Somalia’s opposition groups have called for an urgent meeting with President Mohamed Farmaajo and other stakeholders in an attempt to resolve the electoral impasse that saw the country miss key poll deadlines.
But the grouping, known as the Council of Presidential Candidates, wants the conference held on their terms, including that President Farmaajo attends as a candidate and not as a sitting head of state.
The Council on Wednesday said there was a need to resolve outstanding issues from the September 17, 2020 electoral agreement, known in Somalia as the Dhusamareb III Agreement.
Led by former President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, his successor President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud and ex-Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire, the Council said the meeting should be held in Mogadishu, not elsewhere.
On Tuesday, Farmaajo had called for a meeting of all federal state leaders after an earlier meeting last week ended in a stalemate. He set the new meeting for February 15 in Garowe, Puntland.
Puntland and Jubbaland states accepted the invitation for the meeting but disagreed on the venue, asking Farmaajo to relocate the meeting to Mogadishu and include all stakeholders, including political parties, aspirants, civil society activists and the international community.
“I welcome Puntland’s position that the conference should be held in Mogadishu as the term of President Farmaajo has come to an end in order for all political stakeholders, including the parliament Speaker, opposition candidates and civil society, to participate,” said Senator Ilyas Ali Hassan, Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Himilo-Qaran, the political party led by former President Ahmed.
Somalia is in a stalemate over the election dates after leaders failed to agree on the composition of the election commission and other contentious issues.
The latest debate is on whether Farmaajo is still legally in office. The Constitution says a presidential term lasts four years from the day a new President is sworn in. Farmaajo was elected on February 8, 2017 and sworn in on February 17, 2017. His opponents, as well as Puntland and Jubbaland, have said his term ended on Monday this week.
However, a motion passed by the bicameral federal parliament on September 26 last year said all incumbents must remain in office until their successors are elected and sworn in.
But even if Farmaajo were to remain President, his opponents seem determined to chip away at his influence.
“Farmaajo doesn't have a mandate to convene a meeting,” said Abdishakur Abdirahman, leader of Wadajir Party and one of the presidential aspirants.
“He has lost credibility and lacks commitment. He’s an obstacle to the implementation of the 17 September agreement. CPC (Council of Presidential Candidates) will only accept the outcome of a conference they are part of. Farmaajo can take part just like any other candidate,” he added.