Somalia among trouble spots to watch in 2019-report

By Fauxile Kibet

Somalia has been named among countries considered to be trouble spots in Africa, where the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) should closely monitor this year.

A recent report by the International Crisis Group (ICG) notes that the countries which include Nigeria, DR. Congo, Comoros, Sudan and South Sudan are likely to experience conflict either due to elections or internal conflict.

The report says that the political conflict between Mogadishu and leaders of the regional semi-autonomous states has continued, despite the leadership change in South West.

The declaration of UN Secretary General’s special envoy Nicholas Haysom Persona non-grata by the Somali state government raised questions over the Somali-UN relations.

Haysom was accused of interfering with internal affairs of the East African country after he sent a letter to the internal security minister questioning the legality of the arrest of Mukhtar Robow, a former Al Shabaab leader, and urging an inquiry into civilian casualties during protests over his arrest in Baidoa.

The report adds that the Al Shabaab terror group remains a threat to the peace, security and stability of Somalia, as well as Kenya, which a recent UN reports warned it to be vigilant in 2019.

The UN Monitoring Group report also warned over the presence of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant faction in Somalia.

It also observed that the conflict between Somaliland and Puntland, misappropriation of financial resources, and maritime piracy remain major hurdles.

LITTLE TO SHOW

While South Sudan marks close to four months since the peace agreement was signed, the report says that there is little to show in terms of its implementation.

“The September agreement satisfies — for now — the two antagonists’ interests and those of Presidents Omar al-Bashir of Sudan and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, the two regional leaders with the most sway in South Sudan. Most importantly, it has reduced violence,” the ICG report says.

However it notes that the deal is a work in progress and worrying, because it envisages elections in 2022, perpetuating the Kiir-Machar rivalry until then, paving the way for another showdown.

“Most alarming, security arrangements for Juba, the capital, remain contested, as do plans for unifying a national army.”

In Sudan, the report notes that President Omar al-Bashir faces what could be a serious challenge to his 30-year rule.

Protesters have been taking to the streets in many towns and cities since December 19, protesting against high food prices and demanding that President al-Bashir step down.

On the other hand, the opposition has formed a coalition to bring down the government of President al-Bashir and analysts are concerned that the government could escalate repression given that the International Criminal Court for atrocities in Darfur has indicted the president.

22 opposition parties have withdrawn from the government of national unity and the ruling National Congress is accusing the opposition of trying to incite the military to overthrow the government.

MOST TROUBLED

The report says that Nigeria is leading the pack as it is expected to hold elections in February. President Muhammadu Buhari will be facing it off with his fiercest opponent and former vice president Atiku Abubakar – in a country where elections have been characterized with violence.

The war against Boko Haram militants was also noted as being a factor that could cause trouble in the West African country.

The election has attracted 39 presidential candidates and President Buhari’s All Progressives Congress suffered massive defections to the opposition last year.

In DR. Congo, Suspicion is building over the elections held on December 30 and whose results are taking longer than usual to be released.

Opposition groups led by Martin Fayulu have already declared that they won the elections and any results to the contrary will not be accepted, while the government side says they do not expect to lose.

Various militia groups that have been opposed to President Joseph Kabila have warned that they are likely to resist should the government rig the results in favor of Emmanuel Ramazani Shady.

Comoros is also on the watch list following attempts by president Azali Assoumani to retain power beyond 2021 when his time expires.

President Assoumani forced a referendum that overturned an agreement on rotational presidency between the three islands. He has also forced some opposition leaders into exile.

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