EDITORIAL | There were positive signs this week in Somalia, so gratifyingly it showed that key political stakeholders were eager to open their dead communication channels for the benefit of the country.
Then there were also bad signs bad enough to show that the old perennial problems in Somalia have not yet been tackled.
When Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo almost spoke to the presidents of the federal member states for the first time in more than a year; it was good. When the meeting tentatively agreed to have a future face-to-face meeting and resolve the ongoing issues, it showed that channels were opening up further.
In fact, Wednesday’s formal invitation from Villa Somalia to federal presidents signaled for a meeting on 5-8. July further intention that the communication channels were reopened. We were pleased to hear that the agenda for the forthcoming meeting would be on national security, constitutional review, elections, terrorism and economic issues.
Honestly, Somalia’s narrative is woven around these key issues, and any sensible leader will always have to look at them. In fact, previous meetings had failed, mainly because the agenda could not be agreed.
At this point, a genuine attempt to organize a forum for stakeholders to speak through crises is welcome. However, Axadlerecommends that positive steps in Somalia can only be achieved through extreme good faith. Villa Somalia was not always receptive to meetings with federal presidents. Some of these leaders like Ahmed Madobe from Jubaland were not even recognized as such until ten days ago.
Given this environment, there have been critics who claim that Villa Somalia’s recent meeting with these leaders about ignition can be gruesome; that either external pressure is behind, or it has reached a point where his own political survival depends on coincidence with these leaders.
Of course, politics is about permanent interests, not friends or enemies. But we urge all political stakeholders in Somalia to be true to what will help the common Somali person. The agenda that Villa Somalia has already chosen reflects problems that most urgently need solutions. Somalia can never stand on its own two feet under an al-Shabaab regime.
A permanent constitution is needed to govern the relationship between federal states and the federal government as well as resource sharing. The most important thing of all is that there are only three months until the election. These leaders, FGS and FMSs, jointly hold an influential position that can help the country know how the upcoming polls will be conducted and even when they will be held.
But there was also the bad this week. When Villa Somalia’s bureaucrats drafted the agenda and invitations, it turned out in detail that the proposed rules discussed in the lower house had been changed before the drafts were submitted. The Upper House Speaker sensationally claimed that approx. 27 articles in the draft electoral rules had been amended to suit a particular case.
No names were paddled. But there are two problems with this claim. First, the articles have been changed, if they are true, it legitimizes the 17-member ad-hoc committee that had been tasked with drafting the regulations before it was laid on the floor of the House.
Second, debate on these rules had been the subject of the virtual meeting between FMS and FGS last Monday. Leaders apparently agreed to postpone the debate until their input is included, probably after their physical meeting.
That the debate was allowed in the lower house risks breaking any trust creation. This is not to say that federal states should keep the country’s progress as a ransom. But we note that earlier versions of these electoral laws were fought hard in Puntland and Jubaland on the grounds that there had been no input from these states.
Under a delicate situation as it is today, between the federal government and federal states, the existing trust deficits can break any movement toward the common ground of the election law.
This is why we believe that the management of the lower house must be chewed to work in front of the group. We believe that in order for any positive outcome to come from the forthcoming meeting, no side should give any signals indicating that others are being taken on a trip.
While we encourage dialogue and encourage all invited attendees to attend, we are aware that previously scheduled meetings have not started because the parties simply did not see each other as serious.