Somalia has revised its electoral calendar, again, but vowed to implement the new timetable that now effectively means the polls will run beyond Christmas Day, more than a year after the initial programme was released.
After chairing a National Consultative Forum (NCF) meeting, Somalia’s Prime Minister on Thursday said the pending Lower House elections will now be concluded by December 24, to pave way for presidential polls.
The NCF is the top organ that decides on the clan-based indirect electoral modality and includes presidents of the five Federal Member States of Puntland Said Abdullahi Deni, Galmudug Ahmed Abdi Karie Qoorqoor, South West Abdiaziz Hassan Laftagareen, Jubbaland Ahmed Mohamed Islam Madobe, Hirshabelle Ali Hussein Gudlawe and the Mayor of Mogadishu Omar Mohamed Filish.
The elections for the Lower House, composed of 275 MPs, was originally scheduled for December last year before subsequently being rescheduled several times as stakeholders bickered on a proper model to adopt.
In fact, under a rearranged calendar adopted in August, the Lower House vote should have been held between September and October for elections of the President to follow before October 12. The deadlines were missed mostly because the Upper House vote was delayed.
On Thursday night, the leaders agreed to assert fresh energy to avoid further election delays, aiming at concluding the process before the end of this year.
The delegates representing Somaliland or the northwestern regions in Mogadishu had elected two MPs on 1st of October, one of which had been won by Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Mohamed Guled aka Khadar.
Earlier on Thursday, the Federal Electoral Implementation Team (FEIT), the organ assigned by the NCF to manage the election processes, issued a statement in Mogadishu, acknowledging that election timelines previously announced had not been successful.
“Even the schedule to complete the elections by 20th of November appears to have failed,” the FEIT statement admitted.
The Team urged the federal Government to urgently provide the financial support so that elections are now carried out and concluded by 24th of December.
“We urge all political stakeholders, state governments, interested partners and the general public to support the process so that Somalia has complete legislative organs before the end of the year,” the statement reiterated.
It added, “From there onward, the elected legislators will be sworn, elect their leaderships and embark on the process of electing a federal president.”
Somalia’s bicameral parliamentary election was supposed to be elected in 2020, but squabbles between some leaders of the federal member states and President Mohamed Abdullahi Famaajo dragged discussions indefinitely.
In September 2020, the NCF then chaired by Farmaajo agreed on an electoral formula, but the mechanisms to implement again posed problems including armed skirmishes between supporters of the opposition figures and the government forces.
To clear the problems, Farmaajo delegated the leadership of the electoral process to his Prime Minister Roble on 1st of May this year. But, though progress was made by the Roble chaired NCF, still problems have not ended and have kept on delaying the elections.
The elections of the vast majority of the senate seats, 52 of them, were elected in August and September this year, leaving Galmudug State to elect the remaining 2 seats.
The good news was that Galmudug President Qoorqoor issued on Wednesday a list of four candidates to contest for the pending two seats, indicating that the candidates will be registered on Thursday and Friday, paving the way for the state’s parliament to conduct election on Saturday.
On a number of occasions, Somalia’s International Partners led by the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy to Somalia James Swan have urged the Somali sides to ensure that elections are completed before the end of this year.