Somali President Mohamed Farmajo and three regional leaders have agreed on a new election model for the 2020/21 polls, which is seen as crucial for the country’s stability.
Farmajo, who joined leaders of the regional states of Galmudug, South West State and Hirshabelle, as well as the governor of Banadir in Dhusamareb, the capital of Galmudug agreed on Thursday evening to form Electoral Constituency Caucuses, with each caucus consisting of 301 delegates who will vote for a seat in parliament. The agreement, which was reached at the end of the third round of talks, must be approved by the Lower House of Parliament.
“We have reached an electoral agreement with the leadership of federal member states and the Banadir region, which we hope will pave the way for free, fair, multi-party, and timely elections,” Farmajo said at the end of the six-day meeting. “We extend a brotherly hand to those who are yet to join us.”
Leaders from Jubaland and Puntland states did not attend the meeting, which also agreed that the election will be presided over by the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) and that elections will involve multiple parties.
“The leaders agreed that the INEC in collaboration with the state governments facilitate the formation of an all-inclusive selection committee of elders and civil society from the seat-sharing community,” they said in a joint statement.
The four leaders also resolved to establish at least four constituencies in each regional state where the elections take place and that the elections will be held nationwide on the same day.
The leaders also resolved to hold indirect elections in Somaliland, regional assemblies to elect members of the Upper House. “The leaders of the conference are committed to continuing their efforts to address the concerns of the 2020/21 elections in the two states (Jubaland and Puntland) that are absent from the conference, and we look forward to (them) joining us in any task that remains to be done,” they said.
Both sides met mid-July and agreed to appoint a joint technical committee to provide guidance on the process and model of the election. The committee submitted its report at the meeting, which the leaders later adopted.
The meeting took place amid pressure from the international community which said preserving the recently cultivated trust among the leaders and sustaining the consensus-building process initiated during the last Dhusamareb summit is imperative to keep Somalia on a stable political path. The leaders also agreed with a 30 percent quota for women to be observed. The agreement needs to be approved by parliament.
Analysts see the 2020 universal vote as critical to entrenching the federal system of governance, which is required to appease communities and regions claiming systematic exclusion and marginalization for decades.
The Horn of Africa nation last held one-person, one-vote elections in March 1969 when the government was overthrown in a bloodless military coup. Parliamentary and presidential elections took place in late 2016 and early 2017 through a system of indirect suffrage.