National dialogue and reconciliation in Somalia

The political crisis that emerged in Somalia in 2021–2022 in connection with holding elections highlights the importance of efforts to promote national reconciliation. This is a priority for Norway, as is promoting the inclusion of women and marginalised groups. Meanwhile, the al-Shabaab armed group has strengthened its position on a number of fronts and cannot be combated with military means alone.

The security situation in Somalia remains extremely fragile. In recent years, al-Shabaab has gained strength. It has established an effective tax collection system, has infiltrated central government institutions and retains the capacity to carry out grave acts of terrorism across the country. Political dialogue and cooperation across clans and federal member states is essential to halt al-Shabaab’s resurgence, regardless of the strategy chosen. After a long-delayed, polarising election process, Hassan Sheikh Mahamud has now been elected President. The new Government now faces the major task of uniting the country to lay the foundation for cooperation between the federal authorities and member states on addressing the country’s many challenges.

Norway remains committed to promoting political stabilisation and strengthening national and regional institutions in Somalia, for example through its support for the implementation of the National Reconciliation Framework. Norway is focusing on stabilisation measures in areas liberated from al-Shabaab control. These measures include job creation schemes, electrification projects, and the provision of street lighting. These efforts have helped to improve services in rural areas and have enhanced the security and safety of the civilian population.

The political status of Somaliland is another important issue that needs to be resolved. Somaliland declared independence in 1991 and in many ways has been functioning as an independent state since then, albeit without international recognition.