1. Somalia proposes fresh plan for everyone to have a vote

    David Bamford

    BBC World Service News

    Hassan Sheikh Mohamud
    Image caption: Hassan Sheikh Mohamud became Somalia's president just over a year ago

    Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has called on the public to support a new plan to restore universal suffrage next year, ending a decade of indirect voting.

    Under proposals agreed at a four-day conference in the capital, Mogadishu, voters would directly choose a national president for the first time since General Siad Barre seized power in 1969.

    The first direct vote would be in local elections in June next year, followed by federal elections later.

    Somalia's central government collapsed in the 1990s when Siad Barre was overthrown.

    An indirectly appointed administration has been in place since 2012, but it's marred by clan rivalries, corruption and political wrangling - further exacerbated by an Islamist insurgency.

  2. Al-Shabab attack panicked Uganda troops, says president

    David Bamford

    BBC World Service News

    Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni has confirmed that a Ugandan army base in Somalia was stormed by hundreds of al-Shabab militants just before dawn on Friday.

    In a statement published on Twitter, he criticised the Ugandan troops stationed there, accusing them of failure.

    These are sharp words from the President Museveni about the conduct of his own soldiers after Islamist fighters managed to overrun one of their African Union mission bases in Somalia.

    He said the soldiers panicked and withdrew. This was unnecessary, he said, because their defence would have been strong enough if they had stayed in place.

    On Friday, al-Shabab had said it had killed numerous Ugandans. Mr Museveni acknowledged that there had been some deaths but gave no details.

    The United States later carried out an airstrike to destroy captured weapons.

    A military inquiry is under way.

  3. Explosions as Ugandan forces battle militants in Somalia

    Fardowsa Hanshi

    BBC News Somali

    The militant al-Shabab group on Friday morning carried out an attack on a Ugandan troops' base of the African Union Transition Mission (ATMIS) in Bulla Mareer district, in Lower Shabelle region in Somalia.

    The attack began shortly after morning prayers. It started with a large explosion, believed to be an explosives-laden vehicle.

    Buulo Mareer is about 110km (68 miles) from the capital, Mogadishu.

    Residents reported that after the big explosion, two more explosions occurred in the camp, before a fight started between the Ugandan troops and the attackers.

    Al-Shabab said they captured the camp and killed dozens of ATMIS soldiers, but there has been no independent confirmation of the group's claim.

    ATMIS says its forces are currently assessing the security situation in the area but no word yet from the Somali government regarding the attack.

    Ugandan army spokesperson Felix Kulayigye told Kenya's Daily Nation that the military was probing the attack. He blamed "foreign insurgents" for the raid without giving further details.

    The actual damage caused by the attack is not yet known.

    Civilians have remained inside their houses and though some of the bullets being fired hit their houses, no damage has been reported.

    Some residents in Bulo Mareer told the BBC that they could hear the sound of helicopters hovering over the city.

  4. Somalia's Puntland region holds historic local elections

    Abdi Dahir

    BBC Monitoring

    Voters queuing to vote
    Image caption: Voters have expressed their excitement to be participating in the what is so far a peaceful process

    The first ever one-person-one-vote election is taking place in Somalia since 1969.

    Voting for local councils is under way in 30 districts in the north-eastern semi-autonomous state of Puntland.

    During the socialist rule of Siad Barre, who took power in a coup in 1969, political parties were banned. After he was overthrown in 1991 the country, faced with years of civil war and an Islamist militant insurgency, has used an indirect voting system via clan representatives.

    The Transitional Puntland Electoral Commission (TPEC) said 319,507 had registered voters collected voter cards and were expected to participate.

    However, there are security concerns because of a dispute between Puntland's President Sa’id Abdullahi Deni and his political opponents who accuse him of plans to extend his term in office.

    Opposition-allied armed officers reportedly seized ballot boxes supposed to be moved from the regional capital Garowe to some polling stations.

    The electoral commission consequently postponed the process in three districts, including the regional capital where deadly clashes occurred on 15 May. The other two districts are Dangorayo and Godobijiran.

    Despite the political disputes, voters expressed their excitement to be participating in the what is so far a peaceful process.

  5. Flood engulfs town in central Somalia

    Fardowsa Hanshi

    BBC News Somali

    Beledweyne in central Somalia.

    Almost 250,000 people in central Somalia have had to flee their homes after a river flooded the town of Beledweyne.

    People had to shelter under trees after the Shabelle river burst its banks, meaning 99% of those living in the town and surrounding areas are now homeless, Hirshabelle State Interior Minister Abdirahmaan Dahir Gure told BBC Somali.

    The UN is warning that the floodwaters could also hit Bulo Burde town, some 110 km (68 miles) away.

    Climate change is believed to have played a large role. According to Somali government officials, heavy downpours in Somalia and upstream in the Ethiopian highlands triggered flash floods that washed away homes, crops, and livestock.

    Somalia is just starting to recover from the worst drought in several decades after almost five successive rainy seasons failed, triggering a near-catastrophic humanitarian situation.

