A strategic country in East Africa for its control of the Gulf of Aden and the gates of the Indian Ocean, Somalia will hold presidential elections in February 2021 that are important for its future. Faced with Al-Shabab and the risk of dissolution of the country, the candidate Abshir Aden Ferro is today the one who is in a better position to win and hope to put an end to the country’s difficulties.
The Horn of Africa, gateway to the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, Somalia has a very rich history of trade, culture and encounters between peoples. Its contemporary history has been marked by a long civil war which is remembered in France by the « Rice for Somalia » operation launched by Bernard Kouchner in 1992 and by the American intervention Restore Hope which ended in the defeat of Mogadishu in 1993. With nearly 3,300 km of coastline, Somalia is a strategic position for the control of the Gulf of Aden, the Straits of Hormuz, and the Bab el-Mandeb where nearly a third of world trade passes through.
Irruption of Al-Shabab
Created in 2006 at the time of the Ethiopian invasion, the shababs are a jihadist movement linked to Al Qaeda and wishing to create an Islamic caliphate in the region. From their full name Harakat al-Chabab al-Mujahidin (movement of young fighters), the shababs associate the political and religious project with criminality, trafficking, and violence. Among them are cadres who have passed through Al Qaeda in Pakistan. Organising massive corruption in the administration and racketeering businesses, the shababs sow terror in several parts of Somali territory, including Mogadishu. Organising numerous attacks, they help to destabilise the country and prevent its recovery. One of the challenges of the next presidential election is the fight against these movements to restore order in the country, which is essential for its development.
The other two challenges are the real independence of Somalia and the reform of the electoral system. The country is extremely dependent on Turkey which finances many social projects to make Somalia its rear base in the Indian Ocean. The Turkish project is part of Erdogan’s neo-Ottoman vision, which seeks to recover the borders of the former empire that has disappeared. After Libya, Cyprus, the Caucasus and Syria, Somalia is Istanbul’s other area of international activity. If this increasingly exclusive link with Somalia remains, the real independence of the country cannot be assured.
The electoral system is based on a complex censal organisation. Tribal chiefs appoint parliamentarians who are the electors of the President of the Republic. The flagship project of candidate Abshir Aden Ferro is to amend the constitution to establish a democratic system « one man, one vote » to give more democratic impetus to the country.
Somalia and its sleeping assets
In addition to its prime geographical location, Somalia also has many mineral and fishery resources, including offshore oil. It is also a major producer of sheep, as it has the second largest sheep population in the world after Australia. All this untapped wealth gives hope that Somalia is not perpetually prone to war and unrest. The presidential election of February 2021 will be crucial for the country in this respect, on the one hand to put an end to the violence caused by the shababs, and on the other hand to restore real national independence to the country. For now, the candidate Abshir Aden Ferro seems best placed to win the election. With family roots in Somaliland, founder and manager of a large company, he combines experience on the ground with a commitment to Somalia in governance and management of public and economic affairs. Very well integrated in the international sphere, particularly in Europe (he works in London and married a French woman) and in the Gulf countries, he has high-ranking support that can help him bring Somalia back into the fold of the concert of nations. While this country is only mentioned in the international press during shabab attacks or piracy attacks against ships passing off its coast, the victory of a candidate restoring order and stability could be an opportunity to restore hope to the country and make it a major country in East Africa and the Indian Ocean.