EDITORIAL | Somalia’s key stakeholders can now agree on the urgency of another meeting to discuss the way forward for the country. Unfortunately, this desire has been manipulated with arguments on the spot and date.
There are questions about how long President-elect Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo will remain head of state, given the four-year constitutional term of office that expired on February 8. Out of awareness, it is traditional for leaders to leave office when new ones come in.
Somalia has no new officials and has not had any elections, so Farmajo may remain. The question is whether he will be a lame duck during this transition period.
Regardless of the bargain, however, Somalia must learn from its past and the wrongs that brought us here. First, the current electoral support was due to a lack of inclusion. If we have to talk about the future of the country, the federal government must invite everyone, not just the federal heads of state, to the table. Somalia is a big cake whose share must reach every corner of the republic.
In the past, the federal government seemed keen to push through issues that only benefited it. Following the September 17 agreement last year, we expected to be welcome to participate in the election, followed by critical training, a detailed list of venues and dates for the election. All of these came in a pruner.
The incumbent Prime Minister of Somalia, Mohamed Hussein Roble, seemed to push the division’s knife even further. He appointed a team of election officials whom the opposition saw as biased. He then proposed by-elections after his government criticized the opposition for lacking logic. It’s true, sometimes the opposition anywhere in the world can make noise to simply remain relevant.
Federal Implementation Team for election [FEIT] was full of spy agents, officials and Farmajo’s comrades to rig the election for the incumbents, according to the Council of Presidential Candidates, which demanded dissolution and formed a neutral voting body.
But questions about elections in Somalia can be sensitive: What is the point of retaining an official whose impartiality is questioned or whose attitude to fair elections cannot be guaranteed? Farmajo must hold these talks, but the next advisory forum must not repeat the old controversial proposals.
What’s more? Earlier conferences convened in Dhusamareb, Galmudug state last year, closed other stakeholders hard. Somalia is not a perfect policy, but it will be stable by listening to everyone.
For several months, political parties were put away. Civil society groups could not participate in the talks because equal and other important sections of society such as religious priests who were influential in their respective communities did not give a voice.
Most of these groups had later accepted the outcome of the Dhusamareb meetings, although they did not provide input. It may have been for lack of compromise, not accommodating to the content of the agreement. Unfortunately, the implementation of the agreement provoked the intentions of those who want to divide the country.
Somalia’s problems can be many, but their solution will be more complicated if we choose to trace the country to a one-sided view. Ahead of the next consultative forum on February 15, leaders must come to the table with an open mind to give and take.
We would be naive to expect that all proposals can be accepted. But we can not bury our heads in the sand to think that only the proposal from the federal government should be approved.
Especially the legacy of the outgoing Somali President Farmaajo may lie in avoiding mistakes from previous rounds of talks.