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Int'l partners say election deal in Somalia falls short of 1P1V goal

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

MOGADISHU, Somalia - Somalia's hope for timely elections suffered a major setback on Monday after the international partners said the recently signed deal has fallen short of the Horn of Africa country's direct voting goal.

The agreement inked in Mogadishu on September 17 in Mogadishu following 4-day talks saw the federal government and member states end a possible pre-election crisis, which had engulfed the country's internal politics.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, five regional leaders signed the deal last week, in what was termed as a "historic" moment for the Horn of Africa nation. The deal has presumably ended the impasse and had wide backing from opposition leaders, who have been calling for timely elections.

But the progress may after all have little effect after a group of international partners rejected it, further causing confusion ahead of the much-anticipated polls. Even after the deal was reached, the partners had remained silent, raising eyebrows among pundits, who questioned their commitment.

While acknowledging the meeting between the two factions, the team, however, insisted that additional stakeholders may be consulted. The statement, which comes as a shock, was announced by the United Nations Mission Assistance in Somalia.

The deal, they observed, fell short of the requisites for a free, fair, and transparent election, adding that the MPs should be voted in a direct electoral process. The partners had been pushing for a one-person-one-vote model, which they argue that it's "inclusive and democratic" as compared to the clan-based system.

"They acknowledge that this agreement resulted from a Somali-led and Somali-owned dialogue among FGS and FMS leaders, and understand that some details of the agreed process are still to be clarified and additional stakeholders may be consulted," read the statement.

"The partners observe with regret that the announced model falls short of the longstanding Somali goal of direct voting for members of parliament in this electoral cycle. The partners urge that the 2020/21 electoral process be free, fair, transparent, and inclusive."

Inside the deal, the stakeholders agreed to implement a Constituency Caucus model, which would see 101 delegates from each constituency electing an MP, who would later take part in presidential polls. Elders are to pick stakeholders for the elections, the deal noted.

Also, the team had agreed that elections to be held from November to February 2021 and that senators would be picked in the regional assemblies. Further, it was also agreed that representatives for Somaliland, the northern breakaway region, would be picked in Mogadishu.

But it's the role of the National Independent Electoral Commission [NIEC] that could have informed the backlash from the international community since the agreement doesn't define its role. The team proposed that a national electoral commission is formed which will work with regional electoral agencies in the supervision of elections, further knocking out NIEC.

The team, however, lauded efforts to transform various independent institutions in Somalia among them, the Judicial Service Commission and the Human Rights Commission. They asked stakeholders to continue meeting regularly in a bid to unlock the impasse.

"Looking to the future, international partners encourage rapid progress to establish other Somali democratic institutions, including the judicial services commission and the human rights commission, along with efforts to advance the review of the Provisional Federal Constitution and ensure respect for international commitments on human rights," added the statement.

"Partners would also welcome a roadmap with clear milestones, agreed among Somali political leaders, to ensure decisive democratic progress going forward," they said. "International partners appeal to the FGS and FMS leaders to continue meeting regularly in a spirit of dialogue and compromise to address urgent national priorities, including security and economic reform as well as inclusive politics."

This technically means that stakeholders will have to start all over again or at least strike another compromise given that the partners are directly responsible for the financing of the entire process. Somalia has often struggled with the economy due to the Al-Shabaab menace and other misfortunes such as inter-clan conflicts and corruption.

Before the deal was signed, NIEC had ruled out one-person-one-vote elections this year, adding that it can only deliver on March 2021. The statement irked opposition leaders who insisted that such a move would lead to unprecedented term extensions for the current administration, whose tenure expires in November 2020.

Noteworthy, the international community had long involved in Somalia since the civil war broke out in the country in 1991, and provided financial support, however it never set conditions and pressure on the Somali leaders who failed their responsibility to finalize the provisional constitution and hold one person, one vote elections scheduled for 2020-21.