AU, Igad, should push for credible polls to avert civil war in Somalia

Somalia is facing its worst electoral gridlock in history. The term of President Mohamed Abdullahi “Farmajo” is due to expire on February 8, 2021.

In June 2020, Somalia’s National Independent Electoral Commission declared it could not hold the long-awaited direct elections of parliamentarians to elect the president, citing lack of funding and infrastructure.

In the wake of the Dhusamareb Conference in September, President Farmajo and five regional leaders agreed on a revised election procedure based on the 2016 Somali parliamentary election.

Lack of consensus on appointment of electoral committees has put Mogadishu and the opposition at odds. The opposition has accused Farmajo and the National Intelligence (NISA) of packing committees with handpicked ‘youths’ to rig the parliamentary and presidential elections.

Pre-election Somalia signifies the rise of a new crop of tyrants using the outbreak of Covid-19 as a subterfuge to freeze democracy indefinitely.

In 2021, Farmajo is counting on his recent controversial victories in federal states to retain power in Mogadishu. First is Abdiaziz Hassan Mohamed (“Laftagareen”), president of the South West regional State since December 19, 2018, who has close ties to Farmajo’s party, Nabad & Nolol (Peace &Life).

Laftagareen is expected to help Farmajo clinch the state’s 77 seats in parliament. Ahmed Abdi Karie aka “Qoor Qoor”, president of Galmudug since February 2, 2020, a Hawiye (Habar Gidir), is expected to deliver the state’s 37 parliamentary seats to Farmajo. Villa Somalia also expects Ali Abdullahi Hussein, the president of the Hirshabelle since November 12, 2020, to deliver the state’s 38 seats.

Ominously, 90 per cent of Somalis fret that al-Shabaab has infiltrated the federal government and its security agencies.

Farmajo’s election committees are feared to have links to al-Shabaab, which has reportedly been pushing community elders to support pro-government electoral committees.