The words dither and delay are now synonymous with Somali elections. For almost a year, the Somali political establishment have failed to hold elections.
Irrespective of whether the Somali Federal leadership, Federal Member States, the opposition group or foreign forces had a part to play, the real victims of this political uncertainty & inconvenience are the Somali people.
Now, before we delve into the current political impasse and President Deni, let’s examine the political rollercoaster that is the Somali Presidential election.
The Afisyooni Talks
It was in July 2020 that the talks between the Federal government (FGS) and Federal Member states (FMS) began to hit a roadblock. The leadership in Garowe and Kismaayo were vigorously against any form of direct democracy advocated by the FGS including full suffrage for Somalis and a multi-party system which the Federal Electoral Implementation Team (FEIT) was planning. Instead, suggesting an election model similar to that of the now expired 2016 model. This was eventually was accepted by the FGS due to the unwavering positions of Jubaland and Puntland to replicate the 2016 election model.
Following this, while the FMS of Galmudug, Hirshabelle and Koonfur Galbeed (South West) as well as Maamul Goboleedka Banaadir (Banaadir Regional Government) delivered on their agreed upon electoral committees to Mogadishu, the governments of Puntland and Jubaland refused to do so. In response, President Farmaajo sent a delegation with Prime Minister Rooble at the forefront to compromise with the uncooperative regional governments to no avail. One might ask themselves, with already such large scale compromises achieved in their favour, why would Deni and Madobe continue to hinder the election process? To answer such a question, one can only speculate. Nevertheless, the facts on the ground point to one direction: Dither and Delay.
By February 2021, it was clear that Puntland and Jubaland would rather see the country plunge into an unprecedented constitutional crisis rather than simply fulfil their part to the 17th September Agreement which they were a party to. But How?
The delaying of the fulfilment of the 17th Sept agreement by Feb 8th (The constitutional end date of the Presidency), would raise legal questions regarding his election. Albeit, Law 30 provided the legal underpinnings for the constitutional framework in which the current administration is legally functioning under.
One cannot blatantly ignore the strives made by President Farmaajo to deliver an election. Farmaajo compromised following the Baydhabo technical committee meeting on February 16th, 2021 in which proposals were put forward and agreed upon by all sides, yet by the end of March, Farmaajo had already called for five meetings with FMS to discuss the recommendations, again to no avail.
Instead, Deni and Madobe began a game of cat and mouse, first requesting the meeting to be only Mogadishu, then rejecting Villa Somalia and requesting specifically Xalane. Xalane is the headquarters of foreign ambassadors in Somalia. To request the meeting be in the UN headquarters rather than the Somali Presidential palace is an insult to the Somali Presidency as an institution.
Despite this, once the request was accepted by the President for the greater good of the Somali people, things began to get a little trickier…
Conditions, Conditions, Conditions
- The President, the Government and the Somali Federal Parliament must relinquish power immediately
Under this condition, Deni and Madobe have requested all levels of the Somali Federal government to cease constitutional duties with immediate effect including the President before there can be a meeting regarding the Somali election impasse.
Indeed, upon closer inspection of the Somali Provisional Constitution, one finds such arguments to be inaccurate. Under Section 136 of the Somali Provisional Constitution, the Federal Parliament can adopt a proposed amendment to the Constitution “only after approving it in a final vote in the House of the People by at least two-thirds (2/3)” and a final vote in the Upper House of the Federal Parliament “by at least two-thirds of existing members“.
On the 27th of September 2020, an amendment was introduced into the Somali Federal Parliament which stated an extension to all federal institutions in a situation whereby an electoral framework is not agreed upon. This passed through both houses of Parliament with a two-thirds majority and became Law 30. Consequently, this condition set forward by the regional governments of Puntland and Jubaland had no legal basis under the Somali Provisional Constitution. In actuality, the FGS and all other federal institutions have the legal mandate to continue constitutional requirements.
In fact, tt was under the Presidency of Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud that the Federal Parliament passed Law 20 which enabled the Mahmoud Administration and other Federal institutions to continue functioning until another government was elected.
