Somalia: President makes ‘hard decision’ on 2016 election

On May 22nd, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud issued an executive decree endorsing the April 12th election model agreement signed in Mogadishu by Somalia’s federal and regional leaders. The April 12th agreement sets the path for indirect elections for both houses of federal parliament in August 2016, followed by an election for president in September.

“After seeing that the parliament can’t decide, after seeing that the time is running out, I issued a presidential decree to legalize the electoral model,” President Hassan said, according to the VOA.

At a Mogadishu press conference, the Somali president noted that the “hard decision” was made in the “best national interest of Somalia”. While the international community has welcomed the move, a number of federal MPs have spoken out against the president’s decision to bypass the outgoing federal parliament.

International support for 2016 election

In a joint statement – the United Nations, the African Union (AU), the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the European Union (EU), Ethiopia, Italy, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States – said they “welcome and fully support” the Somali president’s decision, but admitted that the international community “had preferred a different scenario for the endorsement of the [election] model”.

“The President and his government have acted to preserve timelines that will allow technical preparation and implementation of the electoral process, which were at serious risk. The challenge now is to prepare and implement the elections. We call on all Somali stakeholders to now work constructively to that end,” the statement added.

The international community is heavily involved in Somalia’s political affairs. International donors including Western nations fund the 22,000-strong African Union force (AMISOM), provide humanitarian aid and budget support to federal parliament and government troops.

A U.N. Security Council delegation briefly visited Mogadishu on May 19th, whereby they reportedly urged the Somali leaders to approve the election process “as soon as possible”, according to Reuters.

Opposition in federal parliament

Hassan Moallim, a federal MP from Mogadishu, tweeted that President Hassan’s decision was “unconstitutional”. His tweet was later deleted, but MP Abdullahi Godah Barre of Hiran region echoed the sentiment. He told the VOA that the president’s move was “unconstitutional and interferes with the power of the parliament”.

Federal MPs have been debating the election deal signed by the leaders of the federal government and four regional states, since Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmake submitted the agreement to parliament for endorsement.

With the clock ticking and pressure mounting, President Hassan was forced to act. The President’s decision attempted to ally concerns about Upper House seats for Banadir region, including Mogadishu, by adding a clause to the executive decree that the status of Upper House seats for Banadir region “shall be addressed at the next meeting of National Leaders Forum” consisting of federal and state leaders.

Source: Somali Review