UN Security Council Statement on Somalia and what it means

SUMMARY

Following the controversial communique released by the African Union’s Peace and Security Council (AUPSC), the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) released a statement on the Somali election deadlock.

The UNSC emphasised that the on-going “disagreement” over the electoral model is “not only undoing” the hard-earned progress made in Somalia but also diverting attention from major issues currently facing Somalia including the COVID-19 pandemic, desert locusts and the continues threat from the terrorist group Al-Shabaab.

The UNSC underlined that reaching a consensus on the elections “would support and facilitate” the continued development and progress of Somalia and its people.

Additionally, the members further highlighted that the 17th September agreement currently “remained” the only basis “so far” endorsed by the Federal Government of Somalia and all Federal Member States.

Finally, the group rejected violence of any kind and requested for a resuming of dialogue as “a matter of urgency” and “without preconditions” while elucidating that they will continue support “regional efforts” led by the United Nations Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), the African Union (AU) and IGAD.

WHAT TO CONCLUDE

The UNSC statement seems a lot less bold and controversial in comparison to that made by the AUPSC communique which unequivocally supported the 17th September agreement while stating that “Somalia is unable to implement a one-person, one vote universal suffrage in 2020/2021“.

What is interesting about this statement is the emphasise on 17th September agreement as “currently” being the only agreed upon on election model “so far” which indicates that the UNSC would be hypothetically willing to support another electoral model which commanded the support of Somali leaders.

This comes at a time when the UNSC failed to reach a consensus on whether to condemn the vote at Golaha Shacabka on April 12th which resulted in the decision being delegated to the AUPSC. Both China and Russia remained firmly against such a decision which was put-forward by the United Kingdom.

Russia, China and Turkey remain important allies of Somalia, particularly at the United Nations which seems to worry the US and its allies.

IS ‘ONE PERSON ONE VOTE’ STILL POSSIBLE?

Technically, yes. It is probably unlikely that the UNSC would introduce sanctions against Somalia for implementing ‘One Person One Vote’ model (OPOV) due to Russia and China which remain vigorously against such a policy.

Additionally, the UNSC statement seems to be open to a OPOV model as long as there is a consensus among Somali leaders as there was with 17th September agreement last year. Whether leaders will agree to such a model is yet to be seen as there remains strong resistance from Puntland leader, Said Deni.

The Federal electoral committee calculated that a direct election could be prepared within 13 months which is within the legal timeframe set by the Lower House last week.

With various political meetings happening in Mogadishu including the forum on the Political Parties for OPOV today, there is an indication of a brewing demand among Somalis that a OPOV model is the only way out of this deadlock.

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