By Spy Uganda Correspondent
Somalia: Political leaders in Somalia agreed on Thursday 27 on a framework for long-delayed national elections in a bid to avert a crisis that could push the fragile Horn of Africa country into political violence.
The agreement signed by Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble and the leaders of five regional states laid out a path to parliamentary elections to begin within 60 days.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, following four days of talks in Mogadishu, Roble said the government is committed to implementing the agreement.
“My government is reassuring to the country’s political stakeholders and to the Somali people that my government will hold free and fair indirect elections in line with this agreement, of course, we are all responsible to ensure women get their 30% quota”, Roble said.
Roble has urged all state leaders to facilitate and implement the election framework.
Speaking on behalf of the international community members present at the ceremony, James Swan the UN special representative for Somalia, praised the deal.
“The United Nations and Somalia’s international partners present here to welcome the agreement, we pay tribute to the Somali- led and Somali-owned process that produced this consensus”, Swan said.
The agreement comes after four days of heated talks in Mogadishu between the prime minister, representing the federal government, and the leaders of five federal member regional states and the administration of Mogadishu. It refurbished the agreement reached by the same leaders in September last year.
Somalia was scheduled to hold elections last year but the polls never happened due to complications, political disputes and continuous security threats by al-Shabab militants.
Talks for holding elections between the federal government and regional leaders began in March but broke down in early April as the two houses of parliament clashed on the status of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed.
Farmajo’s term had expired in February, but the lower house of parliament voted overwhelmingly to extend his term by two years, a move that sparked widespread opposition led by two former presidents and renowned political figures.
Mobilization of clan militias began exposing divisions within Somali security forces and Mogadishu witnessed violent clashes on April 25. The crisis raised fears that militant group al-Shabab could exploit a security vacuum if state forces split along clan lines and turned on each other.
Local and international pressure forced Farmajo to ask the lawmakers to cancel the presidential term extension leading to a consultative national meeting led by the Somali prime minister.
“This agreement has saved the country from easily slipping into deadly chaos,” said the president of Puntland state, Abdullahi Deni, one of the signatories of Thursday’s agreement.
Briefing the UN Security Council on Somalia Wednesday, Swan warned that without a political consensus, Somalia’s political gains would be in danger.
“Without such an agreement and the goodwill and sincerity to implement it, the gains which have been made in recent years may be reversed risking further instability and insecurity, Somalia has come back from the brink of this worst-case scenario.” Swan Said.