Compromise is key to delivering 2020 elections in Somalia
Somalia is preparing to hold parliamentary elections later this year while a new president should be elected early next year. The Provisional Constitution sets a four-year term for both state organs meaning the current parliament’s term lapses December 27, 2020 while that of the President is February 8 taking into consideration when the incumbent president and parliament came to office four years ago.
That process has however run into headwinds owing to absence of a concrete agreement on how and when the elections will be conducted. The National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC) has ruled out any elections this year under the One-Person-One-Vote (OPOV) electoral model. To realise this milestone, NIEC has said it would need between nine and 13 months. The former timeline is based on adoption of a manual voter registration system while the latter takes into consideration biometric voter registration.
But to operate within the confines of the law and uphold and ensure timely handover of power, Somalia and Somalis will need to agree on a compromise which will deliver an election this year. The ongoing meeting in Dhusamareeb by Federal Government and Federal Member State leaders and expected to break the stalemate. Critical for a successful election is a buy-in from key stakeholders who in this case include and not limited to the Federal Government, Parliament, Federal Member States and political parties.
The inclusion of civil society, youth and women is also integral in delivering an acceptable poll. The Dhusamareeb meeting which is a rare one in recent months is expected to culminate into a compromise electoral model. This could be in the form of or similar to the 2016/17 option which saw the participation of 14,025 delegates who elected the 275-member Lower House. Senators were then elected by FMS parliaments.
Happening amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, floods and desert locust invasion, preparation for elections will require a greater latitude of compromise by the various stakeholders to ensure the country remains on course in responding to prevailing challenges. The country’s leadership will also need to guard against attempts to extend the terms of the current executive and parliament since this risk eroding the confidence of the people and instability.
Accepting that OPOV is not viable in the current circumstances and charting a compromise cause is key to ensuring continuity and stability. Somalia has since the onset of the first permanent post-civil war government in 2000 experienced peaceful transfer of power-a feat uncommon in a number of African countries.
This stability can only be guaranteed if Somalia’s leaders once again put their minds together and agree on a fair and practicable electoral model which can deliver elections this year. The journey to OPOV in the next electoral cycle must then start in earnest when the new administration takes office.
Written By: Ahmed Abdirahman Omar, Freelance journalist,