Igad calls for credible elections in Somalia's Jubbaland
- Igad is pressing parties to work within the electoral laws in the federal state, warning they could make or break the efforts to stabilise the country.
- Opposition forms own electoral commission and sets new elections dates.
Regional bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) sees Jubbaland elections as a test for Somalia’s continuing stability as it implements electoral reforms.
Ahead of the regional poll slated for August 21, Igad is pressing parties to work within the electoral laws in the federal state, warning they could make or break the efforts to stabilise the country.
On a tour of Kismayu, the capital of Jubbaland, Igad Special Envoy Mohamed Ali Guyo Wednesday called on the state to follow a process that will not splinter the region.
"We urged the sides to promote and stability of the state, it is very important to hold inclusive transparent and more credible so that the result is not contentious and is accepted widely," he said, in a statement released on Thursday.
Jubbaland state, which borders Kenya, goes to the elections to either confirm or replace president Sheikh Ahmed Islam Madobe who has been in power since 2015.
Mr Madobe rose to popularity after his Ras Kamboni brigade worked with the Kenya Defence Forces to defeat al-Shabaab in Kismayu in September 2012. He later became president, supported by the African Union Mission Forces (Amisom) in the area, composed of Kenyan and Ethiopian troops.
The electoral process though has seen various squabbles first among potential candidates, and between Jubbaland and the federal government of Somalia under President Mohamed Farmaajo.
The Igad envoy spoke a day before a group of opposition presidential candidates under the Union of Presidential Candidates for Change in Jubbaland made a controversial announcement saying they had a new electoral commission that set new dates for the elections.
The new ‘commission’ of 12 officials announced it will start selecting MPs who will in turn vote in the president.
However, the move could be illegal, as the incumbent president Madobe had already appointed the electoral commission.
Madobe’s commission has, however, ran into disputes with President Mohamed Farmaajo’s administration. Mogadishu disagrees with the choice of elders meant to select the local MPs who in turn elect the president.
According to an earlier statement from President Farmaajo, some of the elders, appointed by the electoral commission, were not cleared by security agencies.
The law allows state presidents to appoint electoral commissions, which in turn selects the elders’ councils, formed from representatives of major clans in the regional states. The commission also set the electoral rules.
“When it comes to state elections in the (Somali) federal system, it is always the state that has the sole responsibility of administering its elections,” Mr Abdirizak Mohamed, an MP in the Somali Federal Parliament tweeted.
“The FGS (federal government of Somalia) is trying to sway the election in Jubbaland in favour of its own candidate in a blatant violation of our constitution,” he added.
Among those challenging Mr Madobe include Abdinasir Seraar, a former spokesman in Madobe’s administration and Mohamed Dahir Marsheye who once worked with the Food and Agriculture Organisation.
Others are Mohamoud Mohamed Omar, Mohamed Omar Gedi, Mohamed Abdulle Magan, Anab Mohamed Dahir, Abdi Hiis Udan, Ahmed Abdi Abdi and Abdirahman Ahmed Rabi.
Jubbaland has enjoyed relative calm since 2015, despite recent Shabaab attacks.
Now, Igad says if a credible election is conducted in Jubbaland in which parties agree, this will sustain the fragile stability and enable Somalia to weed out remaining strongholds for the extremists.
On Wednesday, Somalia launched a public awareness campaign on the 2020/21 elections “to ensure residents keep abreast of ongoing preparations for the one-person-one-vote exercise,” according to a brief by Amisom.
Mr Simon Mulongo, the Deputy Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia, said Amisom will support the programme, which will also determine how successful the Mission’s exit plan works from end of next year.
“Amisom and other partners will ensure that all Somalis participate in the upcoming elections by educating and preparing them for the electoral process to ensure democracy is fully implemented in Somalia,” said Mr Mulongo.