FGS and FMS to hold virtual meeting ahead of face to face negotiations

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A meeting bringing together leaders from Federal Government of Somalia and federal member states is expected to be held today via zoom, multiple sources have confirmed to MOL, with the first agenda is coming up with the appropriate venue and date for a face to face interaction over impending elections.

The meeting is scheduled for today [Monday] following pressure from the United States and other international partners, who are keen to have President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and regional leaders on the same table, over controversial issues surrounding the electoral process.

The UN through its envoy James Swan has insisted before that both parties should have an honest dialogue over the elections, arguing that the country will remain disunited should Villa Somalia fail to incorporate views from the opposition.

Monday’s meeting, sources said, will involve junior leaders who will act as pacesetters for the anticipated meetings in the coming weeks. Besides settling on date and venue, the participants will also agree on the agenda for the subsequent meetings, reports said.

In a statement last week, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo agreed to host dialogue meetings with federal states and opposition leaders, arguing that it would provide an avenue for all parties to come up with agreeable issues on the electoral process.

In May, Villa Somalia had asked the UN envoy to Somalia to invite all federal states for talks over the upcoming elections. A technical committee was established by the UN and held preliminary virtual meetings a fortnight ago, but parties failed to come up with a common stand.

According to reports, Southwest state representatives refused to acknowledge the date and venue for elections, despite all other states settling for early July. The majority of the representatives had also picked Dhusamareb, the regional administrative capital of Galmadug, as the venue for talks.

Critics accused Villa of Somalia of engineering defiance by Southwest, but the FGS has never issued a statement over the impasse. But a consensus is expected to be reached on Monday due to pressure from international partners, who are the main sponsors of FGS.

Among others, the representatives in the much-anticipated dialogue will discuss the suitable model for upcoming elections. Already, Farmajo has backed a one-person-one-vote system, arguing that it will allow Somalis to pick their representatives without coercion.

But on the contrary, a section of opposition leaders, despite supporting the model, insists that the remaining time cannot allow the organizers to deliver. Instead, the team wants the archaic clan-based model or an alternative to being used before the universal suffrage model is adopted in subsequent elections.

Also, there is a controversy over the representation of women in parliament besides the contentious electoral representation of Banadir and Somaliland regions in the national assembly. Somaliland seceded from Somalia in 1991 while the Banadir region doesn’t belong to the federal states.

A parliamentary ad-hoc committee has tabled a litany of recommendations that will be crowned by a presentation of National Independent Electoral Commission [NIEC] in parliament later on this month on the finer details for the upcoming elections.

During his address to Parliament early this month, Farmajo insisted that the elections will be held in time, despite frequent suspicions from the opposition, who accuse him of a plot to extend his current term against the constitutional provisions.

If the team settles on universal suffrage elections, it will be the first time Somalis will choose their representatives directly. The country has been fighting for stability for many decades now, with Al-Shabaab militants also being the thorn in the flesh.