Hoping for Somalia as leaders near striking an inclusive electoral agreement in Mogadishu

MOGADISHU, Somalia – Somalia’s hopes for a systematic and credible electoral process have been given a huge boost, with several sources entrusting Axadlefollowing agreements on various contentious issues that almost threatened to tear the country apart in recent months.

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In the last two weeks, leaders of the federal member states and leaders of the federal government have been drawn in over the model and date of elections, where the representation of the Banadir and Somaliland regions is also in the controversy.

And to ease tensions, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and three regional leaders had reached an agreement in Dhusamareb after a series of meetings, but the agreement lacked legitimacy due to the unprecedented absence of Jubaland President Ahmed Islam Mohamed Madobe and his Puntland counterpart, Sagde Abdullahi Deni.

But the two would later honor an invitation to Mogadishu from Farmajo, where they have been closed for the past two weeks. Under close scrutiny by the international community, the five regional leaders, Mogadishu Mayor Omar Filish and Farmajo, have discussed ways to reach an agreement before the election.

Several sources told Axadlethat the leaders held a lengthy meeting from dusk to midnight Wednesday in Villa Somalia, and so far they have reached consensus on various contentious issues, but it is not clear when the final deal will be signed.

However, sources, the other controversial points added, that the leaders do not yet agree to include the role of the National Independent Electoral Commission [NIEC] in the upcoming election, regardless of model and date. The NIEC has a mandate to hold the next election through a political agreement.

The parties agreed that the election should not be conducted in a party system and should take place in two constituencies [previous deal was 4] in each Somali federal state and reduce the number of electoral delegates from 301.

At Dhusamareb, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, Mohamed Abdi Waare [HirShabelle], Abdiaziz Lafta-Gareen [Southwest]Ahmed Abdi Kariye [Galmadug] and Mayor Omar Filish agreed on a constituency model for constituencies and that the NIEC should conduct the election in the next three months.

But Madobe and Deni are said to have expressed reservations and argued that local votes should be monitored by member states, adding that the NIEC had not organized elections in a timely manner. The two insisted that the NIEC had not shown commitment to holding elections without external intervention.

During the constituency competition, more than 301 delegates are expected per. Constituency to participate in the upcoming election, the agreement reads. This model is sought after the improved clan-based model or the 4.5 system, but it gives more stakeholders room to choose MPs other than older ones as in previous excursions.

Halima Ismael, chair of the NIEC, had ruled out holding early elections in June, arguing that the Commission needed time to conduct civic education and voter registration across the country. For a vote on universal suffrage, she added, the Commission would have delivered the paper by March 2021.

Critics argued that the one-person-vote model would have given the current administration an extension of the concept, which would be contrary to the spirit of the Constitution. The period of the current administration expires in November, and the country is set to hold parliamentary and presidential elections.

Farmajo is already facing stiff competition from former Presidents Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who may run for the National Party Forum, opposition leader Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsame and the recent inauguration of immediate former Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire.

AXADLETM

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