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Hassan Sheikh’s First Year in Review: Progress and Setbacks!

Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was elected as the President of Somalia on May 15, 2022, with a vision to undertake a comprehensive political overhaul that would result in more stability, security, and economic prosperity for the nation. His pledge to work on Somalia which is at harmony with its self and is in harmony with the world has been at the forefront of his campaign along with revitalizing the economy, fighting corruption, and pursuing an intelligent foreign policy.

One year into his presidency, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has made some encouraging achievements but has fallen short of most of his grand political promises. Along with his Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre, Hassan Sheikh’s administration has made progress in improving security, especially in the War against Al-Shabab, and has achieved progress in stabilizing Mogadishu. Additionally, the administration has made progress in its foreign policy by renewing interest in joining the East African Community and restoring relations with the UAE and Kenya. However, many of his major election pledges remain unfulfilled, especially the debt relief, Completion of the Constitution, increasing the revenue, fighting corruption, strengthening the relations with Federal Member States (FMS) and improving public confidence.

Security (War on Al-shabab).

The persistent threat of the extremist group al-Shabab remains a top priority for Somalia’s government. In the past 16 years, successive presidents have vowed to tackle this group responsible for countless violent attacks, including bombings, killings, and other brutal acts that have ravaged communities in the southern regions of Somalia.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has promised to end Al-Shabaab; it is an indisputable fact that in the first year of the presidency, his government gained territory from al-Shabab in many areas, including Galmudug and Hirshabelle states. This progress was achieved through a multifaceted approach that included military operations and financial sanctions, such as the closure of bank accounts and the disruption of tax collection operations of Al Shaabab and also  in collaboration with local militias called “Macawisley”.

Although there has been some progress in weakening Al-Shabaab through the efforts of the Somali government and its international partners, the second phase of the war against this extremist group has shown signs of faltering. Despite well-trained forces taking charge of stabilizing the capital city of Mogadishu, there are still pockets of violence in some villages where armed gangs known as “ciyaal weero’, continue to pose a significant threat.

The government insists that the war against Al-Shabaab has only been postponed due to the participation of frontline countries in the effort. Still, further action is needed to overcome this persistent and deadly threat to Somalia’s security and stability.

Drought response.

On the issue of drought, at the beginning of his term, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud faced catastrophic Drought and famine that jeopardized the lives of countless vulnerable Somalis. The President swiftly acted in response, embarking on a tour of the drought-affected regions in the Southwest, Galmudug, and Puntland.

During his visit, he drew global attention to the severe Drought in Somalia by designating a special envoy for Drought to galvanize international partners to prevent a famine that could kill thousands of people displaced by recurrent droughts. This appointment demonstrated his compassion towards the vulnerable population, and it preceded any political appointments, showing that his priority was the well-being of the people.

Political Dispute, NCC Meeting & Completion of the Constitution.

A protracted political dispute between the federal government of Somalia and Puntland state has caused tensions between the two parties. The disagreement revolves around power-sharing, fiscal federalism, creation of national revenue authority, judiciary, and fisheries laws. this disagreement has thwarted efforts toward completing the Constitution. Hassan Sheikh restored the National Council Consultation meeting, which initially showed promise, but ultimately failed due to these disagreements. Puntland has accused the federal government of neglecting to cooperate on national issues, such as debt relief programs, and refusing to distribute foreign aid according to the country’s federal system. Recently, tensions have escalated, with both sides exchanging solid verbal accusations. Prime Minister Barre has warned that Puntland’s refusal to participate in national meetings may lead to the failure of the debt relief program.

In the first year of his presidency, President Mohamud successfully established technical committees for the Constitution but failed to effectively address the underlying political issues, which continue to threaten political stability in the country.

Foreign relations

Hassan Sheikh’s slogan during his election campaign and after winning was that he aimed to establish a reconciled Somalia that is in harmony with the world. This has led many to believe he will pursue a policy of calm negotiations and dialogue with other nations, particularly the neighboring countries, with which the previous President had tense relations.

President Hassan Sheikh has been successful in restoring damaged relations Somalia had with Kenya, Djibouti, and the United Arab Emirates, while also maintaining the friendly relationship with Ethiopia and Eritrea. Additionally, his government has taken positive steps in joining the East African community. The President has travelled extensively, visiting countries such as Italy, the United States, the Gulf, and the region.

