Puntland sets conditions for return to talks as election row escalates
MOGADISHU, Somalia - The much anticipated Dhusamareb III conference may after all not kick-off following the latest withdrawal of Puntland, one of the federal states whose participation was going to be key among key indicators of a fruitful engagement, in yet a move which could raise concerns from among stakeholders.
Already, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo is in Dhusamareb, the regional administrative capital of Galmadug, for the conference which would have otherwise kicked off on Saturday, following increasing pressure from members of the international community.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Puntland accused Farmajo of "undermining" the Dhusamareb agreement, in which the federal government and member states agreed to constitute a technical committee which was to among others, come up with the most suitable electoral model for the upcoming elections.
According to the statement, which would otherwise change the course of political actions in Somalia, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo "used parliament to bring down Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire". The move, the statement adds, is one of the strategies to derail elections since the PM was one of the implementors of the deal.
Further, Puntland said the Dhusamareb dialogue would have made significant meaning should the international community get a guarantor, who would enforce the agreement for the sake of stability in Somalia. The statement technically ends hopes of an early electoral consensus in Somalia.
The Said Abdullahi Deni-led administration insisted that for the conference to make "intended impact", the Federal Government of Somalia should fully participate in the exercise. President Farmaajo, it added, should also consider nominating a Prime Minister before the meeting.
For almost four weeks after the premature sacking of Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire, Somalia has been operating without a substantive government given that acting Prime Minister Mahdi Mohamed Gulaid cannot participate in concrete constitutional matters because the law doesn't allow it.
This means that for the conference to kick-off, Puntland's conditions ought to be made since all stakeholders are important in the dialogue. The Prime Minister, Puntland argued, will help implement the decisions which would be reached out, including but not limited to holding of timely elections in Somalia.
The tough statement comes days after Farmajo, who has been accused of being an impedance to much-awaited changes, insisted that all decisions that would be reached in Dhusamareb, must be subjected to parliamentary approval. The Lower House where Farmajo commands support has been severally accused of undermining the role of the Senate.
In the statement, Puntland also noted that the president has been undermining the role of the Senate, which is also a critical decision-making organ in the Somalia parliament. Should the meeting take place after the conditions are met, Puntland said, any participation of the Lower House will make the decision "null and void".
Also, the mission in action from the talks is Jubaland, one of the federal states which have also been at loggerheads with the Mogadishu administration. Jubaland President Ahmed Islam Mohamed Madobe is on record for dragging the federal government to some of the predicaments the region is facing.
The decision by Puntland and Jubaland to boycott the talks comes just days after it emerged that Farmajo had met regional leaders of Galmadug, HirShabelle, and Southwest who are friendly to his administration, where he lobbied for a term extension. The term of the current administration ends in November this year.
International partners recently called for a consensus between the Federal Government and member states, arguing that any unilateral decision for an electoral model would undermine the spirit of reconciliation in Somalia. The leaders are divided over the most suitable model.
Just moments after Farmajo traveling to Dhusamareb, his communication director, Abdinur Mohamed, said that the administration is keen to push for unity across the country. To critics, Farmajo is one of the most divisive leaders in the history of Somalia, a claim that Abdinur disputes.
"Our commitment to the betterment of our country is overpowering pessimism about our future. All is set for Dhusamareb with focus on sustained political stability and consensus building for prosperous Somalia at heart," he said in a tweet.