Somalia: Puntland and Jubaland reject Dhusamareb deal amid US pressure
GAROWE, Somalia - The leadership of Somalia's federal states of Puntland and Jubaland have wholesomely rejected the recent political deal that was signed in Dhusamareb, the regional administration capital of Galmadug, insisting that "nobody had consent to represent us" in what could yet again shape Somalia's politics.
For one week, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo held a dialogue with three regional leaders and the Mogadishu Mayor Omar Filish who also doubles as the governor of Banadir, before reaching a historic agreement that would pave way for Somalia's much-anticipated elections.
Those present were Mohamed Abdi Waare of HirShabelle, Abdiaziz Lafta-Gareen of Southwest, and Ahmed Abdi Kariye of Galmadug. Apparently, the three are believed to have been aided by the federal government when they were seeking to be elected and at some point, chaos rocked their respective regions.
But the absence of Ahmed Islam Mohamed Madobe of Jubaland and his Puntland counterpart Said Abdullahi Deni has sparked fresh controversy, something which could hamper implementation of the Dhusamareb III deal, which was signed by their three colleagues and Mogadishu Mayor Omar Filish.
In a joint statement issued on Friday, Puntland and Jubaland said "we reject the outcome in totality" while citing several setbacks, including but not limited to the absence of a guarantor. The agreement, they added, "cannot hold water since it did not factor input from important stakeholders in our country".
"Nobody was to represent any of us in the meeting. We had issues that the Federal Government was not ready to solve. The agreement is null and void," read the statement, adding that: "We, however, thank the international community for always standing with the people of Somalia."
The statement came just hours after the United States, one of the major development partners of Somalia, regretted the absence of the two leaders from Dhusamareb, in a tough statement that has since raised questions about Washington's commitment to promoting democratic processes in Somalia.
US embassy, officials argued, had worked for "inclusion" of all views at the table in Dhusamareb III but "cannot help those absent". "Spoilers withholding participation sacrifice democracy for own ambitions. Parties will need to move forward with a timely model agreed," added the statement.
Farmajo had initially maintained that that agreement would be taken to the Lower House, which had previously been sucked into the current impasse, for ratification. He addressed the House of People before traveling to Dhusamareb for the critical conference.
In a statement on Friday, he insisted that: "We are disappointed with your absence but we still believe that you'll join us and share your wisdom and contributions. We request you to be part of a historic moment which is significant for Somalia's future."
The team agreed on the new electoral model which was dubbed as Electoral Constituency Caucuses. Each caucus will be consisting of 301 delegates who will vote for a seat in parliament. An agreement needs the endorsement of the Lower House of Parliament as earlier indicated by Farmajo.
Farmajo had given up on a one-person-one-vote model which had triggered divisions but succeeded to have the agreement endorsed by parliament, and the current electoral commission will manage the election with support from regional governments and civil society, experts argue.
The regional leaders who entered this agreement effectively achieved indirect election. They have also got concession in having the regional parliaments select the Upper House MPs and they have also an article in the agreement which says election should take place on time, analysts noted.
“We have reached an electoral agreement with the leadership of FMS and BRA which we hope will pave the way for free, fair, multi-party, and timely elections. We extend a brotherly hand to those who are yet to join us," Farmajo added in a statement.
While the agreement has been endorsed by the US and other international actors, the disgruntlement from Puntland and Jubaland along with dissatisfaction from the opposition leaders could further derail the process. The current administration's tenure will expire in November.