No re-opening of pre-election deal, say Int'l partners calling for talks


MOGADISHU, Somalia - In a move geared towards restoring hope and election confidence, Somalia's international partners have warned against the re-opening of the September pre-election deal, adding that politicians in the country should embrace dialogue and compromise for the sake of stability.

In a statement on Tuesday, the partners said it was "deeply concerned" with the continued electoral impasse over the implementation of the pre-election deal, which was signed by President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and five Federal States' leaders last year.

The statement was issued hours after the union of presidential candidates accused Farmajo of plotting to "overstay" in power contrary to the rule of law. The union, which comprises 14 presidential candidates, asked the international community to chip in and "prevent" the country from plunging into chaos.

Some of the leading figures in the union are former Presidents Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, former Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire, and Wadajir leader Abdirahman Abdishakur. The team accuses Farmajo of installing NISA agents, civil servants, and his loyalists in the electoral committee.

But the international partners, in what seems like a stern warning to the opposition, now want the political leaders to ensuring implementation of the deal besides reaching compromise for the sake of elections, a move which many are not willing to embrace.

The partners appreciated the visit by Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble to Galmadug and Puntland where he tried to push for wider discussions over the polls.

However, the PM has indicated that elections will go on as planned especially in Galmadug, Hirshabelle, and Southwest, a decision that has been opposed by a number of stakeholders.

The partners noted that the 17 September agreement was endorsed by the Federal Government, all Federal Member States, and both houses of Parliament, and was also welcomed by many Presidential aspirants.

Notwithstanding the disappointment of the partners and many Somalis that this model falls far short of ‘one-person, one-vote’ elections, the 17 September Agreement remains the sole acceptable basis for the 2021 elections.

"There can be no re-opening of the 17 September Agreement or the creation of an alternative or parallel process. Broadly inclusive understandings on its implementation are needed to ensure the credibility of this process," read the statement.

"This would be in line with the agreed commitment from the Somali Partnership Forum. Partners would welcome an accelerated effort to resolve, as a matter of urgency, remaining issues and conclude such understandings in the coming days so that elections could begin later this month."

The partners urged Somalia’s leaders to respect and fully implement the 30 percent women’s quota in parliament, as they committed to in the 17 September Agreement.

The government has delayed plans to implement the agreement following objections by opposition leaders and a number of states which have raised serious integrity issues.

The international partners, the statement added, "reiterate that any threat or use of violence is not acceptable". They also emphasize the importance of free and open political space in which candidates are able to express their views peacefully and the media are able to operate without restriction, it added.


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