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TRAVEL ADVISORY – Somalia Elections Delayed Until November 2016

Key Points:

  • Elections have been delayed until November due to continued security and administrative problems.
  • Presidential election will take place on 30 November 2016. Parliamentary elections will be held from 23 October to 10 November.

Situation Summary:
Political: Presidential elections were due to be held in Somalia in August 2016. However, numerous factors have led to continued delays in the process, such as political infighting and security fears. Delegates in the 2016 elections will be divided into electoral colleges of 51 people each, who will then cast secret ballots to select the 275 members of the Lower House Parliamentarians. A third of the Lower House have been allocated to women, which is a new requirement in Somali politics. The Upper House will consist of 54 senators who will be nominated by regional leaders and approved by their respective parliaments. Members of both houses will go on to select the next president at the end of November. Major cities such as Kismayo and Garowe, have witnessed an increase in campaigning billboards and flyers. This kind of activity has primarily been isolated to Mogadishu in previous elections and may be an indication of growing political participation.


Intrinsic Comment:
Nationwide elections were intended to be held in 2016, instead a limited franchise election has been scheduled instead. Only 14,000 delegates representing federal states will be eligible to vote in these elections. Although this falls short of the one-person one-vote ideal, this is an improvement in comparison to the 2012 elections in which the parliament was elected by 135 elders. In addition, due to the introduction of a federal system, candidates will be required to campaign from their constituencies in addition to Mogadishu. In a recent meeting held in Mogadishu, Somaliland politicians and elders decided to boycott the electoral process as the number of seats allocated for their region does not match their perceived status. This is a considerable set back in the electoral process. There are some suggestions that federal leaders are aiming to delay parliamentary elections in order to extend current office terms and leverage their presidential campaigns.

Al Shabaab have also threatened to target these elections by disrupting the process and targeting traditional elders involved in the process. The terror group adheres to a strict form of Sharia law which they aim to impose on the country. Overall, Al Shabaab considers these elections to be un-Islamic and traitorous, especially as some seats have been allocated to women in the Lower House of Parliament. There has been an increase in terror attacks in Mogadishu since August, targeting security forces as well as government officials. Despite Al Shabaab’s overall weakening position in the country, African Union security forces continue to encounter border skirmishes with the group. In addition, the threat of continued terror attacks by the group continues in Mogadishu.

Intrinsic Security Advice:
Risk Ratings: Somalia: Severe Mogadishu: Severe
Due to political instability and the increased potential for terror attacks, travel to Somalia should only be undertaken under heightened security measures. This includes the use of armed close protection services and twenty-four hour monitoring of movements. Heightened awareness should be adopted on days voting is scheduled to occur. In addition, caution is advised when visiting certain locations such as government buildings, Mogadishu airport, and venues frequented by Somali security forces. Events will continue to be monitored in Somalia for any developments which may increase political instability. For all essential travel to Somalia, Intrinsic is able to provide armed security solutions.


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