Somalia: Farmaajo forces a two-year extension amid tension

by GW Reporter

Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo has forced his way to extend his term by two years amid tension in the capital Mogadishu.

Parliament extended its mandate and that of President by two years, giving the incumbents some respite but creating a potential opposition from the international community and some aspirants led by former president Sheikh Ahmed Sharif.

The decision was reached on Monday after an emergency assembly of the Lower House saw some 149 MPs vote to extend their mandate with three voting against and one abstention. The Lower House has 275 MPs.

President Farmaajo welcomed the decision, saying it will correct the incessant disagreements on the electoral model.

The MPs say the two years should provide enough time for the country to be ready for universal suffrage, something it had failed to organise in four years.

“His Excellency, President Mohamed Farmaajo urges the citizens to seize the historic chance to choose their destiny as the House of the People voted to return the elections mandate to the people.

“This followed after the failure of FMS members to support the implementation of the initial Sep 17, 2020 Agreement,” said a statement from Villa Somalia, Farmaajo’s official residence in Mogadishu.

But as Farmaajo celebrated, opposition leaders including former president Sharif said the decision taken by the parliamentarians in the lower house was illegal. He said Farmaajo was elected by both chambers of parliament four years ago but his extension was made by the Lower House whose mandate expired last December.

The decision may also undercut the calls by the international community and opposition groups who had opposed extension of mandate and any moves that could jeopardise the implementation of an indirect election based on an agreement reached on September 17, 2020.

Under the agreement signed by President Farmaajo and leaders of five federal states; an indirect election was to be based on delegates nominated by elders in conjunction with the electoral management bodies. The delegates were to elect MPs who in turn vote for the president.

But the parties disagreed on who should be members of the electoral commission, security arrangements and venue of the polls in some of the federal states.

Last week, the parties fell out for the fourth time, failing to agree on the way forward and making no arrangements to return to the table. Opposition groups and donors demanded resumption of talks. They didn’t.

“Farmajo’s train has arrived at the station it had been running towards. Many people who were unsure about his intention now know better,” said Mr Abdishakur Abdirahman, leader of Wadajir Party and a presidential aspirant.

Mr Abdirahman and several other aspirants had formed the Council of Presidential Candidates, a caucus which has insisted on no extensions or parallel electoral programmes. Last week, the group led by ex-President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed called on parties to return to the table.

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