Plot thickens as Somalia PM Roble frustrates Jubaland and Puntland leaders


MOGADISHU, Somalia - Efforts to unravel the current electoral impasse in Somalia took a nosedive on Wednesday, with questions now being asked whether it's Villa Somalia or federal member states trying to delay elections, but the former seemingly taking lots of blames.

Mandated to find a solution to the current political stalemate, Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble has cut the image of an unprincipled leader, who is easily swayed if at all Wednesday's events is anything to go by.

Roble replaced Hassan Ali Khaire in September last year after the former failed to agree with outgoing President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo on the model and date for elections. But since taking over, Roble, formerly with the NGOs, has failed to make substantive steps in terms of solving the electoral quagmire.

For instance, on Wednesday, the PM canceled a meeting with the Jubaland and Puntland administrations in Mogadishu despite having scheduled it, further raising eyebrows at his commitment to push for credible and transparent elections.

Without giving much detail, Roble sent an "apology" to Said Abdullahi Deni and Ahmed Islam Mohamed Madobe for "failing to make it to the meeting", adding that "kindly agree on the agenda, forward it to me for review". The move, critics argue, portrays Roble as a "flip-flop" who can't make "independent" decisions.

Angered by Roble's absence, the leaders of Puntland and Jubaland, who have failed to meet Federal Government of Somalia leadership for three weeks now despite pitching tent in Mogadishu, accused Villa Somalia of "sabotaging" electoral process in the country.

For the country to move forward, they noted, all stakeholders must review the reasons behind the delayed implementation of the September 17 pre-election deal, the Baidoa recommendations besides evaluating the "legitimacy" of the current administration.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo had his term expire on Feb 8 this year but the administration is yet to give a clear roadmap to elections. On Wednesday, the United Nations Security Council [UNSC] asked the country's leadership to urgently solve the impasse.

The PM has previously failed in his many attempts to mediate between the competing sides while beholden to his appointing authority. Sources told Garowe Online, the PM cannot make any decision on the electoral crisis since he's "held hostage" by Villa Somalia.

Already, there are suspicions that the administration could be plotting to extend Farmajo's term, leading to chaos within the Lower House. On Wednesday, heavily armed security forces were deployed near parliament, leading to condemnation from members of the opposition.

"This morning technical mounted vehicles, armored APCs and about 30 NISA security and SNA made checkpoints near my house and blocked all side- roads leading to my house just to prevent me from attending parliament session. Resources that should be used for counterterrorism," said Abdirizak Mohamed, one of the MPs who was suspended on Saturday.

"It's very unfortunate that ex-President Farmaajo is pushing the country into a military crisis. Indeed. Instead of using resources to counter al-Shabaab, Farmaajo's priorities are to counter political opposition," added Senator Ali Hassan.

Despite the growing pressure and allegations over plans to extend Farmajo's term, Villa Somalia has remained tight-lipped. It's not clear how long it will take for the country to solve the stalemate, but efforts are being made to ensure Somalia doesn't plunge into civil war.


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