By CIUGU MWAGIRU
After decades of hopeless entrapment in an economic, social and political quagmire, the volatile Federal Republic of Somalia on Saturday embarked on an elaborate electoral programme.
The presidential election slated for October 30 is eagerly awaited.
The formal launch of the elections ushered in prospects of the country’s emergence from the doldrums. Perhaps as a sign of things to come, Saturday marked the beginning of the selection of the 275-member Lower House, also known as the people’s hall.
To be a Member of Parliament, one must get 51 voters, in accordance with the laid-down rules. Voting ends on October 10. The 54-member Upper House is expected to be in place by Sunday.
To ensure regional inclusivity, lawmakers in that chamber will be chosen by the state members of the Federal Republic namely Puntland, Galmudug, Southwest and Jubaland regions.
Gratefully, even before the drive for national rebirth started on Saturday, major players in the global community, including the United Nations and African Union, had promised to support the intricate elections both morally and materially.
Even more importantly for the country, African Union Mission in Somalia troops troops guaranteed safety of election venues.
But amid hope that Somalia will finally become stable and cease to be a theatre of chaos, the situation in other hotspots such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi and the Central African Republic is not reassuring.
Scores have died in demos rocking the DRC. Unfortunately, the cyclic chaos resulted in the collapse on Friday of the wobbly peace negotiations.
The violence was sparked by the perceived reluctance of President Joseph Kabila to relinquish power at the end of his second term.
The crisis seems intractable, with no signs of consensus regarding the desired regime change.
Burundi is yet another country that is on the precipice. Though the government has denied it, investigators tasked by the UN Human Rights Council in January to look into abuses recently said Burundi was on the verge of a genocide.
The experts’ view is not surprising, given events in Burundi since the country descended into violence in April 2015, sparked by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term. The chaos persisted even after he won the controversial vote in July.
The Central African Republic held a long-awaited presidential election in February. Former premier Faustin-Archange Touadéra won it.
According to recent reports, rebels and militia still stalk much of the country outside capital Bangui.
The latest developments in Somalia are the culmination of a process launched on August 9, when the National Leadership Forum unveiled the modalities for elections at various levels in the country’s political structure.