Somalia Faces Political Crisis Without Deal Over Election
Somalia’s leaders failed to reach consensus after a three-day meeting to address obstacles to holding presidential elections next week, raising the prospect of a political crisis in the Horn of Africa country.
The outcome of the meeting in the city of Dhusamareeb is a clear indication it won’t be possible to hold elections as scheduled, Parliament Speaker Mohamed Mursal told lawmakers Saturday. It is the responsibility of parliament to uphold the constitution and provide a solution, he said.
President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, popularly known as Farmajo, assured lawmakers there won’t be a power vacuum when his tenure ends on Feb. 8. It is the responsibility of parliament to ensure no such scenario emerges, he said Saturday. There are no publicly available details about how this could be achieved if the vote is delayed.
The current impasse was partly sparked by the federal state of Jubaland and the semi-autonomous region of Puntland after they both refused to sign a pact introducing a new electoral model, according to Farmajo. A group of presidential aspirants also disagreed with the planned process and said electoral commission officials appointed by the head of state were partial.
The president said he remains hopeful that all stakeholders will accept the electoral model reached in September last year and proceed with negotiations to overcome the impasse as soon as possible.
Farmajo is a frontrunner in the vote that’s attracted many other candidates, including former presidents Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud and former Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire. A year ago, the president signed into law legislation that would enable universal suffrage in Somalia for the first time in more than half a century, although that become impractical to achieve this year.
Last month, the United Nations said Somalia’s election date of Feb. 8 was impractical for the nation struggling to set up a stable government after decades of civil war and amid an Islamist insurgency. The vote “seems unrealistic at this time,” said James Swan, the UN secretary-general’s special representative to the country. “This is a complicated endeavor.”
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