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Somalia: Farmajo is negotiating with parliament leadership for term extension

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

MOGADISHU, Somalia - Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo is negotiating unlawful 2-year term extension, opposition leader Abdirahman Abdishakur has claimed, adding that the two house speakers are involved in the discussion.

The current term for both the executive and parliament [Lower House and Senate] is set to expire by the end of this year, with the country expected to hold polls to elect a new parliament and president.

Preparations for the elections are not currently on top gear as the opposition and the Federal States have raised doubt, citing a litany of issues ranging from contentious electoral law that was approved by both houses of the parliament and signed by Farmajo into law on Thursday night.  

But in a series of tweets on Thursday, Abdirahman Abdishakur, the leader of Wadajir party, claimed Farmajo has been holding secret talks in a bid to extend his stay in power.

Without tabling proof, Abdishakur said the two speakers of the house are also party to clandestine negotiations, a move that could trigger heated political debate.

He said: "We have learned that the President is negotiating with the Speakers of the two Houses to get a two-year term extension for all".

While noting that the current administration is left with eleven months, Mr. Abdishakur termed the secret plans as "totally unacceptable" to Somali people.

"We will never accept for him or the Houses to stay on power beyond their mandate," Abdishakur said, in his latest jibes against the administration.

Senate approved the contentious electoral bill a fortnight ago, which would be adopted as law once Farmajo assents to it, officials said.

Among others, the bill has been subjected to criticism, with opponents citing article 53 as "draconian" given that it gives authority for term extension.

In the event of calamities such as diseases, war, drought, and other related circumstances, elections can be put on hold, the clause states.

Also, the model for elections is yet to be agreed on, even though the state proposes one-person-one-vote, as opposed to the traditional clan-based system.

But Mr. Abdishakur now says stakeholders should agree on the model within the next eight months regardless of the proposals in the law, failure to which an alternative will be sought for.

"We hope that agreed and implementable model of election should be found in these eight months," he said in a tweet.

"Otherwise, we will be forced to present an alternative electoral process to the Somali people. We pray to God to not put us in such a situation."

Somalia partners and have, however, exuded confidence in the much-anticipated polls, settling on universal suffrage.

The Halima Yarey, the chairwoman of the National Independent Electoral Commission [NIEC]  accused of “misleading” the public over unrealistic promises to hold one person, one vote elections in Somalia this year as her office is located inside the presidential palace for security reasons. 

The Al-Qaeda-linked extremist group Al-Shabaab still controls large parts of the country and is staging deadly car bomb attacks in Mogadishu, targeting government buildings and hotels that host government officials and elite people.

Mohamed Mohamoud Aden, a political analyst, has however warned against term extensions, arguing that the move will set a bad precedent.

He said: "This government is fragile and too feeble isn't carrying for conflict and mistrust after 30 years of the unstable nation." "We built up a new system that people haven't know well. I call him to listen to the people."

December polls will be a litmus test to the current administration, which is also under surveillance from international partners, who have been funding most projects in the war-torn nation.

Farmajo is also battling allegations of imposing his loyalists in various states as a strategy to predetermine December polls in his favor.


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