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Four aspirants boycott Galmadug presidential polls, citing interference by Villa Somalia

By Staff Correspondent , Garowe Online

DHUSAMAREB, Somalia - Galmadug state presidential polls have been thrown into limbo after four candidates quit the race citing "interference from Villa Somalia".

Electoral Commission had slated the polls for January 30th, in which 89 lawmakers were scheduled to pick a new president.

Ahmed Dualle, who has been at the realm in Dhusamareb, is set to retire after the completion of his term in compliance with the Constitution.

The state postponed polls in December following a standoff between the federal government and the Sufi group ASWJ which accused the state of "manipulation".

Why they won't participate

Abdi Dheere, Abdirahman Odowaa, Abdullahi Farah Weheliye, and Kamal Dahir Gutale announced their decision to quit the race on Wednesday.

In the statement, the four lead candidates pointed out at divisions in the elections select committee which has been tasked to oversee the polls.

The statement read: "We will not participate in an election organized by one group of the divided elections committee."

Further, the four candidates added that "any election held by some members of the committee and the timetable they have released is unacceptable."

Previous postponement of polls

Dr. Mohamed Nur Ga'al, a former advisor to the office of the Prime Minister, was picked as the speaker of the assembly last week.

Pundits claimed that he was sponsored by the federal government. The elections committee for Presidential polls was subsequently picked.

With the polls slated on January 30th, Wednesday's announcement ushers in endless controversies which are after all synonymous with Somalia's electoral processes.

The international community has been calling for dialogue to curb unprecedented divisions in the regional polls.

Villa Somalia's alleged interference

But the four candidates dragged President Mohamed Farmajo's administration to the predicament, accusing FGS of "hijacking government formation process".

Farmajo has been calling shots in some states, where he's keen to stamp his authority ahead of national polls in December, analysts say.

Parliamentary leadership, the candidates say, has openly expressed bias towards one group of the election committee "instead of uniting them".

Villa Somalia's relationship with federal states has dwindled significantly in the recent past, further exposing the fragile UN-backed Mogadishu administration.

Sometimes back, Farmajo accused federal states of "working with foreign countries secretly with an aim of toppling me".

ASWJ's reservation for the polls

Sufi group Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama'ah (ASWJ) on Wednesday also rejected the presidential polls process, further complicating the situation.

Federal Government, ASWJ claimed, "manipulated the electoral process by imposing MPs with an aim of a hand-picking winner".

After lengthy negotiations, ASWJ was allocated 20 slots in the 89-member parliament, but the group has now outrightly rejected 69 new MPs.

The claims were further backed back overwhelming victory by Speaker Mohamed Ga'al, who managed 54 votes in the first round.

Galmadug now joins Jubaland and Puntland as some of the states which have openly challenged Farmajo's administration.

Outgoing president's outbursts

Even more puzzling, outgoing president Ahmed Dualle, has opted to move to Galkayo, where he's understood to be establishing a parallel administration.

Dualle, who had opposed the polls, claimed that his term was interfered with the following intervention by IGAD. He wants polls to be held in 2021.

The outgoing leader also accused FGS of "trying to run the show in our state with impunity and in total disregard of the law".

He also questioned the distribution of resources to states, arguing that the federal government was keen to muzzle the rights of people.

How the candidates have realigned

What could shock the nation is the decision by Ahmed Abdi to reject the polls. He was viewed as a Villa Somalia candidate.

For Abdirahman Odowaa, he enjoys the backing of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the former president now with Forum for National Parties (FNP).

Kamal Gutale will run on the Wadajir party under former minister Abdirahman Abdishakur and Abdullahi Wehliye was fronted by the ASWJ group.

Interestingly, both candidates hail from the Habargidir clan. Galmadug has a total of 11 clans which are represented by a number of MPs.


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