Political turmoil and COVID-19 threat to Somalia

President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo’s official term ended last week with no political agreement on the electoral calendar. His term of office expired without violence and it demonstrates the need for peace in Mogadishu.

Opposition party leaders have long consulted regional leaders and civil society groups to handle the power vacuum and conduct free and fair elections-they have now declared the current government illegitimate and are calling on the public to organize anti-government demonstrations on Friday.

However, COVID-19 is spreading quickly in Somalia, particularly in the capital, Mogadishu. Somalis are unfamiliar with the risk of COVID-19. I’ve been to some of the restaurants in Mogadishu in the last couple of days and met with many friends who, I guess, had contracted COVID-19 as they had a dry cough at the time.

Afterwards, I asked them whether they had any fever or symptoms. I was then told they had fever and sore throat at night and said they had no concerns about COVID-19. Somalis do not comply with World Health Organization guidelines for COVID-19. People go to public assembly sites without masks, and even they do not maintain social distancing.

Somalia’s Ministry of Health today briefed the media on the country’s COVID-19 update. It says a total of 90 people have been confirmed positive from a sample size of 1,529 tested in the last 24 hours.

The report also includes, ten people to have been discharged and two fatalities. Opposition groups are demanding public protests against the Farmaajo government, but their decision runs counter to the COVID-19 pandemic restriction measures.

After years of chaos and conflict, this was going to be a critical year for Somalia. It was thought to be the first one-person-one-vote election in more than three decades.  However, in September, it was abandoned and replaced with indirect elections for Parliament in December, and for the president on February 8, neither happened.By Mustafa Sheik Bedri.

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