President Museveni in Mogadishu for IGAD Extra-Ordinary Summit

Tuesday 13th September 2016

President Yoweri Museveni has today arrived in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, to attend the first ever regional summit of Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) member countries to be hosted by the horn of Africa state in since the organization’s inception in 1986. It is also the first time Somalia is hosting a summit involving heads of state and government in over 43 years.

The President was welcomed upon arrival at Mogadishu International Airport by the Somalia Federal Government Minister of Internal Security, Abdi Rizak Omar, Uganda’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, Mr. Mull Katende, Uganda’s Ambassador to Somalia, Prof. Sam Turyamuhika, Deputy Ambassador, Major General Nathan Mugisha, the Deputy Special Representative to the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Ms. Lydia Wanyoto, and the Commander of Ugandan Troops in Somalia, Brig. Samuel Okiding.

President Museveni and his host, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, were joined by other heads of state and government from the current chair Ethiopia, Kenya, while Sudan and Djibouti were represented. The one day IGAD extra-ordinary summit of heads of state and government will be hosted at Peace Business Group of Hotels near Mogadishu International Airport. A joint communique on the outcomes of the summit was expected from the Kenyan Foreign Minister later in the day.

The summit, which is a major vote of confidence by regional leaders in President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and his leadership, will focus on progress made in the peace and security sector and the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections next month on 30th October. Despite visible and remarkable improvements in security around the capital, the Alshabaab group still poses a potent threat, and as a result, a tight security blanket has been imposed at the venue and the greater part of Mogadishu.

Museveni was last in Somalia in November 2010 in a surprise, daring and morale boosting visit to AMISOM and Ugandan troops that were involved in fierce battles for the liberation of Mogadishu from the grip of Alshabaab, who controlled almost three quarters of the capital at the time. After much resistance, the terror group was eventually driven out of the capital by July 2011.

Security Beefed Up

One of the pressing concerns in the build up to this summit was security and the preparedness of the authorities to host a major summit involving several heads of government and a huge international delegation.

The Ugandan Special Forces (SFC), part of the UPDF contingent serving under AMISOM, has been tasked with the important duty of securing the leaders, diplomats and visiting delegations. They are backed by the rest of the Ugandan contingent and Somalia national security forces.

Uganda, with the biggest contingent under AMISOM at over 6000 troops, guards sector one of Banadir and Lower Shabelle regions, which includes Mogadishu.  Sector two is under the Kenyans, with headquarters in the port of Kismayo in Juba region of southern Somalia. Sector three, near the Ethiopian border with Somalia, is dominated by the Ethiopians, while the Burundians make up sector 4 in middle Shabelle and the Djiboutians in sector five of the Hiraan region.

Although the Alshabaab has been greatly weakened, it still remains dangerous. The group has resorted to guerilla and terrorist tactics. Driving through the heart of the city, it is evident why. Hotels and key government buildings are heavily barricaded to prevent infiltration by suicide bombers. Occasional mortar attacks and sectarian inspired assassinations are still a problem, but the fact that the regional leaders are gathered here is a big statement of political and diplomatic intent.

The Upcoming Elections

This is the general elections season in Somalia, and the stakes are high. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s tenure expired last month in August, having been elected in 2012 for a four-year term. However, the country is still some way off from a universal adult suffrage, although this is expected to be the case by 2020.

A system of indirect elections of leaders agreed upon by the National Leaders Forum (NLF) through electoral colleges will be employed. Members of Parliament, in a bicameral legislature of lower and upper houses, will be elected by clan electoral colleges composed of 50 people appointed by clan leaders. The MP’s will then elect the President and Speaker for the fresh new term of office. The Federal Indirect Electoral Implementing Team (FIEIT) with funding from development partners has been constituted to deliver a fair and transparent election process.

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