Somalia faces political crisis as opposition boycotts elections
Opposition cries foul over fraud, unfair practices despite assurances by prime minister
Citing lack of transparency and widespread irregularities, Somalia’s opposition parties have said they will not participate in or accept results of the ongoing parliamentary elections.
The announcement came from a group of opposition candidates for the presidential election, which will be held once Somalia completes the process to elect 275 members of the parliament’s lower House of the People.
“The Union of Presidential Candidates declares that it does not condone, accept, and will not be part of the ongoing looting that destroys peace and the state-building process,” Dahir Mohamud Geele, a spokesman for the group, said in a statement on Tuesday evening.
This followed a weekend meeting between Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble and the opposition’s presidential contenders, who include two former heads of state.
In Sunday’s talks, Roble sought to ease rising political tensions over “lack of transparency and blatant violations” in the elections, according to a statement issued by the premier’s office.
Roble also met officials of Somalia’s elections authority on Monday, telling them that the situation was “unacceptable” and urging them to ensure that the polls are held in a fair and credible manner.
Analysts fear the potential impasse could push back Somalia to the deadly unrest witnessed during past political standoffs.
“The danger is that we could be in a scenario similar to what we saw this April,” Rashid Abdi, a regional political analyst told Anadolu Agency, referring to clashes that erupted after President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed signed a law extending his and his Cabinet’s term for two years.
“The solution is to return to the 2016 electoral model without any modifications, as well as changes in the leadership of the Federal Electoral Implementation Team (FEIT).”
Abdikarim Hassan Mohamed, a lawyer, said the onus lies with Roble to ensure that Somalia does not “lapse into conflict.”
“When you keep a system such as this informal election process, there is always room for such accusations [of fraud and violations],” he said.
“All stakeholders need to put aside their interests, look at how fragile Somalia’s situation is right now, and put public interest above everything. The prime minister needs to lead and unite all parties.”