In Mogadishu, leaders should approach talks with honesty
EDITORIAL | The ongoing talks between President Farmaajo and leaders of Puntland and Jubaland must be encouraged. From the outset, there are many positives that can come out of such meetings, but the most important is the hope it gives our country.
First, it has been every stakeholder’s call that political leaders approach discussions on electoral models and calendars with an open mind. Secondly, stakeholders have also encouraged that leaders work towards consensus and avoid unilateral moves that could harm any concerted effort to hold timely elections.
In Mogadishu, however, there are signs that that piece of advice may be ignored at Villa Somalia. When Presidents Said Abdullahi deni of Puntland and Mohamed Ahmed Madobe of Jubaland landed in Mogadishu on Wednesday, their offices said they were coming with an open mind. They said they expected the same approach from their host, President Farmaajo.
The first day began on a false start with the three simply having dinner and ending the day without movement. The key issue remained on whether the other three federal-state Presidents should be present. It is true that Hirshabelle, South West, and Galmudug had already signed the Dhusamareb III agreement which stipulated how the next elections will be held. The Agreement didn’t say when elections will be held, because parliament was supposed to discuss it.
We think the presence of all federal state leaders could add to the credibility of any agreement that comes out of Villa Somalia. If President Farmaajo were honest, he would have no problems allowing the other three to be present. There are advantages for all regional leaders to attend this meeting.
First, the initial meeting in Galmudug, which resulted in the Agreement on elections last month may have received an endorsement from some opposition political parties, but it still risked dividing the country into two halves: those for and those against. Somalia shouldn’t be doing things this way.
Secondly, the presence of the other federal state leaders could provide input to the decision the President reaches with Jubaland and Puntland. There is no reason why an agreement with the two states should not be amenable to the other three. In short, the presence of all these leaders can guard against inclusion or issues that could cause disharmony in the future.
Third, the three federal state leaders can actually help update the Dhusamareb III to accommodate Puntland and Jubaland. We fear that their absence could allow Villa Somalia to divide and rule, something that could foment more disunity.
It is true that Jubaland and Puntland had rebelled against the meeting in Galmudug because they feared the environment preceding the meeting was not conducive. A Prime Minister had been fired yet he had been tasked with overseeing a joint committee.
By the third the Dhusamareb III arrived, a new Prime Minister had not been appointed. That office is still being held in an acting capacity. And while Farmaajo retains powers to appoint a Prime Minister, he has not done so to date.
This has created suspicions that the Villa Somalia meeting would precede his appointment, which in turn will make the new PM lame-duck in implementing an electoral calendar. These suspicions could be true or false. But the President can help the matter by explaining to all federal states why there have been delays in appointing a new PM.
Madobe and Deni, by attending the meeting, have shown their intention to be statesmen rather than spoilers. But real honesty in Villa Somalia could be the most important thing to help the meeting.