Somalia to miss another deadline for wrapping up parliamentary polls

A rickshaw taxi drives past the campaign poster of Somalia's President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed in Mogadishu, Somalia February 8, 2021. REUTERS/Feisal Omar/File Photo

MOGADISHU (somaliguardian) – Somalia is due to miss another deadline for wrapping up long-delayed parliamentary elections amid disputes still dragging on over how some of the contentious seats could be filled despite US pressure to conclude the process on its due date.

Last month, members of the National Consultative Council – the Premier, regional presidents and mayor of Mogadishu – agreed to extend the deadline for parliamentary elections until March 15 after failing to wrap them up by February 15, a deadline agreed during a meeting held in Mogadishu in January.

In a phone conversation with US ambassador to Somalia on Friday, Southwest, Galmudug and Puntland presidents said they would fill all the remaining seats on time, but the leader of Hirshabelle urged more time while Jubaland president complained that he could not hold elections in his region’s second constituency due to meddling by Villa Somalia.

Authorities in Gedo region also said last week that they would not allow a committee named by the Prime Minister, to assess whether votes could be held in Garbaharey, to arrive in the region, citing bias by some of its members in favor of Jubaland leader Ahmed Madobe.

Local media reported this week that the Premier and Jubaland leader were in agreement to relocate elections scheduled to be held in Garbaharey to Kismayo so that the regional president would be able to block all Farmajo allies from contesting.

A number of parliament seats in Baladwayne are still to be filled where tensions arising from attempts to stop opposition candidates from contesting led to deadly clashes and a dispute between regional president and his deputy.

It comes after the United States restricted visas last month for Somali officials it accused of undermining the ongoing elections in push to prevent further delays. But with only two days to go before March 15 deadline, there are no prospects of completion of votes.

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