The address by the President earlier this week at the Lower House of Parliament has touched many Somalis. President Farmaajo spoke about the recent political stalemate and violence, condemning opposition leaders orchestrating and fuelling the clashes witnessed in recent weeks. However, we also saw the emotional side of Farmaajo, in which he spoke about his “personal love” for Mogadishu, a city he grow up in and attend “Koranic, Junior and Senior school“. The President reiterated that Mogadishu is the capital for “every Somali” and will work for it to be “an attractive, developed and metropolitan economic hub“.
However, the underlining and most significant element of his speech was the transfer of leadership and security of the elections over to Prime Minister Rooble. This comes at a time when clashes in the capital orchestrated by opposition and clan militia leaders have resulted in deaths and damage to public property due to their heavy opposition to the term extension of Federal institutions to hold a ‘One Person One Vote’ system.
This was further underpinned by mounting pressure from Western donors after the EU cut financial support to the Federal government with the United States threatening sanctions if Somalia did not resort to an indirect election under the agreed upon on 17th September model.
While tensions in the capital have cooled down since the reversal of the Federal government and supporting Federal member states on the issue of the elections, clan militia and opposition-backing former-SNA soldiers refuse to leave the capital, claiming President Farmaajo must “fully transfers power” despite the President’s speech.
The Prime Minister’s Speech
Prime Minister Rooble firstly thanked President Farmaajo for “once again making a major concession” in the interest of the Somali people & for entrusting his government with the leadership and security of the Federal Elections as well as the implementation of National Security Plan.
The Prime Minister has also commend the Honourable Members of the House of People for “acting responsibly” in accepting the president’s request to revert to the September 17 agreement that guides Federal Electoral process, as they considered to overcome challenges the country is going through.
He highlighted that his administration will immediately begin the tasks ahead of the elections as outlined while reiterating to the Somali people, Federal member state leaders and opposition figures that his government will deliver a “free, open and transparent elections”.
Simultaneously, he called for all sides to work together with his government for the sake of peace. Rooble elucidated that there cannot be pro or anti-government soldiers as their sole role is to protect the nation and should return their barracks. Similarly, he called for all opposition leaders to refrain from using inflammatory language to instigate more violence in the capital.
Finally, the Prime Minister has outlined his plan to appoint an 11-member committee led by the Interior Security Minister to resolve recent incidents in Mogadishu.
National Consultative Assembly
On May 2nd, the Prime Minister officially invited the leaders of all Federal member states and the Governor of Banaadir to attend a National Consultative Assembly to finalise the 17th September Agreement between the Federal government (FGS) and Federal member states (FMS) for the country to head to elections.
This invitation was warmly welcomed by leaders of FMS including South West state, Galmudug, Hirshabelle and the Banaadir Regional Administration.
Despite Jubaland information minister, Abdi Hussein Sheikh Mohamed outlining a set of conditions before the attendance of Madobe including “full transfer of security” by President Farmaajo to Prime Minister Rooble, the Vice President of Jubaland, Mohamud Siyad Adan confirmed to BBC Somali this week that the Jubaland leader will be attending the National Consultative Assembly.
While there is an appetite for an immediate meeting to finalise the agreement, Government spokesperson Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu highlighted the last days of Ramadan coupled with subsequent Eid celebration meant that leaders agreed to postpone the talks.
Puntland is yet to give a response to calls by the PM. However, Puntland State House press release on April 22nd reiterated that leader, Said Deni will not attend talks until the international community leads the talks. This comes at a time when Western donors have called on all FMS leaders to attend the National Consultative Assembly immediately without any conditions.
What to expect next?
With President Farmaajo having made his greatest concessions yet, it is hard to see the President making any further concessions having transferred the leadership and security of elections to the Prime Minister as previously requested by opposition leaders and Presidents of Puntland and Jubaland.
Despite the conditions outlined by Deni, Western donors of Somalia including the EU and the USA have highlighted that they support the call by the PM for an immediate meeting of leaders with the finalisation of the 17th September Agreement to allow Somalia to head to indirect elections without any conditions. This is further emphasised by the CPC which have welcomed the PM call and support the election model.
Therefore, it will be very difficult for Puntland to continue to postpone the election at a time where all Somali leaders and international backers are firmly in line with the PM. This could explain the silence coming from Garowe to the call made by the PM earlier this week.
The clan militia and former-SNA soldiers stationed in the capital remain a major obstacle to election security. Their refusal to leave is becoming a problem to the PM Rooble’s leadership. In response, he has setup an 11-member committee led by the Security Minister, however nothing seems to have changed on the ground thus far.
Western leaders including the EU ambassador to Somalia, Nicolás Berlanga have condemned the militia groups in the capital and has called for a complete removal of such forces.
Despite the current predicament, those talks seem like a positive move to the elections. The militia need to be dealt with by the PM immediately if he wishes to fulfil his promises in his speech.