EDITORIAL: With delays likely, Farmajo must show leadership at critical time


EDITORIAL | Somalia is sorely missing out on key activities scheduled under the agreed electoral calendar. And as things stand, it will require President Mohamed Farmaajo to reboot his leadership skills.

For a start, Somalia should be conducting elections for senators this week. This hasn’t happened. Somalia would be planning for the election of House of the People representatives. It hasn’t happened either which could mean the polls meant to be done by December 27 will miss the deadline.

The overall problem stems from the fact that Somalia doesn’t have delegates to vote for those MPs in place. It is an activity that should have been done between November 1 and 30. Missing out on that crucial step has opened a chain of lateness. The fear now is that there could be delays in the election of the federal President which is to be done by February 8.

Who is to blame? Depending on who you ask, reasons have been thrown up in the air, including insecurity, lack of money, political bickering, and general lack of consensus.

From the beginning, we said the entire Somalia leadership was to blame in one way or another when the country failed to organize universal suffrage. When leaders stuttered on agreeing to an electoral deal, we also blamed them all.

But now, at this critical time, President Farmajo must seize his wisdom and decide whether further delays work in the interest of the country. If the federal government was keen on holding elections on time, why is it that delegates have not been selected yet? The President and his PM Hussein Roble have in the past promised a free, fair, and credible election. An election, however, does not get credit on voting day. It starts with small things like fidelity to the agreed timetable, transparency in the selection of polling officials, and openness in the selection of delegates.

What we have seen in Somalia, however, has been far from this. The opposition politicians have accused the federal government of selecting cronies as polling officials. Jubbaland state has now said it will hold elections of the 16 legislators only if assured of control of its area of jurisdiction. The federal government on its part has diverted blame, accusing Kenya of manipulating Jubaland.

Somalia is not a perfect item. But the federal government and federal states signed a deal that indicated things would run perfectly to ensure timely election. That we have run behind schedule must be alarming enough.

The elephant in the room, however, is that no matter the buck-passing, Somalia’s future will depend on how Farmaajo steadies this ship. His legacy depends on how he holds a successful election. The future of Somalia also depends on it.

There may be many instruments at play in this chaotic orchestra of Somalia politics. But the conductor, President Farmaajo, may be accused of lack of proper leadership if he can’t halt the offkey play and reset the beat.

At this time, all eyes will be on Farmaajo. He must show leadership at this critical time and pull Somalia out of the chaos. History has always taught us that dialogue and compromise have been the best tool to break deadlocks. It doesn’t have to be different this time.


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