EDITORIAL | The claims of Somali Prime Minister Hassan Khaire that elections should be held on time to avoid future security and constitutional crises are welcome.
Sir. Khaire’s comments after the meeting with his cabinet in Mogadishu signal that the federal government in Somalia is really focused on holding elections on time as planned.
Somalia had scheduled elections for lawmakers before the end of this year to replace MPs whose term ends in late October. The country was expected to elect a federal president by the end of February. All of these have been uncertain regarding the watch.
But over the course of a month, both Khaire and President Mohamed Farmaajo have told the public that the election will be timely and as representative as possible. Both promises are welcome. The missing point, however, is which model will be held this time in time.
This week, an expected meeting between Farmaajo and federal member states did not take place. From the look of things, there was a huge gap of trust between stakeholders that ruined any chance of a meeting that would have tried to answer this question.
What we had left with was a conference of federal presidents of the member states. At the time of printing, there was still no broadcast of a statement from the federal heads of state. All expectations were that there could be some sort of consensus given the public show of camaraderie among the regional leaders as they touched on in Dhusamareb, the state of Galmudug.
These types of meetings that we have previously listed on this platform are useful as they could break the ice on communication channels. As it is not, Somalia does not have time. The National Independent Electoral Commission recently shocked the public by admitting that it had neither the time nor the money nor the legal system to conduct elections.
President Halima Ismail pleaded for another 13 months, asking for the election law to be passed so quickly. The Commission has proposed a budget of $ 53 million for the election campaign.
There is still no agreement on whether the Commission can conclude a good quality choice if these needs are met. This brings us to the question of whether election delay is necessary.
Some experts have cautiously observed that a proper election is sensible in two years’ time and say that the extension needed by the NIEC will still be insufficient. And miffed over the proposal to postpone polls, opposition leaders and federal state presidents, particularly Puntland and Jubaland, have warned that a delay would be unacceptable.
In short, most, if not all, stakeholders agree that delayed elections would be bad for the country. They also agree that elections held within the scheduled time will require consensus. On Thursday, President Farmaajo endorsed Khaires’ statement, expressing his willingness to see elections based on the Constitution.
Based on that kind of view, we would like to challenge leaders from Villa Somalia to the smallest political party to act on this belief. It is one thing to seek choices in a timely manner, it is another to support a program that will actualize this thought.
In Somalia, the election leader is the NIEC, which has been sluggish about planning elections. The Commission has blamed all stakeholders except itself. So why can Somali leaders not guarantee that the Commission is to blame?
It can begin with a joint declaration, says between Villa Somalia and federal states, a commitment to support the Commission at all levels it needs. Then Somalia can sit back and wait for the NIEC to do its duty.
There are many problems in Somalia at the moment, including the proliferation of Covid-19, security challenges and a burgeoning economy. But it seems that it is not a problem to hold elections that are inclusive and on time.