Meeting between Somalia’s Federal and Regional Leaders Underway in Mogadishu

MOGADISHU (Somaliguardian) – Meeting between Somalia’s federal and regional leaders is underway for the second day in the capital Mogadishu after it was officially opened on Sunday, as the international community representatives continue with efforts aimed at bringing an end to a long-standing political stalemate in the country.

Among the issues discussed are the electoral models that hampered the progress of previous meetings in the town of Dhusamareb, which failed to produce intended results after the federal government and allied regional states signed an agreement without the presence of Puntland and Jubaland leaders.

According to officials at the Somali Presidential Palace, discussions on the agenda set for the meeting have begun on Monday. Leaders of Jubaland, Puntland, Hirshabelle, Southwest and Galmudug are present at the event along with Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and the Mayor of Mogadishu.

In previous meetings, Presidents of Puntland and Jubaland demanded change in the points of the Dhusamareb deal of which they were not among its signatories and boycotted as a result. Before the opening of the conference, they met with other political stakeholders including former presidents, opposition figures and the speaker of the upper house of the Somali parliament.

Puntland and Jubaland leaders affirmed their position to other political stakeholders who are not currently part of talks on upcoming elections, stressing that any agreement reached would be in the benefit of all groups, as opposed to the federal government’s endeavors.

What are the key issues being discussed at the meeting?

Following the recent Dhusamareb conference, the federal government and three regional states agreed to hold another popular election and increase the number of delegates who will be electing members of parliament.

Puntland and Jubaland leaders proposed to change several points in the previous agreement that visibly goes against their interests and as an alternative, favors the incumbent leader who is going to launch his bid for reelection in the upcoming presidential elections.

For Jubaland President, withdrawal of Turkish-trained government troops from Gedo region was a necessity if talks were to culminate in an agreement over yet unresolved political impasse that drastically crippled fragile hope of governance in the war-torn Horn of Africa nation.

The region was captured by the federal government troops from the Jubaland authorities several months ago and since then has been under shadow of armed confrontations and escalating tensions, although the current administration allocates more resources to its efforts aimed to hold grip on the strategic region.

Both Puntland and Jubaland regional states believe that the current National Independent Electoral Commission is unable to hold elections on time as pressed by political stakeholders, noting that it is serving under the directions of the incumbent leader.

What will the outcome look like?

Following three consecutive conferences in Dhusamareb, the two sides failed to reach mutual agreement on contentious issues and to comprise, but instead, a unilateral action was taken by the federal government and affiliated regional states in disobedience to calls by the international community.

Somali political analysts say the prospect of similar fiasco facing the ongoing talks cannot be ruled out despite growing pressure from Somalia’s international partners, who had previously ordered both sides to show commitment to ensure that the outcome of talks are palatable to the public.

During a speech to parliament, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo assured MPs that any deal reached with federal members states would be returned to them for taking their final stance – a context that many believe could be stumbling block to any effort aimed to end the stalemate.

Opposition leaders are not yet part of the ongoing talks and it is too early to predict if they would agree to the outcome of the ongoing talks over the upcoming elections.

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