The Somali Electoral Consultative Council (ECC), which has been meeting in Mogadishu for the past two days, has today officially released the new election schedule for Somalia, as the previous one was not workable.
The second consecutive day of the conference held at the Afisioni Center was chaired by the Prime Minister of Somalia, Mohamed Hussein Roble, in the presence of five heads of regional administration as well as the governor of Benadir, Omar Mohamed Filish.
Much of this conference, which is a follow-up of the May 27th agreement reached in Mogadishu, focused on accelerating elections and finding solutions to new and old challenges and grievances.
The Upcoming National Elections Timetable
The Electoral Consultative Council said the electoral commissions will be open for training and will elect leaders from June 30 to July 5, 2021.
The Consultative Council announced in the new election timetable that the election of members of the upper house will be held on July 25, 2021.
Also, the schedule states that the selection and preparation of delegates for the election of members of the lower house will be held from 15 July to 10 August 2021, and the election of members of Parliament will be held from August 10 to September 10, 2021.
The swearing-in of members of both houses of parliament and the election of two chairpersons are scheduled for September 20, 2021.
Finally, the Somali Electoral Consultative Council announced that the Somali presidential election will be held on 10 October 2021.
Leaders grievances on dealing with rebel regions
Yesterday’s meeting was overshadowed by some regional leaders grievances and their request for an acceptable way out of their current challenges to carry out the elections within the 60 days timeframe.
In fact, it was reported that some regional leaders wanted the delegation to be reduced to 51 members, instead of the current 101 as previously agreed and ratified on September 2020.
For their part, Ali Gudlawe and Ahmed Madobe, instead wanted the elections to take place only in the towns of Jowhar and Kismayo, as it would be difficult to hold them in Beledweyn (Hiran) and Garbaharey (Gedo), according to an agreement reached on May 27th this year.
The election of the two presidents, Ahmed Madobe of Jubbaland and Ali Gudlawe of HirShabelle, has been surrounded by controversy and segments of their constituents are divided on their legitimacy to be the presidents of their respective regional administrations.
Those embattled leaders stand to lose big in the upcoming national elections as their opponents are concentrated in Garbaharey (Jubbaland) and Beledweyn (HirShabelle).
Political experts said earlier any changes to the elections scheduled in two towns by regional administration would have encountered opposition from sections of the population if the constituencies were reduced to one town and would also be in violation of the September 17 agreement.
It is not surprising then that Prime Minister Roble has rejected these attempts to change key articles of the electoral agreement to convince these disputed leaders that any further amendment to the electoral agreement could lead to a new political crisis.
However, the Prime Minister assured the two regional presidents that he would work with them to find a solution for the elections in Beledweyne and Garbaharey.
Gedo reconciliation process
On Gedo’s side, Prime Minister Roble announced, on the basis of the agreement of May 27, 2021, the appointment of the Gedo Regional Reconciliation Commission, which does not include Jubaland.
Roble called on the committee to act immediately and begin reconciliation in the Gedo region, in consultation with all parties involved in the reconciliation.
In addition, Prime Minister Roble said that the work of the commission will be in line with the third article of the agreement signed in Mogadishu on May 27 by the prime minister, heads of regional administrations and the region of Benadir.
The committee appointed by Roble is made up of four members from the regional administrations of Hirshabelle, South West, Puntland and Galmudug.
The committee was instructed to expedite the reconciliation process in Gedo Region.
Finally, another breakthrough of the meeting today was to address a longstanding grievance. The ECC removed the last hurdle that hurt women representation and accepted to reduce the fee required from Somali women candidates to 50%.
The circumstances surrounding this year’s indirect elections in Somalia make them the most difficult elections since the reestablishment of a functioning government in twenty-one years.
The stakes are high and the risk of relapsing into turmoil is higher if no precautions are taken.