On Wednesday, 7th of April 2021, the Minister of Information Hon. Cismaan Abuukar Dubbe appeared on Somali National Television (SNTV) and in a dramatic fashion declared that the Afisyooni talks had collapsed. It came as a huge shock to many Somalis hopeful for a possible breakthrough in a political deadlock that did not seem to have an end in sight. Since then, not much has been said regarding the election impasse and what is next for Somalia by Somali leaders.
Yesterday, Somali Cable had an exclusive interview with the President of Galmudug, H.E. Ahmed Kaariye Qoor-Qoor in which the President finally broke his silence surrounding the recent electoral deadlock.
Indeed, Qoor-Qoor has played an important role so far in attempting to mitigate between opposing sides in this political battle. He was part of a delegation alongside the Presidents of Hirshabelle and Koonfur Galbeed to President Deni and Madobe to attempt to defuse the political tension and bring them to the Afisyooni table to no avail. Qoor-Qoor also played an important role as part of Prime Minister Rooble’s team to the Council of Presidential Candidates (CPC) in March which resulted in an agreement for an open investigation into the events of Feb 19th incident. Lastly, there were a total of four meetings held in the capital of Galmudug, Samareeb to find a solution to the electoral impasse which eventually resulted in the 17th September 2020 Agreement. Therefore, one cannot deny the important role that President Qoor-Qoor and the state of Galmudug have played thus far in this political stalemate.
Despite all these efforts, there is yet to be a solution on the election impasse between Somali leaders. Let’s look further into what President Qoor-Qoor had to say about the current situation. We have neatly summarised them into four points:
- “President Farmaajo did not request for there to be a State of Gedo separate from Jubaland at Afisyooni”
In contrast to recent reports made by media outlets, President Farmaajo did not request for there to be an independent state of Gedo as a federal member state or regional government of Somalia according to Qoor-Qoor. Many critics of the President have accused him of attempting to the hijack the election in Gedo and forcefully annex the region from Jubaland. However, when assessing the situation on the ground, it is contrary to say the least. Until recently, the Security Minister of Jubaland Janan was a militia leader harboured by Kenya with over 400 soldiers in Mandheera county ready to attack Somalia. This was followed by the battle of Beled Xaawo in which Janan and his militia supported by Kenya attacked Somali government positions in Gedo but were effectively repulsed by Somali forces. This continuous threat from a militia supported by a foreign country in a fragile border region of Somalia requires Somali troops. Nevertheless, it does not mean Gedo is under an “occupation” as Gedo is part of Somalia. Secondly, under the Somali Provisional Constitution, it is for the Somali Federal government to deal with issues surrounding the national border and immigration.
2. “The question of security is not being discussed“
Despite claims put forward by Presidents of Jubaland and Puntland, the issue surrounding the security of the election is not currently on the table according to Qoor-Qoor. The media frenzy in recent weeks have emphasised the pre-condition of Deni and Madobe that the security of the Afisyooni meeting and the subsequent election should be maintained by foreign soldiers due to the lack of trust they have of the Federal government. Nevertheless, Qoor-Qoor outlines in the interview that security structure was already agreed upon in the 17th September agreement in which the responsibility of security would be divided amongst Federal Member States and the Federal government. This debunks many claims and arguments that foreign troops in the form of AMISOM would provide security to state officials during the Somali Elections 2021.
3. “There is a constitution which outlines powers and terms clearly”
A big rumour bubbling up in the Somali media was the apparent request by Deni and Madobe for the President to sign a document which would effectively remove his constitutional powers as President. Whether you believe that is the correct approach or not, is it constitutional? Qoor-Qoor highlights that it is not constitutional. He suggests that the President has no power to limit his own constitutional duties as much as he has no power to increase them. It is this very issue and that of the constitutional limbo of other Federal institutions that has been a roadblock to continued to discussions. It is very well reported that those in the camp of Deni and Madobe consider the Presidency of Farmaajo and the Federal institutions upholding the administration as illegitimate following the end of their constitutional terms. Nevertheless, such an argument fails to consider Article 136 of the Constitution which stipulates that the Constitution can be amended by the two Houses of Parliament if there is a 2/3 majority. This took place on September 27th, 2020 when Parliament passed Law 30 which provided the possibility of a short-term caretaker Federal government until a new government is elected. Regardless, this constitutional question seems to remain a huge impasse amongst leaders at Afisyooni.
4. “There is no personal issue between me and Said Deni“
In spite of the Somali media conveying a personal rift between Qoor-Qoor and Deni, President Qoor-Qoor has adamantly denied such claims. As some of you are aware, there has been recent reporting that there was a personal problem between Deni and Qoor-Qoor due to a personal attack made by Deni during his now infamous speech in February where he claimed the Presidents’ of Federal member states supporting the Government were powerless to make their own political decisions without Farmaajo. Qoor-Qoor has vigorously denied such claims made by critics. He defended himself, suggesting he was proud to support the central government and intra-Somali cooperation rather than division and infighting. Conversely, he elucidates that he is an independent politician, rather his politics and that of President Farmaajo align on the the betterment of Somalia.
What can we conclude?
Despite laying to rest many rumours circulating regarding the Afisyooni talks and the issue at the crux of the electoral impasse between Somali leaders, Qoor-Qoor refused to point fingers and blame any leader for the current impasse. Rather, President Qoor-Qoor remains hopeful to a breakthrough in this difficult time.
One thing the interview does shed light on is the heart of the issue surrounding the election. It is most definitely NOT the election. Leaders of Deni and Madobe seemed to be fixated on curbing the power of the Presidency and limiting Federal government abilities to govern rather than finding a reasonable plan to escape the current lack of election. It seems as if they are willing to hold the entire country to ransom until their conditions are fulfilled. This also includes the inclusion of the international community as chair and mediator of the election impasse meeting which has been rejected by the Federal government. Now the question arises, where does Somalia go from here? That is for Somali Parliament to decide today. For the Somali people to decide tomorrow.