Local elections will not offset anger over border clashes, insurgencies, and corruption.
Somalia has a significant year ahead, with subnational elections looming and security and economic woes likely to continue.
President of the Puntland region Abdiweli Mohamed Ali Gaas recently announced that he would seek reelection when voters go to polls on January 8. Many note his failures to fulfill his 2014 election promises and reports have surfaced accusing him of attempting to fix elections by sending presidential employees to constituencies and pressuring or blocking elders’ choice of representatives.
The ongoing border disputes with neighboring de facto state Somaliland hit new heights of violence in 2018, with twenty clashes reported since January. Both sides claim sovereignty over disputed regions and efforts at mediation between leaders petered out over the past year. Given the apparent reluctance on both sides to address this issue, as well as parliamentary elections in Somaliland in April, it is unlikely that 2019 will see the end of this conflict.
Entrenched insurgencies by the likes of Al-Shabaab and Islamic State in Somalia will continue to spread instability. The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has had limited success in reducing the presence of the terrorist organisations, particularly Al-Shabaab, which maintains its southern stronghold of Jilib and holds more territory than any point since 2010. AMISOM’s recently unveiled Concept of Operations offensive for 2019 will be a decisive test in Somalia’s battle with its protracted insurgency and its results will lay bare AMISOM’s logistical proficiency, which has been dogged by criticisms.
Mogadishu, a terminus for those fleeing the countryside, is buckling from the strain of housing the internally displaced. Malnutrition arising from a lack of food, water, shelter, and sanitation is major concern for those contemplating the city’s future. Unaddressed corruption riddles Somalia’s public institutions, with bribes, business based on patronage, and tight monopolies appearing set to continue undermining Somalia’s economy and nurturing discontent in 2019.