Somalia’s President Mohamed Farmaajo has scheduled another meeting with federal state leaders in the latest attempt to resolve an impasse that saw the country miss key election deadlines.
But his call to host a meeting in Garowe, the capital of the semi-autonomous Puntland state, was quickly met with accusations of ambush by the hosts, threatening to derail the actual meeting due on February 15.
A statement issued by Villa Somalia, Farmaajo’s official residence in Mogadishu, said he was calling for the meeting to discuss pending issues.
“HE Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo President of the Federal Republic of Somalia shall, on Monday 15th Feb 2021, host a Federal and State Level Summit on the implementation of the 17 Sep Elections Agreement,” Villa Somalia said on Tuesday night.
“The leadership convention will be held in Garowe, Puntland State of Somalia.”
The call for a meeting appeared to heed the counsel of the international community who had suggested that only dialogue between the stakeholders will resolve the stalemate that has seen the country unable to hold elections before Farmaajo’s presumptive term expired on Monday.
The UN Security Council, gathering virtually for an emergency meeting on Tuesday night, said Somalia’s leaders should “work together in the interests of the people of Somalia to reach consensus on the arrangements for the conduct of inclusive elections, with a view of holding them as soon as possible.”
A similar call had been made earlier by the African Union Peace and Security Council which said Somalia’s trajectory from years of war depends on an agreeable election timetable.
But Puntland President Said Abdullahi Deni said that while he welcomed another meeting, the choice of the venue was an ambush.
“The mandate of the FGS [Federal Government of Somalia] ended on 8th Feb; therefore, the Government of Puntland suggests that the consultative meeting should be held in Mogadishu with participation of FMS [Federal Member States], political stakeholders and international partners,” Deni said on Tuesday night.
Villa Somalia did not immediately clarify on how Garowe was chosen, but Puntland and Jubbaland are the two states that have mostly opposed certain clauses of an election agreement known as the Dhusamareb III Agreement.
The bone of contention is the implementation of an agreement signed on September 17, 2020 following a series of talks in Dhusamareb, the capital of Galmudug state.
If the meeting goes on in Garowe without the participation of Puntland officials, Farmaajo would have scored key points against Deni in the eyes of the international community, argued Dr Abdiwahab Sheikh Abdisamad, a Kenyan analyst of the Horn of Africa politics.
“He is making Deni look guilty so that if he sabotages the meeting, he will be a spoiler in the eyes of the international community,” Abdisamad told The EastAfrican on Wednesday.
The squabble is about who should be in the electoral commission to conduct the polls with some opposition groups saying the established team is composed of the President’s cronies.
Jubbaland and the Federal government have also bickered on troop deployment to Gedo while the stakeholders have also not agreed on election dates and exact venues.
Yet this may also be a signal on the strength of federal states against Farmaajo’s government.
Of the five federal states, Hirshabelle, Galmudug and South West have routinely formed a coalition of the willing backing Farmaajo’s decisions. They are also led by Presidents elected under Farmaajo’s tenure but whose polls were seen as unfair and are seen as weaker than the FGS. Jubbaland and Puntland, the older and stronger states, have, on the other hand, often pulled in the opposite direction.
On Saturday, Jubbaland President Ahmed Madobe accused Farmaajo of “lacking a single factor of normalcy”, saying Villa Somalia had changed position on issues concerning Gedo that the two sides had earlier agreed on.