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Farmajo meets "friendly" FMS leaders in Villa Somalia at night

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

MOGADISHU, Somalia - With just two weeks before the 2nd phase of talks between the Federal Government of Somalia and member states leadership in Dhusamareb, President Farmajo held a closed-door meeting with three regional leaders in Villa Somalia on Sunday night, a move which could define the future of Somali politics.

Both FMS and FGS leadership will convene at Dhusamareb on August 15 where they are supposed to among others, agree on the date and model for upcoming elections in Somalia. A technical committee will be tabling recommendations for debate during the meeting.

Already, several international partners of Somalia among the United Nations, the United States and the European Union have called for consensus between the two rival groups, arguing that all stakeholders must agree on the model. The partners had initially backed one-person-one-vote elections, which FMS and opposition leadership has vehemently opposed.

At Villa Somalia, insiders told Garowe Online, Farmajo held a meeting with Mohamed Abdi Waare of HirShabelle, Lafta-Gareen of Southwest, and Ahmed Kariye alias QoorQoor, the Galmadug leader, who is the host of FGS and FMS talks. The meeting was also attended by spy chief Fahad Yasin, a controversial figure in Somalia's domestic politics.

The three leaders have been enjoying support from Villa Somalia, which is believed to have influenced their victories. For instance, Lafta-Gareen victory was contested in 2018 when Somali National Army [SNA] and Ethiopian non-AMISOM troops descended on supporters of Mukhtaar Robow, his opponent in the elections.

Robow, a former Al-Shabaab deputy leader, was arrested and taken to Mogadishu during the skirmishes which left at least 12 people dead in Baidoa, the regional administrative capital of Southwest. Lafta-Gareen would be announced the winner of the December 2018 controversial polls before approval by Villa Somalia.

Early this year, QoorQoor was also installed as Galmadug president in an election which was also full of drama. Four of his opponents withdrew from the race citing external interference, a claim which was dismissed by Villa Somalia. However, he's since reconciled with his opponents.

Although details about the meeting remain scanty, the three are close supporters of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, who is facing a re-election puzzle. Curiously, two regional leaders; Ahmed Islam Mohamed Madobe of Jubaland and Said Abdullahi Deni of Puntland, who are perceived to be critical of Farmajo, did not attend the meeting.

A fortnight ago, Madobe met Farmajo for the first time during the Galmadug conference where they agreed to solve their differences. At Kismayo, the Jubaland leader told reporters that "in the next few days, we shall fix these issues, and all will be well before the next meeting".

The meeting came days after parliament kicked out Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire, after accusing him of derailing universal suffrage polls, in a move that has caused wide rifts in government. For instance, Mohamed Abukat Islow, the acting Interior Minister who is also a close ally of Khaire, told Farmajo to ensure timely elections are held.

Speaking at a three-day gathering at his constituency over the weekend, Islo said that "we don't have an excuse, we must deliver timely elections". Farmajo is said to be favoring universal suffrage elections, which the Independent Electoral Commission said that will only be viable next year in March, long after the expiry of the tenure of the current administration.

But during the Dhusamareb conference, Farmajo dismissed claims that he's plotting for a term extension, adding that he had not settled for any particular electoral model. His duty, he added, is to ensure a good legacy for the people of Somalia, who are yearning for peace and stability.

"I've never tried to influence the Election Model or communicate with any Electoral official. I fulfilled my constitutional mandate when I received the passed bill. I have never had any preferred model. All I want is to leave a legacy of democracy and Stability," he added.

At Dhusamareb, the Somali leaders are expected to solve the impasse amid pressure from the international partners. Farmajo is also expected to nominate a Prime Minister for vetting in parliament with sources saying that he might opt for a career diplomat instead of a politician.


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