Group rejects new plan for Somalia vote

Somalia elections

A man casts his ballot in Baidoa, Somalia, during the elections on November 16, 2016. 

Photo credit: Simon Maina | AFP

What you need to know:

  • FEIT chairman Mohamed Hassan Irro said Senate elections which were to be held last week would be pushed to early January.
  • Delegates vote for MPs, some 54 senators and 275 representatives in the Lower House, who in turn vote for the president in a joint sitting.

Politicians in Somalia agree that the country has missed many trains to ensure universal suffrage. In September, they agreed on an alternative: indirect elections to be conducted through delegates.

Now they can’t agree on who to officiate the elections. The squabble, which began late last month, has seen 14 hopefuls under the banner of the Union of Presidential Candidates threaten to boycott the polls if the current Federal Electoral Implementation Team (FEIT) is not reviewed.

That though has not stopped the FEIT from working. The team on Wednesday announced a rescheduled calendar for parliamentary elections, delaying them by up to three weeks.

FEIT chairman Mohamed Hassan Irro said Senate elections which were to be held last week would be pushed to early January.

“According to the procedures, the election of the members of the Upper House (Senate) will be implemented first,” Irro said on Wednesday, adding that candidates should submit their applications by December 29.

“The election of the Upper House will have to be completed between December 31, 2020 and January 6, 2021,” he said.

Five states

Irro and his team assumed that everything will work according to plan.

The indirect elections were agreed on in September between the Federal government of President Mohamed Farmaajo and leaders of the five states and the regional administration of Benadir, the metropolis of Mogadishu.

The states are Jubbaland, Puntland, Hirshabelle, South West and Galmudug.

Irro says everything should go as planned if the electoral team and the federal administration start registering contestants for the Lower House, or House of the People from January 7.

That will have to start with selection and training of clan elders and representatives of the civil society who will then help select delegates.

Delegates vote for MPs, some 54 senators and 275 representatives in the Lower House, who in turn vote for the president in a joint sitting.

“Selection and training will be according to the procedures of the election model,” Irro added.

The Team did not say why there had been a new schedule. But Somalia has missed nearly all deadlines since the deal, known as the Dhusamareb III Agreement, was reached in the capital of Galmudug state.

There has been no training of delegates, no selection of the elders and no registration of candidates. Even FEIT itself does not attract consensus.

Among members of the Union of the Presidential Candidates is former presidents Sheikh Sharif Ahmed and Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud and ex-PM Hassan Khaire.

Others include former parliamentary Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, former finance minister Hussein Abdi Halane and former interior minister and later president of Galmudug Abdikarim Hussein Guled.

Moments after details of the rescheduled polls were announced, the 14 contenders said it was recipe for rigging.

illegal election procedure

“We blame President Farmaajo for encouraging an illegal election procedure,” they said in a statement issued by their spokesperson Ridwan Hersi Mohamed.

“The president is against the suggestions put forward by the opposition, the civil society and Somalia’s international partners; who have said election matters should be implemented through consensus.”

Mohamed said the president would be responsible for the consequences of the new schedule.

Doubts about the electoral teams means the credibility of the process will be put into question. No sitting Somali president has been re-elected since the overthrow of Siad Barre in 1991. Farmaajo wants to be the first. 

Ahmed Madobe, the President of Jubbaland – which borders Kenya – said elections would not be held in his territory until federal troops in Gedo are withdrawn.

Mogadishu then accused Kenya of prevailing upon Madobe to renege on the electoral deal.

Somalia has since cut ties with Kenya. But Jubbaland and Puntland have made other demands to ensure elections run smoothly.

Opposition groups have also demanded a new list of officials to handle the selection of representatives from Somaliland.

Though it claims independence, the unrecognised Somaliland often sends representatives to the Somalia Parliament.

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