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Somalia's PM warns against term extension amid Political turmoil in the country

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

MOGADISHU, Somalia - In what could define Somalia's political destiny, Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire has on Thursday ruled any term extension for current government amid a standoff on the electoral model in the Horn of Africa nation.

Speaking during Thursday's cabinet meeting in Mogadishu, Khaire, who has been instrumental in the current government, insisted that elections in Somalia must be held on its schedule within this year, adding that any attempts to derail the elections would lead to further political turmoil.

Khaire said elections should take place within the scheduled time, arguing that the country has been yearning for them and any plan to delay them would lead to "unprecedented anxiety" and possibly contributed to a "political crisis" in which the country is not ready to handle.

The Prime Minister, who was elected alongside President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, said added that a delay of elections would culminate into a constitutional crisis that would plunge the country into chaos and possibly blood she'd.

“Election should take place within the scheduled time, and avoid working on a mindset to an extension because extension could lead to political, security and constitutional crisis,” said Kheire, in a tough statement that could expose his underlying differences with the president.

He added: "Our people elected us four years ago and they are entitled to calling for timely elections. As a government, we must ensure that this is delivered within the stipulated time. This is the beauty of democracy and we have no choice other than adhering to it."

This is the second time Khaire is assuring Somalis that elections should be held within the constitutional timeline to avoid controversy. In May, he told the cabinet to prepare for the elections, arguing that the government should push for early elections.

The current term for parliament and executive ends in October and the country is set to replace the leadership through an election. However, the National Independent Electoral Commission [NIEC] has already cited a few issues that would not make it possible to hold elections.

In a statement to Parliament a fortnight ago, Halima Ismael, the chair of the commission, said her team can only deliver one-person-one-vote election in March next year, adding that for electronic elections, the country would wait for a further five months.

However, a section of opposition and federal states leadership has opposed the move, arguing that the country must ensure constitutional provisions are respected, adding that the universal suffrage model is not attainable within the stipulated time.

According to the team, the country should find a "suitable" model for November polls, adding that the universal suffrage, which is preferred by the international partners, should only be implemented in the next cycle of elections after December.

The federal state's leadership has convened in Dhusamareb, the regional administrative capital of Galmadug, and are expected to discuss among others, the date and model for elections. Also, they will decide on the number of representatives for Banadir and Somaliland regions.

Sadly, the federal government is not a party to the meeting, despite pressure from the international community. Mogadishu had initially agreed to host a dialogue between FGS and FMS, but Sunday's date was postponed indefinitely.

Should the country stick to universal suffrage, it means that the current term for parliament and executive will be extended based on recommendations by NIEC. However, the voice by the PM may cause further confusion, and probably pile pressure on Farmajo and international partners.

Already, Upper House speaker Abdi Hashi Abdullahi has termed the recent approval of bills by Lower House"unconstitutional", adding that the Senate will not recognize such "illegal moves". The Lower House is said to be working closely with Villa Somalia.

Meanwhile, Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo has welcomed today's cabinet statement on timely and peaceful elections in 2020 as "the utmost importance" for strengthing democracy in the country.