Staving off Violence around Somalia's Elections

Somalia is organising presidential and parliamentary elections after a mid-September agreement between the federal government and regional states unblocked an impasse that threatened to delay the contests past the current government’s constitutional term limit. Tensions among key parties remain high, and electoral preparations are lagging. Poor relations among the federal government, regional states and political opposition will test the September agreement, potentially resulting in a breakdown in the electoral framework or violent contestation of results. Al-Shabaab and the Islamic State in Somalia could disrupt the process and capitalise on any resulting instability. Somalia’s political leaders should work to reduce prospects of electoral unrest by following through on aspects of the September agreement that bolster confidence – such as enhancing civil society monitoring and establishing a dispute resolution process. To buy time, the leaders could explore a short, consensual extension of the electoral calendar.