The period since our last report of September 2018 saw elections held in the Federal Member States (FMS) of Puntland (8 January 2019), Jubbaland (August 2019), and Southwest State (19 December 2018). As predicted in that report, the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) was heavily involved in said elections, trying to promote a candidate in line with its vision of Somalia. The result was a tightening of FGS influence in the FMSs nearest to the capital and further losing influence in Jubbaland and Puntland.
In Mogadishu, the government took modest steps to improve transparency and accountability. It increasingly shared data on government reports and published expenditure reports from 2018 and the first two quarters of 2019.
On accountability, the Auditor General released his first report. The report provided a useful outline of the institutional weaknesses of various government departments. It showed an utter lack of bookkeeping in some departments; lack of an internal audit; misspending of funds for goods and services not included in the budget; lack of transparency in contracting; poor and illegal procurement procedures; and millions in missing funds. It was a brave and important step in building credible institutions.
As we head into an election year in 2020 and as anticorruption mechanisms remain weak and unimproved, incidences of bribery and vote-buying are expected to continue being a problem. Likewise, the lack of an electoral model so close to when elections are supposed to take place means there will be a delay that has the potential to cause political instability and a further weakening of the FGS relations with Puntland and Jubbaland.