EDITORIAL: Security lapses a threat to fragile mutual trust in Somalia
EDITORIAL | Somalia’s outgoing Federal Government officials must adequately clarify the security incident in which a convoy of former President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was shot in Mogadishu.
The Wednesday afternoon incident saw the Custodial Corps, Somalia’s prison guards, shoot at Ms. Mohamud’s entourage. His allies have claimed it was an assassination attempt.
But whether we agree with that label or not, it is something that the Federal Government should investigate and provide adequate information not just to Mr Mohamud but to the public in general.
Coming just a week after stakeholders reached a useful deal to organize indirect elections, a shoot-out is an unwanted risk to that agreement, especially if it involves a presidential contender.
So far, the government hasn’t helped after officials contradicted themselves. Justice Minister Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur called it “accidental.” But Gen Mahad Abdirahman, the head of the Custodial Corps refused to take responsibility. He argued his forces were attacked first.
This contradiction, rather than clarify that there had been no plan to attack the ex-President, has led to suspicions that the security agencies are still not under centralized control yet.
For Somalia, that can have serious implications. Back in April, a divided army and policy saw camps created along political and clan lines. The country had been on the brink, partly fueled by outgoing President Mohamed Farmajo’s then unhinged ambition to extend his term. That Somalia’s tension reduced is large because stakeholders agreed to resume talks after Farmajo agreed to step back on the extension.
There has always been subtle mistrust, however, seen through the appointments of electoral managers as well as the security provisions. Under Somali law, all ex-presidents are supposed to be given adequate security, which is the minimum Mohamud required in his daily engagements.
It is the second time an opposition leader has been targeted. Back in March, a hotel where opposition leaders were lodging was attacked at the height of tensions over delayed elections. At the time, the leaders demanded that rogue officers involved in the attack be fired and prosecuted. After a series of discussions, the officers were saved, but the federal government promised to provide a thorough investigation.
The shoot-out on Wednesday could now raise a cloud of old dust. The Federal Government of Somalia retains adequate duty to investigate the matter and dissuade the opposition groups not to think their lives are at stake.
In an electioneering period, even planned incidents can have unintended consequences. And if the shoot-out was accidental, the public may want to know how else the government is preventing a repeat.
The last few works were scary for Somalia. It should be in everyone’s interest to guard the fragile trust that has ensued since last week when the leaders reached a deal. Security is going to be a great catalyst for strengthening that trust.
Somalia’s institutions may be weak, but every stakeholder should be able to expect protection, rather than exposure from the very agencies that exist.