Somalia’s country long delayed presidential election to be held on 10th/October/2021 following an agreement reached on by political leaders after months of deadlock.
The office of Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble unveiled the timetable for indirect parliamentary and presidential elections in a statement on Twitter, saying stakeholders had agreed to a road map for a vote following two days of talks in the capital, Mogadishu.
“I commend the leaders of the council and hope the election will be a peaceful and transparent one, based on the agreed-upon schedule and processes,” the prime minister said.
President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, commonly known as Farmaajo and the leaders of Somalia’s five states had been unable to agree on the terms of a vote before his term lapsed in February, triggering an unprecedented constitutional crisis.
The political impasse exploded into violence in April when negotiations collapsed and the lower house of parliament extended the president’s mandate by two years which sparked off gun battles on the streets of Mogadishu.
Under pressure, the president reversed the mandate extension and ordered his prime minister to reconvene with the state leaders to chart a fresh road map towards elections.
In May this year, the warring leaders announced plans to commence the multi-stage election process within 60 days, helping to ease political tensions in Somalia.
The timetable announced by the end of last month schedules elections for the upper house on July 25, and the lower house between August 10 and September 10 where by both houses will then convene and a vote for the president will be held on October 10.
However, Mr Isse Farah, a Mogadishu-based political analyst, said electoral process may drag on beyond October.
“Agreeing on a timeline is a positive move and a gesture of goodwill, but the schedule was drafted before a solution was found for many possible obstacles,” said Farah.
He indicated that certain issues, for instance, the reconciliation mission for Gedo in Jubbaland may mean the voting there will be delayed.
“The National Consultative Council should have approved and allowed time to solve the Gedo region’s election problem and then come up with the election timeline,” Farah said, indicating that it is like putting the cart before the horse.
‘‘There is also the issue of security and logistics. The terrorist group, Al-Shabaab, remains the biggest threat on public gatherings, besides the Covid-19.’’, Farah added.
Personnel of the Somali military force supporting anti-government opposition leaders are stationed on a street in Mogadishu, Somalia.
Aidarus Hassan, a Mogadishu-based intellectual and keen political observer said that both logistics and security may delay the implementation according to the chosen timetable.
“It looks [like] the parties have not given security and logistical works due considerations,” remarked Hassan, pointing a finger at the massive arrangements required to organize thousands of delegates and officials.
“Imagine meeting the security and movement of so many people in an era of terrorism and spoilers,” he added.
Though Somali politicians generally spend a lot to get elected, including bribing delegates, few are willing to speak about the budget for the polls.
In 2019, then Somali Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) chairperson, Ms Halima Ibrahim Ismail, told the Lower House of Parliament that preparations for universal suffrage could cost $70 million while indirect polls would need $45 million. The latter would need at least eight months, while the former needed two years.
Mohamed Shire, a political rights campaigner in Somalia, said that the civil society organizations have established an information Centre to monitor the elections.
“At the Centre, we will be analyzing data and information emerging from the electoral sites and people concerned,” Shire.
“The ultimate aim is to blow the whistle on any problem before it grows out of proportion,” he added, anticipating many litigations and grievances.
Somalia has been trying to organise elecitions since 2004 following the largest ever reconciliation conference held by Somali politicians in Mbagathi, Nairobi, in October 2004 but failed to organize one-person-one-vote elections
On October 10, 2004, in a session held by the hitherto Somalia’s Transitional Federal Parliament at Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, a former army Colonel, was elected President.
After several attempts to establish his base in the Somali capital Mogadishu, Ahmed eventually succeeded to set up his office in December 2006 at Villa Somalia, the presidential palace.
Somalia just turned 61 on July 1 this year, and the hope is that in four months, the country will have its 10th president in Villa Somalia.
Time will tell whether there will be a new face, if an old guard will return or if the incumbent will retain the throne.
Somalia has not held a direct one-person, one-vote election since 1969, the year Siad Barre led a coup and went on to rule for twenty years.
Barre’s military government collapsed in 1991 and Somalia fell into anarchy, efforts to organize such a ballot election since then had been scuttled.