Head of government of Transitional Federal Government Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke (replaced Nur Hassan Hussein in February)
Head of Somaliland Republic Dahir Riyaale Kahin
Death penalty retentionist
Population 9.1 million
Life expectancy 49.7 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 186/174 per 1,000
Armed conflict between armed groups and Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces continued despite the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops in January. Thousands of civilians were killed and hundreds of thousands displaced by indiscriminate warfare, bringing the number of people internally displaced since 2007 to up to 1.55 million. The humanitarian crisis deepened, compounded by insecurity and threats against aid agencies. Humanitarian workers, journalists and human rights activists faced considerable risks, including killings and abductions, in the course of their work. Serious human rights abuses, including war crimes, remained unpunished. The TFG controlled only part of the capital Mogadishu and there was no effective justice system. Armed groups controlled vast areas of south and central Somalia where they carried out unlawful killings and torture. In semi-autonomous Puntland, a new regional government was elected and a spate of killings of officials and civilians threatened relative stability.
Following the 2008 Djibouti peace agreement, the Transitional Federal Parliament was enlarged and elected Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, former Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia-Djibouti leader, as TFG President on 30 January.
Attacks continued against the TFG, particularly by al-Shabab ("youth") militias. In early January, an al- Shabab faction took Baidoa city, where Parliament used to sit. Despite the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops and the adoption by Parliament of Islamic law in April, armed groups launched a new offensive against the TFG in and around Mogadishu on 7 May. Among the groups were the Hizbul Islam coalition led by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, who returned to Somalia from Eritrea in April, and al-Shabab factions. In June, the TFG reached an agreement with the Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama'a armed group, which had fought against al- Shabab in central Somalia in January. Allies Hizbul Islam and al-Shabab clashed from September onwards in and around Kismayo.
The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), comprising 5,200 Burundian and Ugandan troops and mandated to protect TFG institutions, was increasingly attacked by armed groups. AMISOM troops allegedly responded with indiscriminate shooting and shelling, resulting in civilian deaths. Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for at least three suicide attacks - an attack on 22 February in Mogadishu killed 11 Burundian soldiers; an attack on 18 June on a hotel in Beletweyne killed the TFG Minister of Security and over 20 others, including an aid worker; and an attack on 17 September on AMISOM's base near the Mogadishu airport killed at least 21 people, including the Deputy Force Commander, in retaliation for a reported US helicopter strike on 14 September against suspected al-Qa'ida member Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan near Barawe.
On 18 December, Mohamed Suleiman Barre and Ismail Mohamed Arale were released from the US detention centre at Guantánamo Bay and returned to Somaliland.