Somalia In A Political Deadlock As Farmajo’s Presidency Expires.
As the world tries to come to terms with the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Somalia is negotiating a political impasse that threatens to shatter a semblance of political certainty that prevailed over the last four years that many observers had described as an opportunity to meaningful statehood. Somalia finds itself once again embroiled in a political deadlock due to the ever-recurring political disputes over electoral processes. The current issues generating controversy in the country are a constitution of electoral , dispute resolution commissions and election procedures for Somaliland and Gedo regions, all of which continue to delay each round of elections.
The deadlock stems from the deep-rooted trust deficit between the centrifugal and centripetal forces in Somalia that has been exacerbated in recent years by incumbent President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmaajo’s self-centred approach to governance, and his administration’s failure to effectively manage the complex political dispensation of the country. Meanwhile, the four-year mandate of Parliament and the executive has expired without the election of a new administration or a key political settlement among stakeholders.Observers in the region posit that the current election impasse presents a big roadblock to Somalia’s bumpy and frustratingly slow road to democratisation. Others see it as a necessary inconvenience to deepen and strengthen electoral structures and processes – key components for Somali state-building. And some view the incumbent President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed ‘Farmajo’ manoeuvres as a ploy to tighten his grip on power at the expense of Somali troubled statehood.
Much as the international community has helped Somalia’s current administration to restore her image and legitimacy, there is an opinion gaining traction that the current political gridlock will water down these gains that have been painstakingly achieved over the years. Looking at the ongoing election impasse, it is increasingly becoming clear that the Somalia political class lacks a shared understanding of what it takes to build a stable state. Stabilisation efforts in Somalia have yet to bear fruit due to the absence of a suitable political settlement that caters to the interests of all those involved. There are huge sentiments within Somalia and this is a decisive year to either manoeuvre out of this impasse or descend into chaos and anarchy derailing recent progress towards stability and overcoming a legacy of a civil war that has made her a laughing stock of the international community.
The current election stand-off is merely a repeat of the 2016 debacle. According to the Executive Director of Hiraal Institute and former national security, no lessons were learned and nothing has been done to improve the Somali election structures and processes. President Farmajo failed to achieve universal suffrage, though he never lacked support to implement that during his tenure, and this has led to a political deadlock robbing his administration of the much-needed legitimacy to help Somalia transition to a more certain and predictable future.Bottom of Form With President Farmajo’s mandate having expired and without a broad-based consensus on the way forward, a delay in Somalia’s high-stake elections appears inevitable.
This is happening at a time when the Somalia government is struggling to assert its control beyond Mogadishu. She is also reeling from the impact of COVID-19, a Locust infestation that has worsened food shortages and Al-Shabab scare to cause mayhem. To steer clear of contestation and resulting unrest further down the line, there is a need for renewed agreement and political settlement between the parties on a realistic electoral timeline. Failure to establish a framework for political order in Somalia could heighten clan-based grievances, the risks of Al-Shabaab regaining vast swathes of the country and the new involvement of regional actors. As the country tries to overcome the demons that have haunted her past, there are genuine fears that she could slide back into anarchy making her a hot spot for conflict in the horn of Africa.