Thursday, May 24, 2018
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An Open Letter to International Partners for Somalia Regarding Ethiopia’s Interference in Somalia’s Presidential Elections

To: International Partners for Somalia

As concerned Somali citizens inside the country and in the diaspora, we are strongly disturbed and concerned about the flagrant and illegal interference of the Ethiopian government in Somalia’s presidential election. The Ethiopian government has decided to openly campaign for the candidacy of Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud (HSM), the incumbent president whose term expired on September 10th, 2016 by using intimidation and fear due to the leverage he has due to the presence of large contingents of Ethiopian military forces in several regions of Somalia. This brazen, dangerous and destabilizing decision by the Ethiopian government is a gross violation of the terms set by the United Nations’ Security Council resolution authorizing the admission of AMISOM forces in Somalia in its effort to defeat Al-shabab.

The international community is well aware HSM grossly violated the Provisional Constitution of Somalia with the formation of the so called National Leadership Forum (NLF) when his government failed during his tenure to prepare the country for one-person one-vote in 2016 elections. In addition, it is very unfortunate the international community supported the creation of the NLF, an extra-judicial entity or structure that usurped the power of the Somali federal parliament with a fiat and an illegal presidential decree from President HSM. Somalis who strongly believe in the rule of law are disappointed with the former SRSG Mr. Nicolas Kay, who played a critical role in the formation of the NLF. Furthermore, we want to draw the attention of the international community that HSM’s regime significantly undermined the integrity and credibility of the 2016 Somali parliamentary elections by engaging in major corruption and fraudulent activities that are well documented and widely reported.

Given this track record of HSM in his tenure as the president of Somalia as well as the wide spread endemic corruption and large scale misappropriation of the country’s meager financial assets, the Ethiopian government with all the resources at its disposal and the influence and leverage obtained due to the presence of its military forces throughout Somalia is using coercion and intimidation to return HSM as the president of Somalia for another term.

Most Somalis have no illusions – despite the protestation of the Ethiopian government, about its policy towards Somalis. That is to have a weak government incapable of restoring law and order and a lasting political stability using constantly and consistently the ruse: “it is fighting terrorism”. The natural consequence of this cynical Ethiopian policy is that it always plays into to the hands of Al-Shabab giving credence to Al-Shabab’s message; that the goal of Ethiopia is to disenfranchise and destabilize Somalia. The current vigorous effort and feverish campaign of Ethiopians and their agents to return HSM as the president of Somalia is a confirmation and validation of Al-Shabab’s destructive message.

Currently present in Mogadishu to support the re-election efforts of HSM are the following Ethiopian officials:

  • Reda Getachew, Communications Officer at the office of the Ethiopian PM
  • Dr. Metiku Arkebe, Special Advisor to Ethiopia PM
  • Solomon Sulu, Deputy Head of Foreign Intelligence of Ethiopia.

The international community should be alarmed and disturbed by the open, unlawful, menacing and destabilizing interference of the Ethiopian government in Somalia’s current presidential elections for several reasons:

First, the Ethiopian government is in complete violation of the AMISOM forces agreement and Somali government’s invitation for Ethiopian forces to enter the country and assist the weak security and military forces of Somalia in the fight against Al-shabab. The illegal Ethiopian interference in Somali’s political and domestic affairs severely undermines and makes mockery of the critical and important goal of the international community to stabilize Somalia and the Horn of Africa.

Second, the Ethiopian government is using dirty tactics and manipulation to coerce regional governments to force their parliamentarian members in both federal chambers to support their anointed presidential candidate HSM. In the interest of brevity, I will take the case of the South West (SW) regional government. The President of SW regional government, Sharif Hassan, had declared publicly several months ago that he will be a candidate for the president of Somalia. However, given that his presidential ambition will decrease the chances of Ethiopia’s anointed candidate HSM, the Ethiopian government advised Sharif Hassan to withdraw his candidacy; nonetheless, after he baulked, the Ethiopian government withdrew its large contingent non-AMISOM forces in SW region immediately without any warnings or consultation with the international community. Given the dangerous and precarious security threat Ethiopia’s withdrawal created for the SW region, Sharif Hassan relented and ended his presidential ambition.

Third, Ethiopia’s complete disregard for international laws and norms in Somalia since the collapse of Siad Barre’s regime has been evident as stated explicitly from various statements from the UNSC with no consequence for the Meles Zenawi’s regime. As a result, the illegal activity of the Ethiopian government has been increasing incrementally in the last two decades and is emboldened now with the confidence that it can get away whatever interference considered necessary to disenfranchise and destabilize Somalia for decades to come

The illegal, open, coercive and intimidating intervention of the Ethiopian government in the current Somali presidential election is the culmination of the international community’s policy of making its priority of fighting terrorism (Al-shabab) and its indifference and apathy of the commitment necessary to support the emergence of a credible and accountable Somali government with security forces committed to observing human rights, international law and democratic government principles. There was no shadow of a doubt the commitment of the international community to the emergence of a stable and credible democratic government in the cases of Liberia and Sierra Leone who unlike Somalia successfully emerged from protracted civil wars.

As is widely reported in Somali media, the brazen and sinister direct intervenes of the Ethiopian government in the current presidential is a boon for Al-Shabab and its recruitment. Al-Shabab has consistently been telling and warning the Somali public, that the international community is using as a cover “the war against terrorism” – and will support the Ethiopian government on whatever it does in Somalia.

We urge the international community for all the reasons we stated above, to publicly condemn the abominably gross violations of the Ethiopian government of the terms of UNSC resolutions, and AU’s authorization to the AMSOM forces to enter Somalia. Silence on the part of the IC will be interpreted and seen as a confirmation of the dire warnings and claims of Al-Shabab.


Concerned Somali citizens inside the country and in the diaspora

Ahmed Elmi

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