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Somalia's Int'l partners push for timely elections amid electoral law dispute

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

MOGADISHU, Somalia - The federal government of Somalia ought to hold elections in time, international partners have said, even with contentious issues surrounding the recently enacted electoral law.

Both the executive and parliament's terms are set to expire in October this year, a move that has precipitated early preparations for smooth elections.

Last week, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo assented to the electoral bill, which among others, gives a guideline on electoral conduct and the model to be used.

This law, international partners said, "is part of the essential electoral legislative framework required so one-person-one-vote national elections" that allow as many citizens as possible to vote can take place on time.

Although public participation was done, a number of opposition leaders have raised concerns, some arguing that the law could pave way for an unprecedented extension of the term, given lack of adequate preparations for the model.

But in their statement, the partners acknowledged a number of flaws in the law, among them lack of agreeable procedures in the identification of constituencies.

Also, the law did not clearly indicate the model of selecting 30 percent affirmative action seats in parliament, which are exclusively reserved for women and other marginalized groups.

The representation of Somaliland, a secessionist region in the north and allocation of seats to the Banadir region are yet to be determined, further throwing stakeholders into limbo.

However, the partners have asked the federal parliament to expedite the process in collaboration with other stakeholders to end the impasse.

"The partners call on the Federal Parliament, in collaboration with the NIEC, and in consultation with the FGS, the Federal Member States and other stakeholders, to resolve these urgently," read the statement.

Somalia has been using the clan-based system to pick leaders but the model has been termed as a "recipe for chaos" by the international partners, who are keen to fund the winner-takes-all model.

Also, the country is yet to adopt the Political Parties Law, which is critical for the electioneering process, a situation which was also observed by the partners.

They said: "We, therefore, emphasize the importance of prioritizing consideration and adoption of the amendments to this law by the Federal Parliament."

With a standoff between FGS and federal states also causing anxiety, the international partners said "there is an urgency for cooperation between the two parties" in order to achieve elections this year.

Abdirahman Abdishakur, the leader of the Wadajir party, sensationally claimed that "Farmajo is in talks with parliament speakers to extend their term for two years".

While Farmajo has insisted that he's ready for elections, article 53 of the newly passed law was also opposed by critics, who claimed that it paves way for an illegal extension of term for the president.

In the case of calamities such as drought, diseases, and conflict, the elections can be put on hold, the law states, a move that engineered resistance from among opposition leaders.