UN, opposition candidates reject Somalia leaders’ electoral changes

Somalia’s federal and state leaders faced political backlash after the international community and a group of opposition candidates rejected the leaders’ decisions making electoral changes.

After two weeks of meetings, the National Leaders Forum (NLF) issued a Dec. 25 communiqué making electoral changes, including expanding the Upper House of federal parliament from 54 to 72 senators, in an “unconstitutional” move.

However, the international community issued a Dec. 27 statement, saying that the NLF communiqué fails “to address a number of other egregious cases of abuse of the electoral process”. Continuing, the statement noted that the NLF’s decision “to revoke all disqualifications of candidates made by the country’s electoral bodies for allegedly committing abuses and malpractices represents a blanket amnesty for some of the most blatant irregularities”.

The international community’s statement opposed the NLF’s decision to expand the Upper House, saying: “International partners wish to see the electoral process go forward with the existing 54 seats in the Upper House as stipulated under Somalia’s Provisional Constitution. Any further expansion of the Upper House should only be contemplated after the presidential vote has been held in the new federal parliament and implemented through a proper constitutional process.”

Opposition candidates’ warning

Six opposition presidential candidates issued a joint statement criticizing the NLF’s decision: “While this is gross violation of the constitution, it’s also politically inconceivable to undertake in midst of electoral process that is already shrouded in corruption, manipulation and secrecy”.

The candidates warned against a “new political crisis” and called on the UN Security Council to “immediately intervene” and ensure that Somalia does not “relapse into anarchy”.

The two statements from the international community and some of the opposition candidates highlight the continued challenges Somalia faces as it prepares for the much-delayed presidential election.

Swearing-in ceremonies for members of the two houses of Federal Parliament began in Mogadishu, and political insiders say that the Federal Parliament is expected to weaken the NLF’s authority and to set the presidential election date.

Source: Somali Review