Somalia’s Dusamareb Conference: Make or break moment for President Farmajo

President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo’s invitation to regional state leaders for talks in Mogadishu failed because he did not fulfil the promises he made at the virtual meeting with them that preceded the invitation.

The president had promised to halt election legislations debate that was ongoing at parliament. He also promised to work to bring together the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament and to consult with regional leaders on the venue and date of the conference.

Instead of halting the debate on the election legislations, he added fuel to the fire, proposing that Banadir region be given 13 seats at the Upper House. The Speaker of the Lower House, meanwhile, declared that the Upper House had no part in the election process.

The president then went ahead to unilaterally set the venue and date of the conference at 5 July in Mogadishu.

Predictably, most of the regional states rejected the invitation, instead holding their own conference in Dusamareb. The first phase of the conference ended with the regional states having a common stance on the 2020/21 election, which was a good step forward.

Also supporting the regional state leaders’ stance but yet to publicly say so is Prime Minister Hassan Ali Kheyre. Political stakeholders, led by the opposition Wadajir Party and the Forum for National Parties, also stand with the outcome of the conference.

However, President Farmajo, together with the Speaker of the Lower House and his deputy, are strongly opposed.

The government, regional states and other political stakeholders recognise the fact that one person one vote requires a move away from the clan-based 4.5 power sharing system, it also requires reliable security, finances, political agreement and other technicalities.

President Farmajo did not invest the time, effort and money needed to make one man one vote election possible. He did not take responsibility to ensure an inclusive and timely election happens in the country. In spite of that, he still insists on a one person one vote election. Some representatives of the international community, for reasons known only to them, are egging on the president on this lip service declaration.

Political stakeholders, civil society groups and other intellectuals are aware of the dangers posed by a term extension for the federal government, which may lead to irreversible political instability in the country.

Meetings and mobilisations activities aimed at saving the country from political chaos are being held in Mogadishu. Various sections of the community are pressuring the government to hold a timely and inclusive election

The president has a choice to make today, between either taking the opportunity to reach a settlement with his opponents and ensure a timely and inclusive election is held, or to sabotage the conference which would result in further confusion and political chaos.