| 10 December 2023, Sunday |

Somali leaders agree to hold legislative elections by February 25

Somalia’s leaders declared on Sunday that they had reached an agreement to hold parliamentary elections by February 25, despite previous delays that had jeopardized the country’s stability.

The accord was achieved after many days of meetings with state leaders convened by Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble to resolve a serious political crisis.

“The continuing election of the Chamber of the People (lower house) will be concluded between January 15 and February 25, 2022,” officials announced following the meetings in Mogadishu.

Mr Roble and Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, better known by his nickname Farmaajo, have long been at odds over the country’s long-delayed elections, with worries that their squabble would become violent.

The international world has expressed concern over the issue, worrying for the destiny of the fragile Horn of Africa nation, which is fighting a violent insurgency led by Al Shabab terrorists.

The two leaders’ long-running feud flared anew last month when Mr Mohamed removed Mr Roble, whom he had appointed as premier in September 2020.

Mr Roble, however, rejected the order, accusing the president of violating the constitution and attempting a coup, as troops loyal to him roamed the streets of the city.

Mr Mohamed, whose presidency ended over a year ago, received calls from opposition leaders to resign and face an investigation into his activities.

Mr Roble has demanded that Mr Mohamed restore his authority before the polls can continue, accusing the president of using the military forces to influence the process.

“Members of the military forces must be politically neutral and constrained to completing their duty to safeguard the nation while complying by the legislation of the country,” the statement read on Sunday.

The message went on to say that “Amisom peacekeeping personnel should impose security at the presidential palace,” referring to the African Union mission in Somalia.

Mr Mohamed’s four-year term expired in February, but parliament controversially extended it in April, sparking fatal gun fights on Mogadishu’s streets.

Mr Roble then mediated a new voting schedule, but the pair’s antagonism disrupted the polls once more in the months that followed.

As the different crises have played out, fighters from the Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabab have continued to carry out lethal strikes, raiding a village near the capital last month.

In the last 50 years, Somalia has not staged a one-man, one-vote election.

Voting is conducted in a convoluted indirect approach in which state legislatures and clan delegates select parliamentarians for the national parliament, who then select the president.

Nearly 30,000 clan delegates are allocated to pick the 275 MPs for the lower house, while the 54-member upper house is elected by Somalia’s five state legislatures.

  • AFP