Somalia’s regional neighbours Kenya and Uganda have joined international partners in endorsing the Horn of Africa country’s latest timeline to complete parliamentary polls by February 25.
And the countries, in a joint statement, said they hoped the new timelines could stick, especially since they were the outcome of broad consultations with stakeholders in Mogadishu.
The statement, also endorsed by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, the United Nations, the European Union and other countries, said the country’s leaders must now ensure the timelines are matched with credible elections.
“We are pleased that the prime minister and the Federal Member State leaders made decisions on the basis of consultations with civil society, women representatives and opposition figures,” they said in a statement also endorsed by Egypt, Japan, the League of Arab States (LAS), Netherlands, Norway, Qatar, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.
“It is time for all Somali leaders to focus on the rapid implementation of agreed decisions so that a credible electoral process can be concluded by 25 February.”
The endorsement by the international partners is critical because they have financed most of the much-delayed elections. On Sunday, Somalia’s Prime Minister Hussein Roble issued an eight-point declaration that said a consultative meeting had agreed on February 25 as the final day for parliamentary elections.
Somalia had initially scheduled elections from November 2020, but disagreements over mode and security arrangements delayed the polls by more than a year. The 54-member Senate elections have been completed, although they also dragged on for three months from August last year.
As it is, Somalia must also fill up the 275 seats in the Lower House to create a bicameral federal parliament that will then vote for a new president, in indirect polls.
On Tuesday, the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, Ethiopia, the EU, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland and Italy also supported calls to speed up the elections.
But the greatest concern among the partners has been Somalia’s key leaders themselves.
Declaration on timelines
Mr Roble issued the declaration on timelines after hosting the National Consultative Council (NCC), which he chairs and includes all the five federal state presidents as well as the mayor of Mogadishu. But he did so following a public spat with President Mohamed Farmaajo, who had accused the PM of failing to deliver elections on time.
On Monday, President Farmaajo calmed nerves in the country after publicly backing a new polls calendar announced by PM Roble.
Through a video announcement, Mr Farmaajo said he was fully committed to ensuring the election process is completed as soon as possible.
This backing was important because he and the PM had appeared to pull apart on who should be in charge of the country’s executive powers, especially security, as the country discussed what to do with the unfinished polls.
But that declaration came just 10 days after Mr Farmaajo labelled Mr Roble a failure in conducting elections. The Somali president had suspended the PM, who later defied him.
Mr Farmaajo’s speech on Monday, broadcast on national TV, urged the leaders of the Federal Member States (FMS) to accelerate the elections in line with the communiqué issued on Sunday following the NCC meeting chaired by PM Roble in Mogadishu.
He referred to the document jointly signed by the prime minister, the five presidents of the federal states and the mayor of Mogadishu, who is also the governor of Benadir, stating that the ongoing parliamentary election will be concluded between January 15 and February 25.