Jubbaland President Sheikh Ahmed Islam Madobe may have received a boost in his re-election bid after a statement by the UN cautioned against parallel electoral processes.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ Special Representative to Somalia James Swan said the federal government should use one mode of voting to avoid conflict.
“We will continue to reiterate the need for a single, agreed process according to the Jubbaland constitution and consistent with the federal provisional constitution, and the need to avoid interference or intimidation of any kind,” the envoy wrote in an August 8 letter to Jubbaland Electoral and Boundaries Commission chairman Hamza Abdi Barre.
Swan, also the UN Assistance Mission to Somalia (Unsom) head, said any division on the electoral process could cause instability in the region, which could potentially affect reforms in the entire country.
And while he urged “further consultations to ensure confidence” in the polls, the call against interference or violence could boost Madobe’s argument that Mogadishu is a meddler.
Swan said he was writing on behalf of Unsom, the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (Igad), Kenya, African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), Austria, Belgium, Italy, Denmark, the European Union, the Netherlands, the UK and US — indicating the growing interest in the election.
The statement came after Madobe’s rivals announced a parallel electoral commission.
Known as the Union of Presidential candidates for Change in Jubbaland, the group is composed of politicians, some of who have been ruled out of the contest for failing to meet the tough criteria set by the Jubbaland electoral agency.
They had demanded the relisting of the elders’ council meant to elect MPs, arguing that it was biased and called for local and international observers.
The group also wanted the formation of a parliamentary committee for elections to manage the polls.
The Jubbaland electoral agency rejected the demands.
Ugas Omar Hiirey, the spokesman of the Jubbaland Council of Elders, defended the list as genuine — refuting claims of the opposition group and the federal government in Mogadishu.
“These are the same elders who previously selected MPs for Jubbaland and the federal government of Somalia,” he said.
The elders are supposed to select three nominees for the local parliament after which the commission will get one, each to fill the 75 slots.
The MPs will then elect the president in a secret ballot between August 21 and 25.
While Unsom said it encourages consultations, it suggested that the decision to create an alternative electoral commission would be illegal.
BOOST FOR MADOBE
Experts on Somalia argue that this stand could boost Madobe’s chances as his allies have defended him for sticking to Jubbaland laws.
“When it comes to regional polls in the federal system, it is always the state that has the sole responsibility of administering its elections,” Abdirizak Mohamed, an MP in the Somali Federal Parliament tweeted.
“The Federal Government of Somalia is trying to sway the election in Jubbaland in favour of its candidate in a blatant violation of our constitution.”
As it is by law, the incumbent appoints the electoral commission which in turn appoints the elders’ council, formed from representatives of major clans in Jubbaland. The commission also sets electoral rules.
On Saturday, a group of political parties including Wadajir, Ilays, Union for Peace and Development, Himilo, Nabadadda and the parliamentary caucus of National Rescue issued a statement endorsing the Jubbaland’s official election dates, and cautioned against “naked and negative interference.”
“We call on leaders of the federal government to cease their acts of hindrance and let the Jubbaland agencies take charge of the security of elections,” the parties said, warning unnamed countries of siding with Mogadishu.
“To protect security of the region and strengthen the fight against terrorism, it is essential to safeguard the stability and communal unity in Jubbaland.”
Those challenging Madobe are Mohamed Omar Gedi, Mohamed Abdille Magan, Anab Mohamed Dahir, Abdi Hiis Udan, Ahmed Abdi and Abdirahman Ahmed Rabi, according to the final list by the commission.
Abdinasir Seraar, a former ally of Madobe and Mohamed Dahir Marsheye who once worked with the UN were omitted since they failed to meet the poll conditions.