Throughout this entire political chaos, President Farmaajo has admirably remained quiet, despite continues attacks from opponents including leaders of the regional governments of Puntland and Jubaland as well as Presidential candidates and Parliamentarians.
We have seen many scathing personal attacks from MPs such Mahad Salaad who infamously compared President Farmaajo to the Quranic evil figure ‘Pharaoh‘. We also cannot forget about the wild attacks from the controversial figure Abdirahman Abdishakur during his now infamous press conferences.
The President has been accused of multiple unverified accusations including being a dictator and a tribalist. Leaders of Puntland and Jubaland accused him of being the biggest obstacle to the Somali election.
Finally, President Farmaajo decided to sit down with Shabelle Media Network to refute such claims and discuss important issues facing Somalia today.
Lets take a look at the most important points the President spoke about.
Election Impasse and Afisyooni
Throughout the attempted negotiation period in Muqdisho last month, leaders of Jubaland and Puntland continuously elucidated the narrative that the President did not want an open and fair election. President Farmaajo immediately denied such claims and debunked the entire proposition with a factual timeline of events which showcased a completely different story.
President Farmaajo highlighted that despite the fact that his administration supported a direct form democratic elections, he comprised with leaders Deni and Madobe who remained vigorously against such a model and instead advocated an indirect election similar to that of the 2016 election model framework. He argued that he comprised because he understood the need for an election model which is universally agreed upon in Somalia to ensure political stability. Indeed, this resulted in the 17th September Agreement which the President claimed Deni and Madobe themselves contributed to and signed before it became Law 30 of the Federal Parliament.
The President highlighted that following the signing, Mr Deni and Madobe decided to fly to Abu Dhabi and Nairobi respectively for nearly two months during which he “could not get hold of either“. He underlined that during this period, other Federal member states had sent their Federal committee members as agreed upon under the 17th September Agreement. However, Deni and Madobe did not do so, “wasting vital time” to implement the election model.
Upon their return, Deni and Madobe retracted on their initial agreements with the Federal government and decided to introduce three new conditions which were not a part of the agreed upon legal framework of Law 30; the underpinning legal text for the 17th September Agreement. These were: the question of Somaliland, Somali troops in Gedo and members of the Federal Committee on the elections.
Upon inspection, it is clear that the question of representation for Somaliland is one for the Federal government with Puntland and Jubaland having no legal basis to dictate candidates under the Somali Provisional Constitution. Secondly, the question of Somali troops in Gedo surrounds the security and border issue with Kenya. Madobe’s eerily close ties with Kenya were exposed after the Battle of Beled Xaawo and the eventual surrender of his Security Minister, Janan who revealed his relations with Kenyan officials including training and arming. Finally, the question of Federal committee members again is the legal duty of the Federal government and not of the regional administrations. Yet, President Farmaajo compromised on all propositions apart from Gedo which remained a national security issue following the 15th and 16th Feb Baydhabo implementation agreement.
President Farmaajo points out that, he requested a meeting of the regional governments to politically sign the 17th September Agreement to no avail. By the end of March, the President had called for five meetings including Garowe, Muqdisho and Samareeb which were all rejected by Deni and Madobe. Instead, Deni and Madobe began a game of cat and mouse, first requesting the meeting to be only Mogadishu, then rejecting Villa Somalia and requesting specifically Xalane. Xalane is the headquarters of foreign ambassadors in Somalia. To request the meeting be in the UN headquarters rather than the Somali Presidential palace is an insult to the Somali Presidency as an institution. Despite this, once again the condition was accepted by the President for the greater good of the political stability.
Despite the talks beginning on April 3rd, the meeting began the week prior. All signatories of the 17th September Agreement and Baydhabo understanding attended for four days excluding the leaders of Puntland and Jubaland due to their outright refusal without the international community. The President highlights that the collapse of the talks was due to constant new conditions introduced by Deni and Madobe which were unacceptable. This included the sacking of most military commanders during the attack on Awdheegle which cost a number of SNA lives. Similarly, the President stated that Deni and Madobe wanted the inclusion of the International Community as guarantors of the Somali election which would undermine the sovereignty of Somalia. Finally, he conveyed that the two leaders requested Parliament and all other Federal institutions to cease functions immediately. Something President Farmaajo said he could not accepted.
The President elucidated that from his understanding, Deni and Madobe “did not want an election“. He shed light on private discussions in which both leaders stated that the 17th Agreement “was over” and there was a need for a new agreement. “They did not intend to sign an agreement at all” reiterated the President.
Golaha Shacabka and One Person One Vote
The President firmly stated that the international community “cannot tell us what to do“. He reaffirmed Parliamentary legal supremacy as the legislative body of the Somali state, independent from himself and any other institutions or body as stipulated by the constitution.
The President illuminated that the vote was not an extension for himself but rather a vote for ‘One Person One Vote‘ with the extension being up to two years to plan for the election.
In defence of the vote, Farmaajo highlighted Article 47 of the constitution which underpinned the legal right of Golaha Shacabka as the only chamber to vote and debate elections on a federal level in contrast to the Speaker of the Upper House claims that it was an illegal vote.
President Farmaajo asserted that he supports “an open elections” which the 1P1V model guarantees. When asked on the possibility of the Afisyooni talks to restart, he showed openness suggesting that it could but the 17th September Agreement “is finished” with the 1P1V system the only system up for discussion.
Evidently, Golaha Shacabka voted with an overwhelming majority of 149 MPs for to 3 MPs against. Under Somali Constitutional law, that would automatically nullify Law 30.
What to conclude?
With the Afisyooni talks over, the possibility of a breakthrough in this political deadlock is getting further and further away from the hands of Somali leaders.
Regardless of what conditions or issues remain between the negotiating parties, this political impasse can only be resolved through dialogue and talks between signatories of the agreement.
The International Community, particularly key stakeholders such as the UK and US remain adamant that the only way through this deadlock remains the talks and the 17th September Agreement. It will be interesting to see the response officials in Xalane will give to the Somali government decision to end the talks.
We also have to consider the political arena in Somalia. The ‘Council of Presidential Candidates’ and other opposition groups will react vigorously against the current doom and gloom of the collapsed talks. Having previously requested to partake in the talks, the CPC will most likely condemn the government.
The question becomes: where do we go from here? That answer solely lies in Villa Somalia and the hands of the Farmaajo Administration.