Somalia: Deadlock over Upper House threatens electoral process

Somalia

MOGADISHU, Somalia-Differences over the distribution of seats in the Upper House of Parliament have left crucial election talks in Mogadishu deadlocked, Garowe Online has learned.

On Thursday, Somali political leaders gathered for the talks closely followed by the baffled international community members.

Federal leadership and the Presidents of Federal Member States and Interim Administrations are seeking to conclude an inclusive roadmap for the upcoming Presidential election scheduled for October 30. 

Presidency sources tell GO that Somali leaders failed to agree on the composition of Upper House after National Leadership Forum (NLF) granted Puntland and Somaliland an additional three seats each. 

Interim Galmudug Administration President has firmly opposed the seats distribution, and wooed South West President and Federal government officials, added the insider.

“The bone of contention is that some regional states want the seats of Upper House distributed evenly or that additional seats allocated for Puntland and Somaliland in the Upper House be withdrawn,” the source said under customary condition of anonymity.

According to the Provisional Federal Constitution (PFC), 54 members compose the Upper House of Federal Parliament. In 2012, Somalia failed to honor its pledge to form the Upper House. However, National Leadership Forum (NLF) crafted a framework for the 54-seat chamber after Puntland backed down from its opposition to any electoral process ushering in 4.5 power sharing formula earlier this year. 

Somali leaders have made several changes to the blueprint endorsed by international community, with more seats being allotted for Puntland and Somaliland. 

The move drew protest from Galmudug President Abdikarin Hussein Guled. 

Furthermore, credible sources disclose that some leaders might be easing their position on the Upper House for equal distribution of seats amidst constitutional stalemate over whether newly formed interim administrations met criterion to be a federal member state. 

  --‘Somaliland uneasiness’ 

Another moot point has emerged among Somali leaders over Somaliland role in the Upper House. Clan elders called for the return of three members axed in Mogadishu talks on August 9.

Somaliland threatened, it will withdraw support for the electoral process should politicians ignore their demands that could see Sool and Sanaag regions cede three seats in the Upper House. 

Meanwhile, Interim Galmudug Administration (IGA) has been remaining opposed to any concessions to Puntland since August communique for 

--‘Crunch’ 

Ongoing political talks are seen critical for the 2016 Presidential election already marred by disputes regarding extension by the President whose term comes to an end on September 10 today. Another difference--that fueled skepticism on how Somalia can hold elections on the timetable-- remains on Banadir representation in the Upper House. 

Since the Upper House seats are based on representation of regional administration, Banadir politicians and clan elders have demanded their quota in yet another twist adding to election woes.Such a demand contradicts federal constitution which stipulates “Special Status” for the capital. 

Analysts warn, the lingering differences over Upper House formation in the National Leadership Forum may nosedive to crisis in the country’s electoral process

GAROWEONLINE 

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