Corruption

This month the cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre passed bills aimed at combating corruption to help enhance transparency and accountability in managing financial resources in the country, while President Hassan endorsed, “The president urges an expedient implementation of the directives (bills),” the presidency said in a statement issued in the Somali capital of Mogadishu.

President Hassan Sheikh has emphasized through the media that Somali citizens will monitor the legal cases of those accused of stealing national treasures. The President mentioned that his government had arrested suspects believed to have stolen public property, and they are currently undergoing investigations by the judicial system.

However, the President has recently faced allegations of nepotism and favoritism towards his family members in awarding contracts and opportunities in various projects.

Debt Relief

In May 2022, shortly after President Dr. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was elected, Somalia faced a critical situation regarding the HIPC Debt Forgiveness System. The process was at risk of failing completely within a matter of days. The Extended Credit Facility (ECF program), designed to facilitate Somalia’s transition from the “Decision Point” to the “Completion Point” stage, had experienced delays in undergoing necessary reviews and had entered a phase of critical suspension that lasted for 18 months.

President Hassan Sheikh took immediate action to salvage the Debt Relief Process. Two days after his election, he held a meeting with the heads of the IMF and the World Bank. During this meeting, he assured them that his government would take significant steps to revive the debt forgiveness process. As a result, the request to initiate the loan forgiveness process was implemented, marking a crucial milestone in Somalia’s efforts to alleviate its debt burden and promote economic stability.

Somalia’s aspiration for complete debt relief from the International Monetary Fund could be jeopardized due to a revived political disagreement between the federal government of Somalia and the Puntland federal member state. A failure of the fragile reforms to boost revenue collection and fiscal transparency could endanger Somalia’s hope for full debt relief from the IMF and other multilateral lenders.

On May,19 The IMF Executive Board completed the fifth review under the Extended Credit Facility with Somalia. The decision allows for an immediate disbursement of about US$9.4 million to Somalia to support the implementation of the authorities’ National Development Plan and to anchor reforms between the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Decision and Completion Points. “Other risks include security challenges, political risks, and policy slippages that could delay reaching the HIPC Completion Point” IMF.

National Budget

On Nov, 2022 The Federal Council of Ministries approved the Federal Government of Somalia’s 2023 appropriated budget, which was up to $967 million. On December 28 2022, the Federal Parliament unanimously approved the budget with a slight amendment of an increase to $977 million. This revised budget reflects a notable 4 percent increase compared to the previous fiscal year’s allocation of $929.9 million.

Lasanod War

In December, an uprising broke out in Lasanod against the ongoing killings in the city, which caused revolt of the people against Somaliland which has been in control of the city since 2007. The Somaliland army was forced out of Lasanod by the locals (Jamaahiir), who declared their desire to be governed by the federal government of Somalia.

The fighting in Lasanod has continued for four months, and the conflict remains unresolved.

Reports indicate that Somaliland used heavy artillery in the city, resulting in the deaths of over 100 people, injured over 600 and displaced more than 100 thousand people. Critics have accused the Federal Government led by Hasan Sheikh and Hamse of being slow to act in response to the crisis. There are suspicions that the federal government is aligned with Somaliland which seeks to claim the SSC regions.

Public Confidence

The FGS is currently struggling to maintain the trust and support of the public, thus becoming the most widely criticized administration in its first year in office. The President has faced significant backlash for engaging in nepotism, with several of his family members occupying influential positions within the government. Moreover, allegations have emerged that the President has displayed favoritism towards his family by appointing them to more directorial, senior positions, and administrative positions, however President Hassan Sheikh has vehemently defended his actions arguing that his relatives have the right as citizens to serve in government positions. This situation has garnered widespread media attention, with reports indicating that the President’s actions have eroded public confidence in his administration.

In addition, criticism has been directed towards the President for overtaking the powers of the Prime Minister’s office and taking the administerial role of the prime minister.

In conclusion, the administration has made meaningful strides in important areas, but has a long way to go in others key issues.

© The Daily Somalia.

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