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REGIONAL POLITICS

Amisom boss caught up in Somalia politics over elections

Madeira, who was appointed Amisom chief in October 2015, is being accused of interfering with Somalia’s domestic politics, all linked to the forthcoming national elections.

In Summary

• A senior official of the African Union Mission in Somalia warned that it is being “plagued by huge management and leadership challenges” under Ambassador Madeira.

On May 26,  18 members of Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament had signed a petition calling for the removal of Madeira, over remarks he made at a UN meeting of the UN Security Council on May 21.

Head of Amisom and AU special representative to Somalis Ambassador Fransisco Madeira speaking during an interview on Amisom operations in Mogadishu
Head of Amisom and AU special representative to Somalis Ambassador Fransisco Madeira speaking during an interview on Amisom operations in Mogadishu
Image: FILE

Amisom boss Ambassador Francisco Madeira is a man under siege.

This is after a senior official of the African Union Mission in Somalia warned that it is being “plagued by huge management and leadership challenges” under Ambassador Madeira.

Amisom Analysis Cell head Dr Walters Samah said in a leaked internal report circulated to the media that if not addressed, such challenges “could undermine the African Union’s current and future role in Somalia”.

 

He accused Madeira of “introducing an erratic management and leadership style, characterised by fear, suspicion, threats, corruption, favouritism, demeaning, bullying and intimidation”.

But in a rejoinder on May 29, Amisom said there is no lack of leadership in the mission, and that it is managed by “a senior Mission Leadership Team which sees to it that Amisoms’s operations are guided by the highest ethical principles and standards derived from African Union values in order to enhance the protection of staff and the integrity of the AU”.

Further, the statement said the document made unfounded allegations against Amisom leadership and the Federal Government of Somalia.

“It is full of inconsistencies, generalizations, innuendoes and biased toxic personal opinion. The Amisom that is described in the document does not fit the reality of the Amisom currently operating in Somalia under the leadership of Ambassador Francisco Madeira. Amisom rejects these allegations as they distort and misrepresent the mission, its work, its leadership and its achievements.”

We, however, insist on the need to go further and make sure that all clans come together in an all-Jubbaland stakeholders’ congregation to find a lasting solution to the political, social and economic problems that continue to besiege that federal member state
Ambassador Francisco Madeira

But this is just part of the woes facing the veteran peace diplomat from Mozambique.

On May 26, a report by Somali Affairs said 18 members of Somalia’s Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament had signed a petition calling for the removal of Madeira, over remarks he made at a meeting of the UN Security Council on May 21.

In his address, Madeira referred to an agreement between Jubbaland president Ahmed Madobe and his political rivals as that of one clan in the region.

 

“We, however, insist on the need to go further and make sure that all clans come together in an all-Jubbaland stakeholders’ congregation to find a lasting solution to the political, social and economic problems that continue to besiege that federal member state,” Madeira told the UNSC.

In his response, Madobe termed the remarks as ‘unacceptable and unethical”

“Jubbaland state warns that reducing the local effort of peace building to clannism is to undermine a genuine reconciliation process and promotes clannism which might lead to destruction and insecurity in the region,” a statement released Monday, May 25, read in part.

Madeira, who was appointed Amisom chief in October 2015, is now being accused of interfering with Somalia’s domestic politics, all linked to the forthcoming national elections.

“The opposition sees Madeira as  President Farmaajo’s guy and are trying to get rid of him. He has also not done himself many favours with the comments on clans  in Jubaland,” a commentator on Somalia politics said.

INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY AND OPPOSITION STAND

The international community and opposition parties are also worried about the government’s readiness to hold the 2020-21 elections as scheduled, warning against the extension of mandate for the Mohamed Farmaajo administration.

“I’m disappointed by the decision of the leadership of Somalia Parliament to delay the presentation of the electoral commission by a month. This is a violation of the provisional constitution and elections law. We warn against any attempt to extend the mandate of the government,” Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, the seventh President of Somalia, tweeted on May 26.

Dr Kani Torun, Former Turkish ambassador to Somalia, said the African Union should not meddle into domestic politics in Somalia.

“AU should remain neutral between political groups otherwise they will undermine the fragile stability,” he said.

Turkey is one of the countries that have interests in Somalia.

EU Ambassador to Somalia Nicolas Berlanga said on May 26 that his mission in Somalia is concerned at any possible repercussion the new date of the National Independent Electoral Commission’s appearance before Parliament may have on timely elections.

But Upper House of the Somali Federal Parliament Speaker Abdi Hashi Abdullahi in an interview with a local publication said the presidential and parliamentary elections will be held on time.

Concerns were raised due to the delay in the opening of Parliament’s seventh’s session and the  postponement of the reading of a report by the electoral agency.

Speaker Abdullahi said the country was facing various challenges, key among them the Covid-19, which he said affected the work of the federal Parliament. As of June 4, Somalia had 2, 146 coronavirus cases and registered 79 deaths.

Somalia Ambassador to the UN Abukakar Dahir Osman told the UNSC his country is determined to conduct a one-man, one-vote election by the end of Farmaajo’s term.

He, however, warned countries with peacekeeping forces in the country against meddling in Somalia’s political affairs.

Already, a group of opposition parties have accused Ethiopia of  interference  and called for the withdrawal of non-Amisom Ethiopian troops from the country.

The Forum for National Parties led by former President Ahmed, the Wadajir Party led by opposition leader Abdirahman Warsame, Hiigsi Coalition of Political Parties and the First July Alliance for Change accused the forces of meddling in domestic politics.

“We, the undersigned political parties, are gravely concerned about the increasing presence of non-Amisom troops of the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) in several parts of Somalia. This unilateral action by Ethiopia constitutes a blatant disregard for the longstanding agreement between the Federal Republic of Somalia and the Amisom troop contributing countries (TCC), which clearly defines the scope of the African Union peacekeeping mission in our country,” they said in a statement.

“We are particularly appalled by the May 4th downing of a civilian plane carrying medical supplies for Berdale residents (in the South West State) and by the cavalier attitude with which the ENDF officials responded to the tragic loss of life by maligning the integrity of the professional crew of the plane,” they added.

We urge President Farmaajo to call a meeting of the National Security Council, as required by the Constitution, as soon as possible to discuss elections planning, security cooperation, and other urgent national priorities
Ambassador Cherith Norman Chalet

They also accused Madeira of turning a blind eye to the presence of the non-Amisom Ethiopian troops and even blamed him for colluding with them in interfering in elections in South West and Jubbaland states.

They, as aresult, called on the AU to replace Ambassador Madeira with “a neutral and experienced diplomat who discharges his duties faithfully.”

The US, a key player in peace and security in the Horn region, called on the Federal Government to convene a national security meeting for all national and regional leaders.

“We urge President Farmaajo to call a meeting of the National Security Council, as required by the Constitution, as soon as possible to discuss elections planning, security cooperation, and other urgent national priorities,” Ambassador Cherith Norman Chalet, the acting Deputy Permanent Representative, US Mission to the UN, said.

But how practical is it to hold elections in 2020-21?

Abdimalik Abdullahi,  a researcher and analyst of Somali politics, writes that although universal suffrage deeply resonates with the Somali people and it is a constitutional right, it is impractical at the moment.

“Election prerequisites like national registration, the constitutional court for potential election disputes that may arise and most importantly security have not been met,” he writes in Hiiraan Online.