Will Roble Give In To Opposition Demand To Halt Elections?

Following the hubbub from an opposition group on the conduct of the federal elections and foreign diplomats supporting these latest grievances, Prime Minister Mohamed Roble is seeking support to respond to the opposition demand to halt the elections.

The dozen “potential” presidential candidates, united under the Council of Presidential Candidates (CPC) headquartered at the Jazeera Hotel in Mogadishu, have resisted the conduct of the elections since the September 17, 2020 agreement between the federal government and the regional members states for one reason or another.

They have willfully disqualified themselves however by advocating an indirect election in the hope that some of regional states, namely Puntland and Jubaland, would elect their supporters as members of the upcoming parliament.

Last April, with the support of certain Western countries, in this case the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union, their militiamen stormed the capital and attacked the security forces and residents to force the president and parliament to back down on a law on universal suffrage.

These politicians who say they are opposed to the current administration have repeatedly threatened to reduce the country to ashes if the government does not agree to stop the elections and that they are consulted. They attempted an armed uprising in December 2020, February and April and this time again they threaten some violence and even a parallel state.

Prime Minister Roble associated, after May, with this formless opposition group by offering them the possibility of removing from election commissions people they thought were not impartial. In September, after their support in his failed coup against President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, Roble alienated these allies.

In fact, in September, the Prime Minister, who had been entrusted with the elections since May, following President Farmajo’s retreat in the face of international pressure, embarked on a political adventure which led him to claim presidential powers and entered into open conflict with the president.

Known as a novice political leader with shallow goals, Roble has been meeting with various political stakeholders, including the opposition and regional states leaders, and other sectors of the society to ask for help in running these elections which have dragged on for more than a year and tire the population.

In October, Roble was attacked by enemies and friends alike for his poor performance managing the elections. However, the resumption of elections in November which saw the election of several parliamentarians from Galmudug, Southwest and the northern regions, encouraged the public to once again trust the Prime Minister in his efforts.

This relaunch of the electoral process also frightened the opposition candidates of the Jazeera Hotel who saw the newly elected MPs as a pro-Farmajo tide and the end of their illusions that one of them could win the presidency. It is from this latest development that the regain of their fuss was born, echoed by their foreign supporters.

However, it should be mentioned that the morale of this opposition was already at its lowest and that some of them were contemplating leaving the opposition group. Indeed, the media report that prominent members of the group, such as former President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and former Prime Minister Hassan Khayre, they want elections to be held, however imperfect they may be, and want to avoid endangering the country’s development and security.

Fatigue is the order of the day in the face of their intransigent teammates, such as former president Hassan Sheikh Mahamoud and Abdirahman Abdishakur, who despite their best efforts are unable to influence the results of the elections and still want to prolong the uncertainty around the elections. The infighting between the two sides of this opposition is an open secret and their public statements are less and less unanimous.

There is no doubt that all of the current opposition commotion is going against the development of the country as Somalia is at a pivotal moment in its efforts to regain the sovereignty lost in the past decades. Also, one wonders, why a politician who genuinely wants to be the next Somali president would indulge in clearly seditious activities or would go against the best interests of his nation no matter who is the president?

Where is the Prime Minister in all of this? Mr. Roble has recovered from his earlier coup attempt. The Somali public, on the other hand, still has doubts about his intentions even though he reconciled with the president in October. Many believe that he too wants to extend the political crisis so that he can enrich himself in the meantime and place his friends.

All in all, Parachuted into the top job too soon, Roble should avoid actions that have damaged his reputation so far, such as his tendency to make erratic decisions to satisfy demands from controversial individuals. Any action on his part at this late stage will be scrutinized by the public.

He only has one task to accomplish, a daunting task of course: to finalize the elections. Halting or altering the electoral process at this point would be tantamount to a betrayal of the public trust and would definitely hurt of all those who invested time, money and energy in these elections.

Will the Prime Minister learn from his past deceitful behavior and finally complete the electoral process by taking the bulls by the two horns? Or will he get bogged down again trying to appease disillusioned opponents or corrupt friends who have proven time again their inability to run this country or at least care about its future?

Omar Salad

Omar is an IT specialist based in Mogadishu.