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Somalia’s 2020 electoral options include direct polls, but reality won’t allow that

Organising such an election within the remaining eight months of the current parliament is unfeasible

Editorial Team

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In eight months, the term of the current Somalia parliament will end, and the president and his government will have five more months to leave office and hold an election, but the country still does not know which electoral model to take.

Somalia is in dilemma; it has two electoral options, one person, one vote and the clan system, each with its own risks. But some within the government and its international partners want to gamble and subject the country to universal suffrage although Somalia has not fulfilled any condition to hold this kind of election. Others fear the introduction of universal suffrage may make them lose power, which they enjoy now because of a clan power-sharing formula.

Somali clans share power through a system known as 4.5, where the main four clans share political power equally, and the minority ones share the remaining 0.5. Although major clans are satisfied with the application of this system, smaller clans feel that it does discriminate against them.

A free, fair and credible one person, one vote election is not only difficult to hold in either late 2020 or early 2021, but it is impossible considering the facts on the ground. Organising such an election within the remaining eight months of the current parliament is unfeasible.

For a credible one person, one man vote to take place in Somalia, parliament has to pass election and political parties laws, the constitutional review process must be completed, voters must be registered, a constitutional court to handle electoral dispute should be set up, the federal government and federal member states must reach a political agreement, and most importantly, security must be improved. None of these is in place right now.

Democratic elections require a peaceful environment. Al-Shabab remains a threat to Somalia’s democratisation process. Some parts of Somalia are still under al Shabab control, and people living there cannot participate in an election. The al-Qaeda-linked group, without doubt, will try to disrupt any form of an election the country pursues, but a direct poll is very risky. Civilians in urban areas where the government and the African Union mission control may fear to take part because of al Shabab threats that they will target polling centres and anyone who participates in the election.

Until today, al Shabab continues to target clan elders who participated in the 2016 elections, killing dozens of them.

Insecurity will also affect the operations of political parties that aim to take part in the next elections. The law requires them to open offices in half of the country’s provinces, some of which have significant al-Shabab presence.

The government may try to extend its term in office to ‘buy time to organise an election’ which will be a reputational risk for Somali’s statehood, and it could plunge the country back into crisis, jeopardizing gains made in the last few years.  Opposition political parties have expressed their concern about a poll delay for another year or two.

In the absence of a universal suffrage election, the 4.5 model which is currently in place offers by far the most predictable path towards inclusivity in Somalia’s fragile post-conflict society.

Until an enabling environment suitable for a credible election is created, and an alternative election model, agreeable to all Somalis, is placed on the table, the clan system remains the stability factor for the country.

Somalia and its international partners must direct all efforts to secure the country and create effective public institutions to enable universal suffrage in 2024.

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Politics

Madobe and Deni put off Mogadishu visit for days

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Jubbaland and Puntland leaders addressing the press in Garowe after a consultative conference. Photo: Garowe Online
   

The leaders of Jubbaland and Puntland regional governments have delayed their visit to Mogadishu for talks with the federal government.

Ahmed Madobe and Said Deni, who were expected in the Somali capital on Thursday, will be traveling to Mogadishu mid next week, The Frontier has learnt.

The two leaders were absent from the third round of talks in Dhusamareeb last week where President Mohamed Farmajo and three regional leaders and the mayor of Mogadishu signed an electoral deal that will pave way for ‘timely’ elections. Both Madobe and Deni rejected the Dhusamareeb outcome, but after local and international pressure, they are now open for further talks.

According to the deal, a constituency caucus of 301 delegates will elect a member of parliament, political parties compete for seats which will be presided over the National Independent Electoral Commission. State assemblies will elect the Senate (Upper House).

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Politics

After skipping Dhusamareeb parley, Madobe and Deni expected in Mogadishu for talks with Farmajo

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Photo: Goobjoog News
   

The leader of Jubbaland state government, Ahmed Madobe, and his Puntland counterpart Said Deni, will be traveling to Mogadishu on Thursday, August 27, to meet President Mohamed Farmajo, sources within Puntland State House and Villa Somalia have told The Frontier.

