Briefing the Council, Raisedon Zenenga, deputy head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), reported that Somalia had made significant progress on its economic and security sector reforms
“The Federal Government has decided to apply the same rigorous approach to bring accountability and transparency to the security sector,” he said, noting, among other recent steps, the completion in March of biometric registration of all Somali National Army soldiers. All 16,000 soldiers registered were now receiving their salaries directly into their bank accounts.
“This has cut out middlemen, reduced corruption, and ensures regular payment of salaries to military personnel. It also paves the way for rightsizing the National Army,” said Zenenga.
In parallel with these security sector reforms, the Federal Governments had launched military operations in Lower Shabelle region to advance the Transition Plan, degrade Al Shabaab in strongholds that are contiguous to Mogadishu and thereby halt the recent increase in Al Shabaab attacks in the capital.
Yet, Somalia continued to grapple with significant challenges, he said, explaining that the Federal Government’s reform efforts have encountered “inevitable” resistance. The economic reforms and security sector reforms entail dismantling a war economy that had flourished for decades.
“There are many vested interests which pose obstacles to increased accountability. Taking on these vested interests requires not only the determination, which the Federal Government has shown, but an inclusive approach of building relationships with all stakeholders to demonstrate that the reforms will yield benefits for the whole nation,” Zenenga stressed.
He also noted that the dialogue between Somalia and Somaliland, which also has implications for the completion of the constitutional review process, remains stalled. “We are, however, encouraged by ‘Somaliland’ President Muse Bihi’s remarks on 18 May expressing his readiness to promote peace with Puntland, including through the exchange of prisoners, and to cooperate with Somalia on issues related to security, trade and education.”
Recalling that UNSOM began the new year facing a security crisis as a result of the mortar attack on the UN compound on 1 January, and a political crisis as a result of the expulsion of the special representative of the Secretary-General Nicholas Haysom on the same day, Zenenga said the two incidents had severely disrupted the Mission’s engagement with the Federal Government of Somalia and had also elevated the security risk level for UN personnel and left our staff deeply demoralized.
While the Mission had immediately prioritized the safety and security of its staff while concentrating political efforts on mending relations with the Federal Government, Zenenga underscored that a lasting solution to the continuing security threat “will come from denying Al Shabaab space and opportunities to prepare and launch attacks.”