Federal Member State leaders in Somalia have ruled out the possibility of one-man-one-vote elections to be held on time. They have called for an alternative, inclusive model to be implemented before the government’s mandate expires.
In a five-point communique released at the end of their consultative meeting in Dhusamareb, the regional leaders agreed with the NIEC’s assessment that universal suffrage would not be feasible in the forthcoming elections.
The National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC) chairperson Halima Yarey told parliament in late June that the commission needed up to 13 months to prepare a credible poll where Somalis will cast their vote individually.
They agreed that the best path forward is for the FMS leaders to sit with President Farmajo and Prime Minister Khaire to seek a politically negotiated electoral model.
Both the President and the Prime Minister have backed a cabinet resolution to have timely elections as stipulated by the constitution, with the PM warning that Somalia risks plunging into political and constitutional crisis should elections be delayed.
Somalia may now contemplate something akin to the 2016 indirect elections model in which 14,025 delegates elected the 275 MPs, who in turn elected the President or a similar version to meet the constitutional timelines.
The term of the current parliament ends December 27 while that of the President lapses by February 8, 2021.
The FMS leaders have proposed Dhusamareb as the setting for the talks.
The choice of Dhusamareb as the location for such talks came as a bit of a surprise as most observers had assumed the FMS consultative meeting in Dhusamareb was a prelude to a National Security Council meeting with the federal government in Mogadishu.
At the urging of the UN Security Council, President Farmaajo called for the NSC meeting – the first one in nearly two years – with regional leaders on June 25. He hoped it would take place from July 5-8.
The Council last met in Baidoa in June 2018, owing to quarrels between Mogadishu and the Federal Member States.
It is unclear whether any other stakeholders, such as Somalia’s parliament, Benadir officials, or opposition figures, will be invited to participate.