Somalia’s key leaders on Sunday reset the electoral programme for the country, advising that all parliamentary elections be completed by February 25.
The decision came following a series of meetings with stakeholders last week, chaired by Prime Minister Hussein Roble under the arrangement known as the National Consultative Council (NCC).
The Council primarily includes Mr Roble as chairman and the five federal presidents of Puntland, Jubbaland, Hirshabelle, South West and Galmudug states. It also includes the governor of Benadir, the metropolitan region that also includes Mogadishu.
On Sunday, the group, after three days of consultations with civil society, opposition leaders and the international community, agreed on an 18-point declaration that could ease uncertainties over the elections in the country.
The document, jointly signed by PM Roble, the five presidents of the Federal Member States (FMS), and the Mayor of Mogadishu, who is also governor of Benadir, stated that the ongoing parliamentary election is concluded between January 15 and February 25.
The parties have agreed on such terms that the names of the clan leaders and the representatives of the civil society that are accepted to select the delegates that vote for each member of the House of the People (HOP) are duly published.]
Somalia initially planned to hold indirect elections from November 2020 but rescheduled the polls thrice, all of which deadlines were missed. The indirect polls are such that specially selected delegates vote for legislators in the bicameral federal house. The legislators then vote for the President.
The delays have meant that President Mohamed Farmaajo has stayed in office longer than his term which technically expired on February 8 last year, four years after he was elected. His stay, though based on a parliamentary law passed to avoid a vacuum when elections are delayed, has often led to tensions as shown last year when security forces split and sided with their clan heads. That tension reduced after leaders agreed Roble should take charge of the elections programme, to avoid any candidates from influencing the timelines.
Under the declaration on Sunday, the State Electoral Implementation Teams (SEIT), the electoral management bodies in federal states, will share with the Federal Electoral Implementation Teams (FEIT) in each constituency the names and identities of the clan-elders and civil society representatives accepted as the selectors of the elections’ delegates.
Somali leaders had, on September 17, 2020, chosen to conduct clan-based indirect elections in Somalia, having failed to hold a one-person, one-vote universal suffrage.
Hence, the leaders meeting in Mogadishu this week have agreed that the teams managing the elections at state and federal levels enjoy full independence as per electoral agreements reached in 2020 and 2021 in line with the communiqué issued on January 9, 2022.
As per previously agreed electoral terms, 101 delegates will be selected to vote for the candidates vying for each seat.
Therefore, the federal and state levels have been urged to ensure that the delegates to vote for each seat are those representing the clan to which the HOP seat is allocated.
The leaders agreed that the FEIT, SEIT, the Electoral Dispute Resolution Committee and the clan leaders and civil society representatives as well as the media are present during the voting for each seat to ensure transparency.