Somalia: PM asks cabinet to prepare for elections amid claims of plans to extend term
MOGADISHU, Somalia - The government of Somalia may after all not extend its term contrary to claims by sections of the opposition leaders, details have emerged, following the recent cabinet speech by Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire, who expressed commitment in holding elections.
Federal Government's mandate is set to expire in October this year, with elections tentatively scheduled for December, but the official timetable is yet to be unveiled by the National Independent Electoral Commission [NIEC], which is mandated to hold the polls.
In his speech which was also posted on his Twitter handle, Khaire asked cabinet ministers to prepare for the polls, arguing that there is no room to postpone them. FGS, he said, was given legitimacy through the polls, thus need to ensure that the current team honors the election calendar.
According to him, holding of elections in Somalia is more critical than anything else, adding that NIEC and the government are determined to ensure all necessary preparations are done to avoid instances of delay.
"To hold elections is more critical than any other duty. People look forward to having elections every other four years. Therefore, the federal government and NIEC are preparing to have these polls," said the Somali PM.
The elections, he added, must be all-inclusive and should be anchored on promoting peace and stability in a country that has fought inter-clan conflicts and Al-Shabaab menace for decades now.
"As leaders of this country and as those who sit in the council of ministers, I want you to bear in mind that the main duty is to take this country to a stable and inclusive election for the purpose of stability," he added.
His sentiments coincide with those of Abukar Dahir Osman, the Somalia ambassador to the United Nations, who recently insisted that the government is determined to hold one-person-one-vote elections in December.
During his address to the UN Security Council last week, the envoy rubbished claims that Mogadishu was keen to delay the much-anticipated exercise, adding that "African Union forces should stop meddling in Somalia's internal affairs".
And Khaire, who has been steering committees mandated to handle emergencies, told the cabinet that all stakeholders should agree soonest on the model to be used, adding that "we cannot afford to take chances".
His sentiments were backed by Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsame, the leader of the Wadajir party, which is Somalia's main opposition, who insisted that the election must be held without the required schedule to avoid possible conflicts.
“I welcome PM Khaire’s commitment that the elections will be held on schedule, [that] the electoral process will be peaceful and inclusive of all political stakeholders, [and] that the election is more important than anything else for the security and stability of the nation,” he tweeted.
The Wadajir leader has been critical of the government's approach to the elections, often raising claims that there is a scheme to extend the current administration's term, a move which he previously termed as "suicidal".
NIEC and the parliamentary ad-hoc committee on elections are set to issue a report on June 27 which will among others, proposal the electoral calendar, model of elections, determination of constituencies, women quota, and representatives for both Somaliland and Banadir regions in parliament.
The model of elections has been particularly controversial, with opposition leaders ruling out universal suffrage polls, arguing that the remaining period cannot help achieve the proposal. Most of them want the current clan-based model maintained before the adoption of universal suffrage in future elections.