM, and international partners, regrettably, Al Shabaab retains the ability to conduct large scale attacks, he noted.
The group has been causing havoc across the country, with the most recent coming last week at Lower Shebelle where over 25 SNA troops were killed.
"It is also able to generate significant revenue through extortion, as well as to conduct operations beyond Somalia’s borders," he said.
Over 22,000 UN troops are currently aiding the fragile federal government, although the team is set to be scaled down by 1,000 as part of cost-saving by March this year.