Somalia’s rejection of AU Communique and what it means for elections

African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) communique has come as a shock to many Somalis. From the condemnation by the AUPSC of the vote at Golaha Shacabka and the AU unequivocally outlining that Somalia is “unable to implement” a ‘One-Person One Vote’ (OPOV) model to the request by the AU to have AMISOM soldiers to “monitor troop deployment” of the Somali Armed Forces inside Somalia.

The Somali government remained eerily silent on the matter, leaving many to speculate.

Finally, the Minister of Information Dubbe spoke to media yesterday, setting out the FGS response followed by a statement from his office, outlining in clear writing the FGS position on the recent controversial communique.

Let’s take a look at what was said:

Somali Government’s Response

The Somali government welcomed the High Representative that will be sent by the AU as a Special Envoy for Somalia during the election period. However, that is the only section of the statement that the FGS accepted.

The FGS unequivocally condemned the AUPSC rejection of the vote at Golaha Shacabka. It argued that there is no international or regional organisation that can “condemn a Parliament of a sovereign state“. Instead, the Somali government declared such a policy is “not legal” and it would not accepted the recommendation to return to 17th September Agreement.

Additionally, the FGS considers the request by the AU to have AMISOM soldiers to “monitor troop deployment” of the Somali Armed Forces “incorrect“. The government highlights that such a policy would go against the AMISOM mandate in Somalia under UN Security Council Resolution 2568 which clearly reaffirms Somali sovereignty and the role of Somali authorities as having primary responsibility to ensure security in Somalia. The statement also highlighted such a policy would undermine the UNSC approved ‘Somali Transitional Plan‘ which began this month with all AMISOM forces coming under the command of the Somali Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces. Additionally, the government reiterates that such a policy would not only undermine the morale of Somali soldiers but it would boost the morale of Al-Shabaab while simultaneously weakening the heavy pressure being applied on militant factions in Southern Somalia.

Lastly, the FGS has pointed out and specifically criticised Kenya and Djibouti as having played a pivotal role in the AUPSC statement definitively condemning the vote at Golaha Shacabka on April 12th. The government further emphasised that it would not trust or support any process in which a country it currently has negative relations with to participate in the council. This is underpinned by Article 11 of the Protocol of the African Peace and Security Council which states no member state can interfere “in the internal affairs of another“. Evidently, the current ICJ with Kenya regarding Somali waters highlights just that issue.

What does this mean for the Somali Elections?

The elections will still go ahead. It clearly states in Chapter 1, Article 1 sub-section 1 of the Somali Provisional Constitution that Somalia “is sovereign“. This is further underpinned by the fact that Somalia is an active member of African Union and the United Nations which reaffirms Somalia’s sovereignty under international law as ascribed to all member states.

It is important to remember that the communique is not legally binding. Therefore, the government does not need to act upon the recommendations legally.

Additionally, Article 47 clearly defines the House of the People as the sole Federal body to “enact special laws” regarding elections on a Federal level. With Parliament being the highest legislative body in Somalia, it is for the Federal government to implement its legal framework and conduct a ‘One Person One Vote’ election.

With strong and bold message from the FGS and Minister Dubbe, it is clear that Somalia intends to go ahead with the elections regardless of what the international community thinks.

The biggest obstacles to these historic elections remains in Somalia from Puntland and Jubaland leaders as well as some Presidential candidates that remain adamant that the only election that can take place is in an indirect form based on the 17th September Agreement.

How did we get here?

The FGS and Federal Member States talks at Afisyooni collapsed earlier this month following conditions that were put-forward by leaders Deni and Madobe for them to enact the 17th September Agreement which they signed previously. These included the removal of all military leaders and disbanding of Federal institutions which the FGS and leaders of Galmudug, Hirshabelle, Koonfur Galbeed (South West State) and Banaadir Regional Authority firmly rejected. This was followed by a vote at Golaha Shacabka on April 12th which essentially repealed Law 30, removing the 17th September from law and introducing a new law to hold a ‘One Person One Vote’ election with an implementation period of maximum two years. It is important to note that electoral committee’s review found that it could prepare universal suffrage in 13 months.

Additionally, President Farmaajo has made calls last week to sit with Somali political stakeholders including opposition candidates to no avail following his meeting with International partners in Mogadishu last week.

While political tensions remain high in Mogadishu among the political leaders with no solution insight to the deadlock. It is more clear than ever that the fate of Somalia lies with the Somali people.

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