Somalia’s federal states have announced partial programmes to resume delayed parliamentary elections meant to fill up the House of the People, the country’s Lower House.
Galmudug State, which had begun its polls then suspended them, announced that it would elect 21 more legislators in the coming days, according to a programme issued by the local State Electoral Implementation Team (SEIT).
Galmudug SEIT, just like the various other electoral bodies in the five other federal states, have been writing to the national body, the Federal Electoral Implementation Team (FEIT), to indicate how they are adopting the new calendar where the stakeholders agreed to hold all parliamentary elections by February 25.
The deal was agreed on earlier this month by the National Consultative Council (NCC) meeting on January 9, urging all electoral committees to start accelerating the elections of the members of the House of the People. The Council is chaired by Prime Minister Hussein Roble.
Each federal state is supposed to provide its own calendar as long as it fits in the schedule agreed on by the Council.
And as per the NCC’s decision, constituencies were to start the elections by January 15.
Galmudug’s SEIT announced the list on the same January 15. It was a significant move because it was the largest number of seats to be voted on the same day as announced by any federal region so far. Four of those seats will be exclusive to women.
Hirshabelle State issued a list of 11 seats. In the outgoing parliament, two of the seats announced by Hirshabelle had belonged to prominent politicians, namely Abdulkadir Osoble Ali, a member of the Coalition of the (opposition) Presidential Candidates, and Ms Khadija Mohamed Dirie, the interim Minister for Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management.
Ms Dirie landed at Jowhar airport, the local capital, this week, announcing that she is there to regain her seat.
“I am back to where my parents and I were born with the confidence that I will be re-elected to the House of the People,” Ms Dirie told a large of number of people gathered next to the runway to receive her.
In the previous parliament, 13 seats had been allocated for Hirshabelle’s Jowhar town, and were occupied by legislators like Mohamed Islow Duale, a former internal security minister, and Abdullahi Mohamed Nur, the current holder of the internal security portfolio who happens to be a close associate of PM Roble.
The presence in the lists of candidates of old brasses and newcomers indicates tough duels ahead.
Jubbaland State, by far the most southern state in Somalia, announced 43 seats will be open for contest.
Jubbaland had already held the voting for 4 seats in Kismayu town, the interim capital of the state, 500km south of Mogadishu.
Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble together with other members of the NCC, namely the presidents of the states of Puntland, Galmudug, Hirshabelle, South West and Jubbaland plus the Mayor of Mogadishu, had urged all the electoral teams to act prudently and hasten the election processes.
The SEIT of Puntland announced that the voting for 10 seats were being prepared on Saturday. On Monday, the team anticipated that the contests for 5 of the 10 seats will take place on January 22 in Garowe town, the capital, 1000km northeast of Mogadishu.
The federal electoral teams embarked on the task of reorganising their structures to gain the confidence of election hopefuls.
On January 15, Muse Guelleh Yusuf was elected the chairman of Somalia’s top election management committee known as the Federal Electoral Implementation Team (FEIT).
The new chair replaces the deposed FEIT leader Mohamed Hassan Irro, whom had been accused by most FEIT members of compromising the neutrality of the committee.
On Tuesday, the Deputy Chairman of the Election Dispute Resolution Committee (EDRC), Mohamed Ibrahim Barre, announced that the committee is to elect its chairperson.
When all nine Somaliland HOP seats were contested, HOP Number 201 was won by Abdullahi Hashi Abiib as announced by the Somaliland Electoral Implementation Team (SEIT).
In Somalia’s clan-based indirect election, contenders are generally determined by clan leaders and associated elders. As a result, many prominent politicians have not returned to parliament.
Former Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke is among the notable leaders who were dropped from the list of contenders.
Sharmarke was not given a chance to defend his Senate seat representing the Puntland State, while Former Speaker of the Lower House, Professor Mohamed Osman Jawari, was denied, amid protest, to contest for re-election in the South West State.
On January 9, the National Consultative Council, under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble and the membership of the presidents of the five Federal Member States, issued a communiqué instructing all constituencies to complete the election of the HOP members between January 15 and February 25.
The 54 members of the Upper House (senators) have already been elected. Thus, once the election of the 275 MPs of the Lower House is complete, the two chambers will be expected to hold a joint session to elect a president.