Opposition politicians in South West State have demanded that elections for a new president commence in November.
The leaders, many of whom are presidential candidates themselves, argue that the “term of the political arrangement in South West state” is set to end on November 1, 2023.
Following a three-day meeting in Nairobi that concluded on Tuesday, these opposition figures accused President Lafta Gareen’s administration of failing to uphold the provisions of the February 4, 2023 agreement, particularly in relation to citizen rights and the organization of democratic and inclusive elections.
They claim that the current government has not fulfilled its obligations and are determined to ensure that South West State transitions smoothly into a new leadership.
The controversy surrounding President Lafta Gareen’s term extension began in April 2020 when the state parliament in Baidoa endorsed a motion to extend his term by an additional two years.
This decision was made as his initial four-year term, which commenced in December 2018, was set to conclude in December 2022. Proponents of the extension argued that aligning the president’s term with that of the parliament, which ends in 2024, would facilitate simultaneous parliamentary and presidential elections.
However, the opposition leaders vehemently reject this reasoning and maintain that the extension was unjustified. They assert that the president’s term should adhere to the original timeline and that immediate elections are necessary to uphold democratic principles.
In addition to their demand for prompt presidential elections, the opposition leaders have called for the formation of an election committee tasked with the responsibility of electing new members of parliament. This committee, they argue, will ensure a fair and transparent electoral process that accurately represents the will of the people.
The political landscape in South West State is now poised for a potential clash between the government and the opposition, as both sides dig in their heels regarding the timing and legitimacy of the presidential election.
The opposition’s demands, coupled with their criticism of President Lafta Gareen’s administration, have heightened tensions in the region and raised concerns about the future of democratic governance in South West State.