U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken “deeply concerned” by the electoral impasse in Somalia, and called on Somalia’s leaders to hold elections “immediately.
“The United States is deeply concerned by the electoral impasse in Somalia, which is creating political uncertainty that threatens security, stability, and development in the country. We call on Somalia’s federal and member state leaders to set aside narrow political objectives, uphold their responsibilities to the people of Somalia, and agree to immediately hold transparent and inclusive elections.”U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
“The current impasse undermines progress made to date, delays reforms urgently needed for Somalia to continue on the path to full debt relief, and hinders the fight against terrorism. The United States supports the right of Somali citizens to protest peacefully and firmly opposes the use of violence by any party. We urge Somalia’s leaders to safeguard the country’s future and find agreement to immediately conduct parliamentary and presidential elections.” he added.
The four-year term of Somalia’s president, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, formally ended last month – but he has refused to leave the office. With the federal parliament’s mandate also expired as of December 2020, Somalia now, for all intents and purposes, lacks a legitimate, effective national government.
Farmaajo argues that his tenure should be extended until new elections can be held. Talks had been taking place about the rules governing the elections, but these have stalled. The international community has taken the position of “no partial elections, no partial processes”, and Farmaajo justifies staying on to avoid a political vacuum. But this position is disingenuous since Farmaajo is himself responsible for creating this situation by having stymied negotiations over the electoral framework. As elections drew nearer, Farmaajo stepped up gerrymandering efforts to the point where important federal member states and opposition candidates refused further negotiations on the electoral framework – in essence withdrawing from elections until Farmaajo leaves.
The European Union must stop referring to the current country’s predicament simply as an “electoral impasse” and recognise it for the grave constitutional and political crisis that it is. That includes excluding Farmaajo from finding the solution. With his tenure ended, and lacking widespread Somali popular support, he should be treated as nothing more than a political party representative, not the sitting president. While a road map to elections is urgently needed, embedded in that accord must be a reinvigorated commitment to the state-building project which has been so dramatically derailed by a four-year attempt at centralising power led by Farmaajo himself.