A drought-hit country mired in violence, chaos since 1991- The New Indian Express

A drought-hit country mired in violence, chaos since 1991- The New Indian Express


MOGADISHU: Somalia has been mired in chaos since the fall of the military regime of president Siad Barre in 1991, which was followed by civil war and the rise of the Al-Shabaab Islamist militant group.

The Al-Qaeda-linked group tried to take over the country before being driven out of the capital Mogadishu in 2011 but it remains a potent and deadly force.

Somalia is also grappling with another devastating drought in many areas that has left millions hungry.

ALSO READ | 13 civilians dead as Somali forces battle Al-Shabaab at besieged Mogadishu hotel

2011: Al-Shabaab driven from Mogadishu

Al-Shabaab is routed from Mogadishu by government forces backed by troops from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

The Islamists retain control over vast rural areas, from which they frequently launch deadly attacks on AU and Somali forces as well as political and civilian targets.

The Horn of Africa reels from terrible drought, and famine in Somalia kills 260,000 people — half of them children under the age of six.

2012: New government

A new parliament is sworn in, after the adoption of a provisional constitution.

The international community formally recognises the new federal government and extends billions in aid.

Lawmakers elect former academic Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as president. His term is marked by corruption scandals and infighting.

2013, 2015: Attacks in Kenya

Al-Shabaab claims responsibility for an 80-hour siege of Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall in 2013, which leaves at least 67 people dead.

The jihadists say the attack was in retaliation for Nairobi’s 2011 military intervention in Somalia.

Two years later, they claim an attack on a university in Garissa in eastern Kenya in which 148 people are killed.

2017: Deadliest attack

In February, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, better known as Farmajo, defeats Mohamud’s bid for re-election and is chosen as president by MPs tasked by clan elders with picking the country’s leader.

In October, a truck packed with explosives blows up in a bustling commercial district in Mogadishu, killing 512 people. Somalia’s deadliest attack is blamed on Al-Shabaab.

2020: Election chaos

Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire is ousted by a parliamentary no-confidence vote in July, officially for having failed to organise elections by universal suffrage.

Two months later Mohamed Hussein Roble is appointed in his place and a new election timetable is cobbled together.

In December, US President Donald Trump orders the withdrawal of most of the around 700 US troops stationed in Somalia to help fight Al-Shabaab and other Islamist groups.

An ambulance seen at the site of August 20, 2022’s hotel attack in Mogadishu. (Photo | AFP)

2021: Political crisis

On February 7, Farmajo’s mandate runs out but the federal government and regional states fail to agree on a mechanism for electing his successor.

In April, parliament extends his mandate by two years, triggering gun battles in Mogadishu.

In May, Farmajo turns to Roble to help defuse the situation by asking him to organise elections.

But relations between the two men sharply deteriorate. In December, Farmajo sacks Roble but the premier refuses to step down, accusing the president of an attempted “coup”.

ALSO READ | Fleeing drought, hunger thousands trek to Somalia’s capital

2022: Elections at last

In January, Roble and regional leaders strike a deal to wrap up parliamentary elections by February 25 but the vote is delayed several times.

On March 31, the UN Security Council votes for AMISOM to be replaced by ATMIS (AU Transitional Mission in Somalia), with a view to helping Somali forces take primary responsibility for security by the end of 2024.

The presidential election is set for May 15. Following a marathon three-round vote by lawmakers, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is elected president, becoming the first Somali leader to win a second term.

Shortly afterwards, the US announces it is reestablishing a troop presence in Somalia, and in July and August it reports killing a number of Al-Shabaab fighters in air strikes.

In July, the jihadists attack a military base on the border with Ethiopia and launch incursions into Somalia’s western neighbour.

The UN says in August that one million people have been driven from their home by the worst drought in 40 years, with starvation “haunting the entire country”.

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