Somalia’s leaders have failed to agree on the main agenda for a crucial electoral meeting, reflecting the unattended fissures between them.
Publicly, they promised to try again on Tuesday, even as the country becomes sorely late on elections initially planned for February this year.
The agenda-setting meeting brought together President Mohamed Farmaajo and leaders of the five Federal Member States (FMS) plus the Governor of Benadir region, the metropolis of Mogadishu.
The five are Said Abdulahi Deni of Puntland, Ahmed Abdi Qoorqoor of Galmudug, Abdiaziz Hassan Laftagareen of South West, Ahmed Mohamed Islam Madobe of Jubaland and Ali Gudlawe Hussein of Hirshabelle.
Others in the meeting at the ‘Big Tent,’ a large makeshift structure inside the heavily-guarded airport perimeter were Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble and the Mayor of Mogadishu, Omar Mohamed Filish.
The talks opened by President Farmaajo on Sunday afternoon looked to be at an ‘initial groundwork’ stage, as parties still harboured mistrust for each other.
This gathering was just the first time in three weeks that all federal state presidents attended, even though they all arrived in Mogadishu three weeks ago.
Puntland and Jubaland leaders had initially accused Farmaajo of twisting the agenda for his benefit. On Sunday though, Villa Somalia, the official residence of Farmaajo, said the President was keen on an amicable solution.
“The President maintains his support for the longstanding efforts towards successful, timely and inclusive elections in Somalia,” Abdirashid Hashi, a spokesman for the President said on Sunday.
Somalia’s international partners have been putting pressure on the eight Somali leaders to reach consensus on the electoral model chosen on September 17, 2020, paving the way for an indirect election to be held in Somalia to choose 75 legislators for the Lower House and 53 senators for the Upper House.
Jubaland and Puntland presidents want prominent members from the opposition, such as the Somali National Salvation Forum, led by the Speaker of the House of the Senators, Abdi Hashi Abdullahi, accompanied by former President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, to join the current round of talks at the ‘Big Tent.’
President Farmaajo, visibly supported by the leaders of Hirshabelle, Galmudug and South West, plus the Mayor of Mogadishu, appear against the reopening of the September 17 agreement.
They have been calling for the quick implementation of the accord’s term in accordance with the so-called Baidoa Framework, an election implementation procedure agreed on February 16.
Somalia’s Minister for Information, Osman Abukar Dubbe, expressed optimism on the way forward.
“It is an icebreaking phase, the hope being that all the sides will find a formula to clear the differences,” he said on Sunday.