    According to the UN, the rains are recharging water sources and helping vegetation to grow but it will take much more sustained rainfall to alleviate the impact of the recent drought.

    However this increases the risk of flooding.

    Beledweyne in central Somalia.
  6. Somalis keep close eye on Turkey's election

    Bushra Mohamed

    BBC News

    Recep Tayyip Erdogan
    Image caption: Mr Erdogan has been Turkey's president since 2014

    Turkey’s election is trending on social media in Somalia, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan enjoys popular backing because of the support he has given to the country.

    More than 10 years ago when he was still Turkey's prime minister, he became the most senior non-African leader to visit Somalia - and won the hearts of millions when he visited a camp for displaced people.

    At that time, Somalia was facing a severe drought, and Mr Erdogan's visit brought Somalia to the attention of the world.

    Under his rule, Turkey’s government built one of the biggest hospitals in the capital, Mogadishu, which was named after him.

    Turkey has also built a military base in Mogadishu, and is involved in the training of more than 20,000 Somali special forces.

    "’We stand with Erdogan as he stood with Somalia during the difficult time. Praying and hoping for his victory,’’ Adam Hassan Salamiin said in a Facebook post, which summed up the views of many people.

    Somalia has been hit by instability since the fall of long-serving ruler Siad Barre in 1991, and is currently battling an insurgency by militant Islamists.

    Mr Erdogan will go head-to-head with his opposition rival in a run-off vote. Mr Erdogan led the first round with 49.51% of the vote, official results show.

    Although he had a clear lead over his main challenger Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who polled 44.88%, he needed more than half the vote to win the race outright.

  7. UK in deal with Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia to fight terrorism

    Waihiga Mwaura

    BBC News, Nairobi

    The UK has signed an agreement with Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia aimed at tackling the causes of instability in the region.

    Speaking to the BBC, UK Security Minister Tom Tugendhat said the agreement - worth some $12.5m (£9.9m) – will support the three countries to come up with policies in their fight against terrorism.

    This is the first time high-level officials from Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia have accepted international support to address a common problem along their borders.

    These borderlands are usually isolated and insecure, which makes it difficult for countries to monitor threats.

    Mr Tugendhat believes that al-Shabab militants conduct terror activities in these areas because there is no governing authority.

    The militants have carried out a series of attacks within the region in recent months and the group remains a threat.

    The funding from the UK is also aimed at empowering local communities to effectively report suspected terror-related incidents.

  8. Somalia reports 70% decrease in al-Shabab attacks

    BBC Monitoring

    The world through its media

    Somali security officers drive past a section of Hotel Hayat, the scene of an al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab group militant attack in Mogadishu, Somalia August 20, 2022.
    Image caption: The cabinet said the army had seized at least 80 villages and towns in operations

    Somali authorities say sustained military operations against the al-Shabab terror group have succeeded in reducing militant attacks across the country by 70%.

    Efforts to ensure the stability of the capital, Mogadishu, have also been successful - allowing members of the public to peacefully observe the holy month of Ramadan, the Somali cabinet said on Thursday during its weekly meeting that was chaired by Prime Minister Hamsa Abdi Barre.

    The cabinet said the army had seized back at least 80 villages and towns since it launched the campaign in south-central Somalia last year.

    Government forces, supported by clan militias, have been conducting an offensive against al-Shabab since August 2022.

    Before the operation, the militants stepped up attacks, specifically in Mogadishu and army bases, killing dozens of government officials, civilians as well as members of the armed forces.

  9. Taboo-busting drama delights at Somalia premiere

    Mary Harper

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    The Arday premiere in Mogadishu on 28 April.
    Image caption: This was the first showing of the TV drama

    Dozens of people in the Somali capital crowded into an open-air screening on Thursday night, to watch the first episode of a bold new 10-part television series.

    Arday, which means "student", was shot entirely in Mogadishu and addresses difficult subjects like rape, drugs and girl gangsters.

    None of the 60-member cast had acted before.

    "The youth are unseen in Somalia. Seventy-five per cent of the population is under 30 but they are invisible," says the series' director Ahmed Farah.

    "This is their reality and I wanted to give them a voice."

    You can watch the trailer here:

    View more on youtube
  10. Somalis are climate change victims - UN chief

    UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud arrive for a joint news conference at the presidential palace in Mogadishu, Somalia - 11 April 2023
    Image caption: Mr Guterres (L) made the comments at a joint press conference with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud

    UN chief António Guterres has said the people of Somalia are the greatest victims of climate change despite not contributing to it.

    Quote Message: Although Somalia makes virtually no contribution to climate change, the Somalis are among the greatest victims"

    Mr Guterres called for massive international support at the start of a visit to the country which in the midst of a severe drought.

    The UN has launched a multi-billion dollar appeal for Somalia where millions are facing famine.

    Quote Message: Nearly five million people are experiencing high levels of acute food insecurity, and of course rising prices make matters worse.
    Quote Message: So I call on donors, and I call on the international community to step up their support to urgently fund the 2023 humanitarian response plan, which is currently just 15% funded."

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