- The International Community must chair, mediate and be guarantors to the Somali election
The regional governments of Puntland and Jubaland have also demanded that foreign ambassadors in Somalia chair, mediate and be guarantors of the meeting between DFS and FMS as well as the subsequent election. This demand was vigorously and rightfully rejected by President Farmaajo.
Somalia is a sovereign country under international law. This was re-affirmed by the UN Security Council recent statement that Somalia’s sovereignty must be respected. For the last thirty years, Somalia has suffered heavily from foreign interference and the last thing the Somali people need is dictations from foreign and unelected bureaucrats.
Somalia has a government and does not require foreign chairing of its internal affairs as argued by Deni and Madobe.
- All Directors and Commanders of the Federal Security agencies must be removed
This is by far the most perplexing request made by the leaders of Jubaland and Puntland. Evidently, FMS governments have no legal right under the Somali Provisional Constitution to dictate to the Somali President who should be removed from office and who should not as much as the Somali President cannot dictate to regional governments on their security officials. To be specific, Deni and Madobe have requested six heads of security to be removed, including the Chief of the Somali Armed forces, the Chief of the Somali Ground Forces, Somali Police Force Commissioner, Director of the National Intelligence and Security Agency as well as Commanders of Haramcad (Somali Police Special Forces) and Gorgor (Somali Commandos). That would definitively dismantle the entire security structure of the Somali state and with the current raging war against Al-Shabaab as well as threats from neighbouring countries, such a decision would be detrimental to Somali security.
Now, as many of you are aware, the President ultimately decided to step away from the elections and gave responsibility ‘to the Prime Minister.
Under PM Roble, we have seen agreements being signed under the National Consultative Summit between regional leaders both in May and October. The Prime Minister has consistently argued for elections to begin for the Lower House and did the same for the Upper House, yet it was the regional member states that continued to delay.
At the moment, we see the regional states of Galmudug and SouthWest State preparing to hold partial elections. We also see Hirshabelle preparing for elections in Jowhar. However, it is Jubaland and Puntland that continue to delay these elections.
A theme that has remained throughout this election impasse, from Afisyooni to now.
President Deni and the Somali Presidential Elections
Now, interestingly, Regional Leader Said Deni has been rumoured to be running for President for months now.
Many in Puntland want Deni to outline his candidature immediately if he wishes to run for office. Indeed, Deni must relieve himself of Presidential responsibilities including the selection of candidates for the Upper House.
If he intends to run for highest office, his selection of Puntland Upper House candidates amongst other responsibilities would enable him to have significant leeway in the election he intends to stand in against any other candidate.
It is quite hypocritical to say the least as one of the main arguments put forth by Deni and Madobe during the election impasse earlier this year was the issue of President Farmaajo being a candidate for the Presidency.
Now that Farmaajo has transferred any remaining power he had to the PM, Deni must resign as President or at least transfer power to the Vice President. Deni has failed to respond to accusations.
The Minister of Planning, Investment and Economic Development, Jamal Mohamed Hassan has accused Deni of interfering and meddling in the affairs of the Puntland election committee as well as delaying his candidacy announcement so he can manipulate the elections in his favour.
Similarly, many elders and community leaders in SSC have accused Deni of attempting to handpick parliamentary candidates to benefit him.
The reality is that there is a clear conflict of interest at play:
- Mr Deni serves as the President of Puntland, a regional member state and has been elected to this position of power to serve the public of Puntland. Conversely, Deni is using this position of public service to gain for his own political interests.
- If Deni is officially running for President, his hypocritical criticism of President Farmaajo, coupled with his use of his office to ensure Puntland is secured for his Presidential candidacy while simultaneously seeking support from another regional state means that such an election campaign is underpinned by lies and illegality.
For President Deni to run for office, he must acknowledge his intentions publicly, resign as regional leader and begin his campaign like any other candidate.
His personal selection of Upper House candidates as well as his use of office to gain support from President Islam means that his actions could give him an unfair disadvantage in this election.
However, one has to wait and see whether such rumours are a reality with only 2 months to go.
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