Somalia’s Parliament has extended its mandate and that of President Mohamed Farmaajo by two years, giving the incumbent some respite but creating a potential opposition from the international community and some aspirants.
The decision was reached on Monday after an emergency assembly of the Lower House saw some 149 MPs vote to extend their mandate with three voting against and one abstaining from the vote. The House usually has 275 MPs.
President Farmaajo welcomed the decision, saying it will correct the incessant disagreements on the electoral model.
He said national elections lie within the jurisdiction of the Republic and are independent to the people Government of Somalia.
The president said all government agencies will carry out their mandates using diplomatic terms & principles without tolerating any external interference.
"The Government shall play its key role in the implementation of the electoral law as passed by the House of the people to rightfully restore the constitutional power to the Somali people," he said.
The MPs say the two years should provide enough time for the country to be ready for universal suffrage, something it had failed to organise in four years.
“His Excellency, President Mohamed Farmaajo urges the citizens to seize the historic chance to choose their destiny as the House of the People voted to return the elections mandate to the people.
“This followed after the failure of FMS members to support the implementation of the initial Sep 17, 2020 Agreement,” said a statement from Villa Somalia, Farmaajo’s official residence in Mogadishu.
The decision may undercut the calls by the international community and opposition groups who had opposed extension of mandate and any moves that could jeopardise the implementation of an indirect election based on an agreement reached on September 17, 2020.
Under the agreement signed by President Farmaajo and leaders of five federal states; an indirect election was to be based on delegates nominated by elders in conjunction with the electoral management bodies. The delegates were to elect MPs who in turn vote for the president.
But the parties disagreed on who should be members of the electoral commission, security arrangements and venue of the polls in some of the federal states.
Last week, the parties fell out for the fourth time, failing to agree on the way forward and making no arrangements to return to the table. Opposition groups and donors demanded resumption of talks. They didn’t.
“Farmajo's train has arrived at the station it had been running towards. Many people who were unsure about his intention now know better,” said Mr Abdishakur Abdirahman, leader of Wadajir Party and a presidential aspirant.
“Anyone who provides financial, military or diplomatic support to Farmajo's unconstitutional acts becomes part of a crime against the Somali people.”
Mr Abdirahman and several other aspirants had formed the Council of Presidential Candidates, a caucus which has insisted on no extensions or parallel electoral programmes. Last week, the group led by ex-President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed called on parties to return to the table.