Somali leaders to strike deal as UN piles more pressure over electoral impasse

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After several months of tussles, Somalia’s political leaders have seemingly reached an agreement, which would effectively end the political impasse, that had rocked the country, leading to international community concerns.

For the last five days, the leaders under the stewardship of Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble, have been holed up in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, where they have been discussing the way forward on timely elections among other contributing factors.

Outgoing President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo’s term had expired in February, leading to protests which at times turned violent, thus pressure from the international community, which plays a significant role in pushing for peace and stability in the country.

To resolve the deadlock, Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble met with the presidents of five regions to address their concerns over the election’s conduct. Later, he held meetings with members of the opposition, who had appreciated his approach.

“We have now reached an agreement that will lead Somalia to free and fair elections. Going forward Somalia needs to have a predictable transition based on elections that is inclusive, credible, free, and fair,” Abdirizak Mohamed said during a U.N. meeting on Somalia.

“This is a challenge and opportunity which the Somali people, government, and partners must capitalize to ensure sustainable development and country.”

Foreign Minister Mohamed said among the sticking points resolved was the formation of an election committee, whose absence had prevented the election of new legislators in December.

In April, the lower house of parliament voted to extend the president’s four-year term by another two years. The Senate rejected the move, provoking a political crisis.

The political crisis had raised fears that al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab insurgents could exploit a security vacuum if state forces split along clan lines and turn on each other.

In late April, troops opposed to President Mohamed’s extension of term in office briefly seized key points in the capital, raising fears of a complete disintegration of the national army along clan lines.

The soldiers have since returned to their barracks following negotiations by the Prime Minister, who pledged to solve the matter expeditiously. The foreign minister said a more comprehensive statement was due to be given on Thursday, May 27.

UN pressure mounts on FGS

As a key stakeholder, the United Nations has been in the frontline pushing for the implementation of the agreement, which had been signed in September last year, but whose implementation was a major concern by stakeholders in the Horn of Africa nation.

In his brief to United Nations Security Council [UNSC] on Tuesday, in regard to the concerted diplomatic efforts, UN envoy James Swan expressed deep regret about the Somali Government’s rejection of the new African Union High Representative tasked with Somalia electoral crisis mediation, John Mahama.

Mahama, who has since withdrawn from the arrangement, was accused by Mogadishu of being a close ally of Kenya, which has often been dragged to the murky politics of Somalia. Kenya has persistently refuted claims of having vested interests in Somalia.

September 17th deal signatories, Swan noted, “must now commit to a clear way forward withholding of poll. Without this, progress on key national priorities will continue to be hampered, or worse, reversed, in critical areas, including in the security, economic and development sectors in Somalia”.

“I commend all the Somali leaders who sought compromise and #consensus during this period… in the interest of the nation and the Somali people. This spirit of compromise remains an urgent necessity going forward,” SRSG James Swan told UN Security Council.

At the UN Security Council meeting also, the SRSG Swan noted the opportunity before Somalia’s leaders: “It is imperative that the ongoing summit in Mogadishu yield an implementable agreement to hold elections in the shortest time possible.”

Based on the government’s assurance, all parties are expected to sign the agreement on Thursday [tomorrow] which will mark the beginning of the electioneering period in the Horn of Africa nation, whose stability has been a major concern for international partners.