Despite its reputation as a lawless environment governed by loose clan structures, Somalia has had a federal government throughout most of the conflicts that have plagued the country since the mid-1980s. For much of that time, however, the government existed entirely outside of Somalia’s borders and had barely any power over the country. Somalia’s federal government returned to the country more than a decade ago, but it has not been able to extend its reach much beyond Mogadishu, notes STRATFOR:
Weak and decentralized political institutions have impeded the government’s efforts to develop the rest of the country, even as large swaths of it have been cleared of the militant group al Shabaab. The country’s long-awaited elections — now set to take place from Oct. 23 to Nov. 10 after repeated delays — are meant to signal the start of a new era in Somalia. Billed as the first popular elections since the civil war erupted, the vote could represent a milestone along Somalia’s path to stability. In reality, though, the elections will not mark a significant achievement for Somali democracy.
Regardless of the elections’ outcome, the next Somali government will face the same desperate challenges that previous governments have contended with. In fact, the elections could exacerbate the country’s enduring security problems. Al Shabaab remains a significant threat, STRATFOR adds. But AMISOM members have suggested that the landmark vote will signal a shift in Somalia’s political stability and that afterward, their presence in the country will be less essential. If AMISOM reduces its involvement in Somalia, the remaining elements of al Shabaab could exploit the vacuum left in the mission’s wake.