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EDITORIAL: Why Somalia’s hopes are banking on Roble’s wisdom


EDITORIAL | Somalia Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble may have one of the world’s most unenviable jobs. But he also holds hopes for millions of Somalis eager to see through a safe, credible, and verifiable election.

On Thursday, after his Cabinet retreat 2020, Mr. Roble noted that his team of ministers will be keen to tame graft, ensure a free and fair election, work towards security and economic issues affecting Somalia.

We are encouraged by the pledge on elections and security; two crucial issues that have preoccupied Somalis for the better part of this year. This platform has often called for proper planning to ensure Somalia retains its credibility of always having peaceful transitions, regardless of the situation the country finds itself in.

Yet Roble has no luxury of time. The new Prime Minister, only a month old in his job may have been a victim of circumstances—there is little he could do from failing on his duty—but he was aware of what awaited him when he applied for the job.

With just weeks remaining before the decisive legislative elections, it means that Mr. Roble’s pledge had better be working already.

Yet there have been challenges notable and concerning to stakeholders. The establishment of relevant election committees which were to help identify delegates to vote for the MPs were sorely delayed. Given the timelines already agreed on between the Federal Government and federal member states, this delay could cause a chink in the entire chain of steps needed to hold successful polls.

These questions were raised prominently as October ended. We do not suggest that Somalia should keep biting its fingers on lateness, but we propose that any wasted time be recompensed with an adequate commitment of those committee members to work within a short time.

Of course, this will require the steady leadership of the Prime Minister. Yet despite him enjoying a rare political backing from most stakeholders, there have been other indications of political gerrymandering that could undercut him.

This past week, we have witnessed the strategic but clandestine bickering between President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and Jubaland leader Ahmed Madobe on the status of troops in the Gedo region near the border with Kenya.

These troops were sent there as part of a national security plan but have now turned into a political chess piece. It appears the battle is whether the troop's presence or absence could aid a political endgame especially as the election of MPs nears.

It should be remembered that under the new model of elections, polling stations for the election of MPs will be scattered across the federal states and Gedo in Jubaland appears to be one of them.

If the tussle between Farmajo and Madobe continues, there is a high risk of it playing into the outcome of the elections, causing unnecessary disagreements.

With a slow preparation for elections, and in a country already faced with a security challenge from Al-Shabaab, a disagreement between levels of government could be an unneeded distraction. Quite often, such distractions end up benefitting al-Shabaab, not even the parties involved in the feud.

That is why Mr. Roble has a full plate to lead a government through an election everyone sees as the first pillar of stability. How he lobbies different levels of government officials to support his cause, avoid gerrymandering, and stick to timelines will be his biggest headache.

But he can do well to remember that millions of people who have no direct vote in the upcoming elections are banking on his wisdom.


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