Challenges facing merger of Somali opposition parties

In the past few days, there have been meetings that were held in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, between major political parties in the country. The objective of these meetings was to form a single platform that would unite these political parties, but differences have already emerged over how it should be structured.

The Union for Peace and Development (UPD), ILAYS and Himilo Qaran (National Aspirations) have agreed to form a united party platform with a chairman and deputies. It would be led by former Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. The leaders of the three parties then went to Wadajir Party Leader Abdirahman Abdishakur and asked him to join their platform of unity.

Abdishakur, displeased with the idea of non-consultation, suggested that a coordinator be appointed for the platform. He also expressed suspicions about some of parties who are holding talks with the government, and others whose positions on some matters are similar to those of the government, such as the support for Galmudug state’s presidential candidate, Ahmed Qorqor, by some top Himilo Qaran officials.

Abdishakur proposed that if the platform has to have a leader and a chairman, all parties involved must be ready to make real concessions and compromises and accept a complete merger. This means that everyone in the party platform must follow a single policy in regards to elections in Galmudug, HirShabelle and Banadir regions. The platform should also have one flagbearer in the 2020 elections and follow a united policy towards Farmajo’s government.

If there is no real unity, with some parties sharing the same policies as that of the government and others in talks with it, then the opposition parties seeking to unite should limit themselves to cooperating on those issues that they agree on, with a coordinator helping guide their decisions on such issues.

Given that the Wadajir Party is known to be fiercely opposed to the policies of the government led by President Farmajo, it remains to be seen how it is going to work with some parties in the platform who share common policies with the ruling Nabad iyo Nolol group, as well as the others who are currently in talks with it.