The leaders will discuss the outcome of Dhusamareeb summit, where Farmajo and three other regional leaders and the governor of Banadir agreed on an electoral model ‘suitable’ for the country.

According to the deal, a constituency caucus of 301 delegates will elect a member of parliament, political parties compete for seats which will be presided over the National Independent Electoral Commission. State assemblies will elect the Senate (Upper House).

Madobe and Deni skipped the meeting in Dhusamareeb, and said the agreement reached there  is a ‘political position limited to the views of leaders who attended that conference and we are not part of the conference and had no any representatives in the summit.’

They claimed Villa Somalia has failed to implement the previous Dhusamareeb conference by engineering the removal of Prime Minister Hassan Khaire, whose administration was tasked with implementing the outcome of the conference, in a bid to extend the government’s term in office, and failing to nominate a new premier to move the work forward and allowing a caretaker government in place.

Since the Dhusamareeb lll summit, Somalia’s international partners have been pressuring Madobe and Deni to come to the table and join other leaders in finding a solution to the country’s political crisis.

“Madobe and Deni are traveling to Mogadishu on Thursday as pressure from the IC (international community) heightens,” a top Somali official told The Frontier.

The Dhusamareeb deal awaits a parliamentary approval. Before that, Madobe and Deni could ask for amendments and give their signatures.

 

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Somalia Elections

What happens in Dhusamareeb doesn’t stay in Dhusamareeb

Editorial Team

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The political crisis in Somalia continues despite leaders of the federal government, federal member states and the mayor of Mogadishu reaching an electoral agreement in the central city of Dhusamareeb. Two of Somalia’s five federal member states are opposing the deal.

On Thursday, 20th August, President Mohamed Farmajo and the leaders of Galmudug, Hirshabelle and South West states and the mayor of Mogadishu, agreed on an election deal that that will take place on schedule, and a little bit different from the last election of 2016.

According to the deal, a constituency caucus of 301 delegates will elect a member of parliament, political parties compete for seats which will be presided over the National Independent Electoral Commission. State assemblies will elect the Senate (Upper House).

The drama surrounding Somalia’s election is being watched by local as well as outside players with keen interest in the country’s ability to hold free and credible polls.

The leaders of Jubbaland and Puntland who did not attend the latest round of talks rejected the outcome of the summit. They said the agreement reached in Dhusamareeb is a ‘political position limited to the views of leaders who attended that conference and we are not part of the conference and had no any representatives in the summit.’

“Ahmed Madobe and Said Deni, the leaders of Jubbaland and Puntland, could have attended the conference and present their views. No one could force them to agree with the other leaders,” Afyare Elmi, associated professor of security studies, Qatar University told the BBC.

“Other stakeholders, such as the national opposition and the civil society groups, could also have been invited to the conference to herald a broader political consensus,” he said.

Although with conditions, the Forum for National Parties – a coalition of opposition parties led by former presidents Sharif Ahmed and Hassan Mohamud – welcomed the agreement, saying that it is a step taken to the right direction moving the country closer to holding inclusive and timely election.

The agreement reached in Dhusamareeb is not binding; its implementation depends on the approval by the House of the People. President Farmajo, while addressing the Lower House before departing to Dhusamareeb last week, told members any electoral deal would be brought before the House for debate and approval.

According to the Provisional Federal Constitution, parliament must be elected through universal direct suffrage, thus the need for parliament to approve or reject the Dhusamareeb agreement.

There is concern about real political instability brewing between Jubbaland Puntland on one hand and the federal government on the other due to the strongly held divergent views among leaders and high political tensions in this pre-electoral period.

Farmajo has conceded much in Dhusamareeb. He has offered to sacrifice one of his legacies – leading the country to a one person, one vote. By abandoning a direct election which he advocated for to end a stalemate, he has angered many of his supporters who are overwhelmingly in favour of universal suffrage.

Somalis, in general, would probably be delighted to participate in an election they can participate in, but would want the next election, whether universal suffrage or indirect, held in a fair and credible manner, free from corruption as witnessed in 2016.

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