EDITORIAL | Somalia’s election program may have hit its head last week when the head of the National Independent Electoral Commission admitted it could not hold elections on time. Citing war between stakeholders, uncertainty and incomplete legal system; Ms. Halima Ismail suggested instead of having some sort of extension of the established to either a paper-based choice (before) or a biometric choice [later].
But the concern from this concession has been the apparent change in attitude from Somalia’s international partners. In the wake of Mrs Ismail’s statement in parliament, the UN and other partners gathered Somalis for an “inclusive dialogue to create the broadest possible agreement.”
The United States, Britain, Denmark, AU and IGAD were behind the UN declaration last week. But it was a casual version of their previous call. For years, these partners stood for inclusive elections held on time, and those that want to take on board as many minorities as possible, and one that does not violate the Constitution.
Last December, for example, the UN and these partners called on the federal government to respect the commitment to the broad participation of Somali voters as much as possible and to “end the electoral process on the basis of credible, peaceful, one-person, free and fair elections before the end. of 2020 / beginning of 2021. ”
The UN Security Council reiterated its call for peaceful, transparent, timely, credible and inclusive voting in Somalia in accordance with the Interim Federal Constitution. The members of the UN Security Council noted that any delay in the election could pose risks and that holding timely elections is important for Somalia’s political stability.
The international partners have failed to push the FGS, which is holding the election, in its time to avoid a further political crisis in the country.
Does the NIEC comply with this obligation? Is it curious that our partners are quickly gathering the public to support the dialogue? The federal government had committed itself to the donors, the UN itself said earlier. With the events, we are concerned that the international community in Somalia is now flip-flopping on a topic it recently stood on. Most partners such as the United Kingdom, the United States, the United Nations and the European Union had unequivocally called for dialogue and timely elections.
When the National Independent Electoral Commission admitted that it could not hold elections on time, we expected these partners to express concern about the lack of timely elections. Instead, most have supported the NIEC’s proposal for late elections. They have also been mothers when the House of Commons passed the controversial election law, leaving questions about whether allegations of change did not bother them.
There is no reason for them to give up the criticizing role now, especially as they are also key financiers. An assessment made by a think tank in Mogadishu (Heritage Institute) observed that the proposals from the NIEC in addition to extending the term of Parliament and the Presidency through the back door; are also inadequate.
Somalia would require at least 18 months to organize a biometric voter election. That NIEC proposed in August next year should have justified a reprimand from the donors, who will mostly fund the election program. The donors seem strange to support a paper-based election in March after extending the term of office.
A number of stakeholders, including opposition groups, have warned that this may be a recipe for chaos, as there may be unregulated style theft. If donors are unprepared to prevent this, they should at least question the NIEC itself, which in May insisted it was ready to hold an election on time.
It should be noted that delay in the elections does not necessarily mean that polls will arrive and find that Somalia has addressed the current challenge with uncertainty, lack of voter turnout, constituencies and voting model. Nor are we saying that a timely election must proceed without consensus. In fact, any negotiated solution to the issue is better because it will involve as many stakeholders as possible.
But the donors’ inconsistency reflects more on their hidden interests in Somalia than what is at stake for Somalia. Somalia has relied on these partners for the past 15 years to create a budding government. It is only wise that their consistency lies in creating Somalia’s stronger systems. It should start with things like a timely choice.
This is why the long-awaited meeting between President Mohamed Farmaajo and federal heads of state this Sunday is a good starting point. From the outset, any stakeholder should look forward to the conference to help move forward with the country’s election program. International partners have indicated that they want the meeting to expand the dialogue. In fact, it should resolve the controversy surrounding election delays. However, donors did not require this. They called for consensus
It must be remembered that the meeting will be the first physical conference in more than a year, reflecting the gap in lost time. As all wise leaders do, it is a welcome gesture to realize mistakes in lack of communication and turn to dialogue.
But there are realities to control. We are not proposing that Somalia be governed externally. But we argue that donors should not participate in the preparations for a chaotic situation.
This meeting must take place in the middle of a trust deficit. At the inaugural virtual conference two weeks ago, federal heads of state requested that the then forthcoming submission of draft electoral law in the lower house be at least postponed until the Governing Council discussed the draft. The lower house continued to pass laws that included approving amendments that would see Mogadishu represented by 13 senators in the next upper house.
It was curious that the Mogadishu presidency did not respond to concerns from Supreme House President Abdi Hashi, who claimed that up to 27 proposed articles of the law, as drafted by a parliamentary mixed committee, were mysteriously amended before being tabled.
Instead, Villa Somalia congratulated the lower house for adopting “a long-delayed” approval of the laws, which are now awaiting a presidential signature to be approved.
By circumventing an allegedly amended document, the lower house may have legitimized the joint committee; who had walked around and taken views. Also, by including the number of Senate representations without broad consultation, it threatened federalism and gives the impression that Villa Somalia is nationalist.
It is important that donors in Somalia insist on federalism because Somalia’s own history drove it against this kind of government to avoid past atrocities.
Some of the federal state presidents had already objected to the adoption of the election law before their vote was heard. Critically, it would be wise for the President to be sure that there had been no illegal changes outside the scope of Parliament before the laws were signed. Without it, there could be questions about what type of laws Somalia adopts. Will Somalia pass laws for posterity or for individual interests? What happens when these very individuals have left the stage? Are we turning to chaos, or are we going to have to endure another lengthy drafting of news laws? How do we solve the confusion?
Somalia’s election manifesto for the historic referendums has been circulating. But we believe, and we have said here before, that nothing is insurmountable where leaders speak.
The most important aspect, however, is the duty of every Somali to ensure that they support a cause that will stabilize the country. Therefore, we call on the federal government, federal states, political parties and civil society groups to rally under an electoral plan that supports the needs of ordinary people, not individuals.