Somalia’s true spoilers may have been present at Dhusamareb meeting
EDITORIAL | By Thursday night, August 20 many Somalis had learnt of a model of elections where constituency caucuses will be used, rather than clan delegates, to elect the next parliament.
According to the document publicised last evening President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo and Federal state presidents of Hirshabelle, South West and Galmudug, as well as the Mayor of Mogadishu; agreed that each MP will be elected by 301 delegates, and the MPs will then elect the President.
In short, Somalia has accepted the reality that universal suffrage was a mirage this time. In addition, this deal will only be implementable if the Lower House endorses it.
Yet the deal itself and the way it was crafted left questions on whether it had been prearranged. This platform has never shied away from asking for a timely agreement on the electoral model. In fact, previously, we asked every stakeholder to attend the Dhusamareb meetings.
In the wake of last evening, however, this platform would like to raise important concerns on whether this deal was an external creation. First, the communique declaring the deal was dated a day earlier, August 19. Why was an agreement announced on Thursday dated Wednesday?
Yet by Wednesday, the leaders were still hoping Jubbaland and Puntland would be represented. These two federal states had raised important concerns which were ignored, however. They both claimed Villa Somalia had ignored the previous Dhusamareb agreements and was bulldozing.
A Prime Minister was ousted in Parliament without the agenda being on the order paper and a motion properly tabled on the floor of the House as is tradition. That was illegality they raised. It was illegality ignored.
There was more: Ahead of the announcement, shortly before midnight, the US Embassy in Somalia had branded those absent from the talks as ‘spoilers.
In a tweet, the Mission said “The US Embassy in Somalia has worked for the inclusion of all views at the table in Dhusamareb3, but can’t help those absent.
“Spoilers withholding participation sacrifice democracy for own ambitions. Parties will need to move forward with the timely model agreement.”
Everyone had hoped every stakeholder would attend. But when those who had been part of initial meetings choose to boycott, the wisest thing to do is not brand them, enemies. The best thing would be to listen to them.
On Wednesday, August 19, Somalia's international partners, including the US have released a joint statement in which they emphasized that the participation of all leaders in the Dhusamareb III summit is critical to sustain the consensus-building process and produce a broad-based agreement on modalities for the 2020/21 federal elections that satisfy all Somali stakeholders.
In addition, the partners underlined that any attempt by a single stakeholder, or a few stakeholders, to impose electoral modalities will lack legitimacy and will not be implementable without the essential support from all other stakeholders.
In Dhusamareb III, there was no listening and we are afraid to say, there was bulldozing. The US Embassy may, in fact, have contradicted its country’s position at the UN. Speaking at the UN Security Council earlier on Thursday, acting US Deputy Ambassador to the UN Cherith Norman Chalet said: “Somalia sits between a moment of profound opportunity.” She did add that only Somalis will save their country.
“Elections need to be secure, timely, practical, implementable and built on broad-based consensus in a Somali owned and Somalia-led process.”
Which is why we are asking if an agreement reached by half the team can be implemented by the entire team. This platform does not support mere rebellions and we are on the record to urge stakeholders to choose what is for Somalis.
Yet there is an awful tinge of personal interests written all over Dhusamareb III. First, President Farmaajo surrendered his call for one-person-one-vote. But he secured his political insurance by ensuring the Lower House has a final word.
Garowe Online has learnt that the President knows the MPs will pass date of elections which will allow an extension of his and their term. In return, the President will have ensured that his nomination for the PM is secured.
The Dhusamareb deal is, therefore, a quid-pro-quo, between the President and the MPs in the Lower House. Previously supporting an extension to the term if incumbents, but which was vehemently opposed by the Senate, Political parties and some federal states, Dhusamareb III became the backdoor.
On this account, the US Embassy in Somalia may have to look back again on its description of spoilers. Is it those who attended with a prearranged deal or those who skipped a choreographed affair.
History will always judge fairly those who choose their country over personal interest. We hope the judgement comes sooner in this Somali electoral fiasco.