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Somalia: Opposition Candidates Demand Dissolution of Electoral Teams

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More than a dozen Somali politicians seeking to unseat President Mohamed Farmaajo have demanded a total overhaul of the electoral committees charged with conducting the planned polls.

The 14 candidates, among them ex-Presidents and former Prime Ministers, issued a declaration on Thursday warning they may be forced to conduct a parallel election unless their demands on the composition of the electoral commissions are addressed.

The aspirants include former presidents Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud plus immediate ex-Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire. Others include a former parliamentary speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, former Finance Minister Hussein Abdi Halane, former Interior Minister Abdikarim Guled.

The have been meeting in Mogadishu for talks.

On Thursday, their 18-point declaration included demands to dismantle the electoral committees formed in October to manage the elections. These include the National Electoral Committee (NEC) and the Electoral Dispute Committee (EDC).

“The committees must be abolished and new committees appointed based on consensus,” the candidates said.

They also raised the controversial issue of who should manage the elections of representatives of Somaliland, the breakaway region of Somalia in the north west. The group sided with the current Speaker of the Senate Abdi Hashi Abdullahi who wants to appoint the committees that will manage the election of legislators to represent Somaliland.

The group also wants the committees the legislators from the Banadiri community in Mogadishu to be managed by individuals chosen by the community instead of being managed by the state.

Currently, there are separate NEC and EDC that were appointed by Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble to manage the Somaliland and Banadiri elections.

Showing some kind of distrust, the candidates proposed, “The election of the 46 Somaliland and 5 Banadiri lawmakers be held at a compound inside the exclusive security zone of Mogadishu’s Aden Abdulle Airport in the presence of the candidates, the international community, Somali Police Force and the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom).”

The presidential hopefuls want the federal government to withdraw forces from Gedo region to enable Jubbaland State manage its own regions. This shows that the difference between the federal government and the Kismayu-based leadership of Jubbaland State remains an issue threatening the election.

The communiqué advised the leaders of the Federal Members States to refrain from holding an election not approved by all stakeholders through consensus.

They also asked for the resignation of the Director of the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) Fahad Haji Yasin Dahir “to achieve neutrality.”

Lastly, the signatories of the communiqué urged the government to desist from holding an election that is not approved by all stakeholders. They threatened to hold a parallel election. “This will avoid having a power vacuum in the country,” stated the communiqué’s last point applying the strongest language.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo and the Five Federal Members States presidents, Said Abdullahi Deni of Puntland, Ahmed Qoor of Galmudug, Mohamed Abdi Ware of Hirshabelle, Laftagareen of South West and Ahmed Madobe of Jubbaland plus the Mayor of Mogadishu agreed on October 1 to an indirect election model, allowing 101 delegates from the clans to elect members of the parliament.

The agreed timeline showed that 54 senators of the Upper House and 275 MPs of the Lower House will be elected before end of 2020. A joint session of the bicameral parliament is scheduled to elect president. Incumbent Farmaajo is running for another term.

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