Somali leader calls for talks over election impasse

Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo speaks after winning the vote in Mogadishu, Somalia, Feb. 8, 2017. Former Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo was elected new president of Somalia in a tightly contested polls held in Mogadishu on Wednesday. (Xinhua/Pan Siwei)

Somali President Mohamed Farmajo has called for consultative talks on March 4 with federal member state leaders to break an election deadlock and avert a constitutional crisis.

Farmajo said in a statement issued on Monday evening that the day-long event will take place in Mogadishu to help finalize talks on delayed elections and findings tabled by the technical committee.”The forum marks the climax of efforts towards implementing the elections agreements and recommendations,” the presidency said.

Farmajo whose term in office officially ended on Feb. 8 has failed to secure any agreement in the previous rounds of consultative talks between his government and leaders of Puntland and Jubaland states. The two regional states have demanded that Farmajo stops chairing the talks since his term has already lapsed and he should only attend such meetings as a presidential candidate and not as a president.

The contentious issue between Farmajo and Jubaland leader Ahmed Madobe is the deployment of troops in the Gedo region where 16 electoral seats will be up for grabs. The council of presidential candidates has also demanded the resignation of Farmajo who is seeking another four-year term after he failed to conduct credible, free and fair polls. The presidential candidates have instead called on Farmajo to hand over the office to a transitional council.

Farmajo’s announcement follows a meeting between Prime Minister Mohamed Roble and the oppositional presidential candidates in Mogadishu on Monday where the two sides cited progress on issues raised. The Monday meeting also formed two commissions which will work on ensuring how peaceful protests will be held while the second will investigate Feb. 19 armed clashes in Mogadishu and assassination attempt claims on two presidential candidates.

The proposed Thursday meeting between Farmajo and five federal member state leaders is expected to arrive at a way forward for the delayed elections, considered critical for the sake of entrenching the federal system of governance, which is required to appease communities and regions claiming systematic exclusion and marginalization for decades.

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