Indirect elections will give Al-Shabaab chance to elect MPs, Villa Somalia warns
MOGADISHU, Somalia - The traditional clan-based electoral model popularly known as 4.5 would pave way for election of Al-Shabaab militants and sympathizers to Parliament, Villa Somalia has warned, in a statement that shows the possibility of a major fallout in impending Dhusamareb Phase III conference, where the country's leadership will discuss the model for upcoming polls.
Last week, President Farmajo had shrugged off claims that he's supporting one-person-one-vote elections despite protest from regional and opposition leaders, who insist that the model would lead to a term extension for the current administration. A technical committee is set to table recommendations for the most appropriate model when the leadership meets in Dhusamareb.
But Villa Somalia insists that the clan-based model would give Al-Shabaab militants a chance to serve in parliament, a move which will significantly derail the country's quest for peace and stability since the team would use the legislative roles to advance its agenda. The clan-based model allows elders to choose MPs.
In BBC Somali Service debate, Villa Somalia spokesman Abdinur Mohamed, emphasized Farmajo's efforts to have a universal suffrage election in Somalia, a move that would allow all citizens to choose their leaders. The model was initially backed by international partners, but they have since called consensus from both parties.
The standoff was further escalated by the Independent Electoral Commission [NIEC], which ruled out holding of timely elections, arguing that the universal suffrage polls would take the country up to March 2021 for adequate preparations.
This, the opposition argues, will enable the current administration to serve beyond the stipulated constitutional provisions.
But Abdinur's claims that 4.5 model would be infiltrated by Al-Shabaab were dismissed by Abdsalam Salwa, a former Permanent Secretary in the Office of the PM, who insisted that the one-person-one-vote model would be an "excuse" to extend the term for the current administration, whose mandate elapses in November 2020.
Further, Salwa told the BBC, the recent dismissal of Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire was a strategy to "disrupt" the upcoming Dhusamareb talks scheduled for August 15. The conference is set to provide a platform for a lasting solution on the electoral model, and Khaire was one of those leaders in FGS critical of term extensions.
However, Abdinur Mohamed insisted that the sacking of PM Khaire would have "no effect" on Dhusamareb talks, adding that the next elections will be held on time. Khaire was replaced by his deputy Mahdi Mohamed Gulaid, who is likely to hand over power to a substantive PM later on this month.
Abdinur said the election must conform to the country's electoral law and the constitution, which have recommended a one-person-one-vote model, which would, however, lead to automatic term extension. A number of shareholders believe compromised security and time constraints would not allow the country to hold one-person-one-vote elections, hence calling for a compromise.
On his part, Salwa said the decision by the Lower House to amend disputed electoral law shows that Villa Somalia wants a "term extension". Parliament had last week accused Khaire of failing to help the country prepare adequately for a universal suffrage election.
"When you look at the proposal of the electoral commission, the dismissal of Khaire, the president’s quick welcome of the PM’s ouster, and the approval of the four clauses of the electoral law, all these show that current leaders are preparing for extension and this is not in the best interest of this country and the circumstances it has gone through," he stressed.
Also, he argued, the claim that Al-Shabaab would get its way to parliament was flimsy and "archaic", adding that the current regime tolerates Al-Shabaab militants. He insisted that should the leadership push for direct elections, the country will plunge into a political crisis that would erode the gains Somalia has made since 2012.
The controversial clauses to the electoral law passed by the Lower House are; representation of the Banadir region in the next Senate, women's quota, seats for northern regions [Somaliland], and the upcoming MPs constituencies.
Farmajo's spokesman, who used harsh language, urged the international community not to exaggerate the ouster of PM Khaire.
“The International Community has left an indelible mark in our rebuilding efforts and the government and the people of the Federal Republic of Somalia hold deep gratitude for that. However, the long-term focus of such efforts should be on strengthening institutions and development organs,” he noted.
Last year, reports emerged that Al-Shabaab had ordered all the elders and delegates who choose the members of the federal legislature and the state councils to register with the group. So far, sources said, 159 elders from Hirshabelle, Galmudug, Jubaland, and Southwest states, have reportedly agreed to register but Puntland has defied the order.
Hassan Mohamoud, a political commentator in Mogadishu, said the elders seem to be caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, since the Al-Shabaab still controls large swathes of rural southern and central Somalia, and have imposed parallel administration in sections of the country.
“For obvious security reasons, they fear to disobey al-Shabaab orders, while on the other they are afraid of a backlash from the government and state security institutions,” Mohamoud told the East African paper.