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Deadlock in Somalia as leaders fail to reach preliminary deal for election dialogue

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

MOGADISHU, Somalia - The Somali citizens might wait for a little longer before formal talks between the Federal Government [FGS] and the Federal Member States [FMS] kickstart after the two sides failed to reach compromise on the protocols that would guide structured conference.

While FMS leaders have been convening at Dhusamareb, the regional administrative capital of Galmadug, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo has been in the town for almost five days now. The Somali leader visited Dhusamareb on Saturday where he joined the FMS leaders and Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire.

Since then, several informal meetings have been held between the two sides including a gathering with the civil society, but multiple sources intimate that the two sides are yet to narrow down their differences over the critical issues that are due for debate.

The leadership, sources say, are at loggerheads over the model that Somalia should use for the upcoming elections, which are due later this year. President Farmaajo is said to be keen on having a universal suffrage election, an idea which has been endorsed by the National Independent Electoral Commission [NIEC] and various international partners.

However, the FMS has on their part insisted on having a compromise model, arguing that the timeline between now and when the mandate of the current regime expires cannot sustain a one-person-one-vote model. The model, they argued, would lead to term extension contrary to constitutional provisions.

And it's the disagreement over the model for elections that have led to delays in starting of formal talks between the two sides, a move that could potentially lead to an electoral crisis. Until now, the two parties are yet to agree on the date or protocols for a structured election.

With the standoff almost engineering a political crisis, international partners are pushing for an agreement, but it also seems not forthcoming. On Tuesday, Turkish ambassador to Somalia Mehmet Yılmaz held a meeting with Senate Speaker Abdi Hashi Abdullahi, who has been a crusader of the talks.

A fortnight ago, Hashi dismissed legislation passed by Lower House, terming them unconstitutional. The Lower House Speaker Mohamed Mursal Abdirahman is said to be under instructions from Farmajo, a move that has further irked the opposition and FMS leadership.

With the country now staring at the worst political crisis in as many years, both parties are racing against time to reach a compromise and possibly save the country. Previously, Somalia has been embracing a clan-based electoral system commonly called 4.5 model.

Abdirashid Hashi, the Director of Heritage Institute of Policy Studies, a Mogadishu-based think thank, seems to blame President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo for the impending crisis, adding that he should appreciate the reality and admit compromises.

"Somali president needs to face this fact that his government failed to usher in one-person-one-vote on time and the Election Commission reported 1P1V cannot happen on time and within the legal mandate," he says, adding: "Thus instead of repeating ‘we want 1P1V’ the president should say: please I need an extension."

Further, the political analyst says Farmajo should alternatively reach an agreement with the FMS leaders and the opposition, and possibly agree on a makeshift electoral model that is agreeable to both parties for the sake of security and stability.

"Another option the President and the assembled Somali politicians in Dhusamareb could consider is an agreed-upon indirect election; HIPSInstitute presented a workable option Expanded Participation Model [EPM] which could be implemented before November 27; Time is of the essence."

But in a rejoinder, Abdinur Mohamed, the Director of Communications in Villa Somalia, said the president is determined to ensure an all-inclusive transition of power which brings together all Somali people and stakeholders.

"President Farmaajo's priority is to register in his legacy, a transition of power that is inclusive, well agreed upon, and in harmony with our history. The Dhusamareb forum is part of this great journey that seeks to satisfy the will and aspirations of our Republic," he noted.