The United Nations has welcomed the decision reached by Somali leaders to hold presidential and parliamentary elections within two months, following five days of intense negotiations in Mogadishu, the nation’s capital.
“We urge all stakeholders to move forward swiftly in the same spirit of compromise and cooperation to implement this agreement. We further encourage the federal government and federal Member States leaders to continue regular consultations throughout the electoral process to ensure that any emerging disputes can be resolved quickly,” said James Swan, UN Special Representative for Somalia and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM).
In early April, the House of the People of the Somali Parliament had adopted a “Special Law” to extend the mandates of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed “Farmajo” and the current Parliament for up to two more years, abandoning a landmark electoral agreement reached on 17 September 2020. Opposition to these moves led to the mobilisation of militias and exposed divisions within Somali security forces. Violent clashes ensued on 25 April, risking broader conflict and threatening progress made in the country over the years.
Led by Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble, the agreement on Thursday concluded a Federal Government of Somalia – federal Member States (FGS-FMS) Summit that the United Nations and other diplomatic partners had described as a “critical opportunity that must not be missed to advance peace and security in Somalia”.
At the end of the summit, a communiqué to end the impasse was issued with key resolutions on the formation of electoral committees at the federal and state levels; the resolution on the management of the Somaliland election committee management, resolving election and security issues in Gedo region; implementation of the women’s quota and the release of the elections timetable and completion of the roadmap to state-building.
It also stated that Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble would lead the process of appointing members of theFederal Electoral Implementation Team (FEIT) and the State Electoral Implementation Teams (SEIT).
The leaders also agreed that the process to elect the president and members of Parliament would be completed in sixty (60) days. To this end, the electoral committee will issue a timetable agreed upon by the federal and state-level electoral implementation teams. The consultative council of leaders will be responsible for the electoral process and resolve any issues that arise.
The communiqué also gave a timeframe of two years to resolve outstanding issues that include finalising the federal constitution, resource sharing, defining the powers of federal institutions, restructuring of security forces, reaching an agreement on the model of dialogue with Somaliland, and establishing enabling conditions for the implementation of the one-person, one-vote elections.
“This (outcome) is a huge victory for all Somali people. The people want peace, they want elections and they are ready. I really want to thank you for all the efforts you put in today,” said President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed ‘Farmaajo’, who said that the agreement was the result of inclusive, consensus-based negotiations.
The Prime Minister, Mohamed Hussein Roble said, “The government is committed to implementing this agreement. The agreement will lead us to inclusive, free and fair elections in which all rights will be observed and respected.”
Honouring the agreement “It is important that updated timelines for the Upper House, House of People and presidential elections be issued as soon as possible. We also look forward to the rapid establishment of election implementation bodies at federal and state levels, and full implementation of the National Election Security Task Force,” UN envoy to Somalia James Swan said at the ceremony to mark the end of the summit.
Echoing Swan’s call for Somalia’s leaders to honour commitments made ensuring that women secure at least 30 percent of positions in the electoral committees and in the federal Parliament, federal Minister of Women and Human Rights Development, Hanifa Mohamed Ibrahim, said ensuring the quota representation of women was key.
“Somali women are citizens of this country, and they make up 50 percent of the population. It is in the best interests of the country for elections to happen. It is not right to ignore half of the population and let only one other half dominate leadership roles,” said Minister Hanifa.
In sentiments echoed by the presidents of the other Federal Member States, the President of Puntland State, Said Abdullahi Deni, said the agreement was important for stability, national security and the restoration of trust in the leaders.
“I wish to assure you of our commitment to holding peaceful elections accepted by all parties. As such, we will jointly work towards implementing the agreement reached here, that will lead us to a peaceful election,” said President Said Abdullahi Deni.