Somali FM: Electoral deal reached ‘in principle’ by leaders

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Mogadishu (HOL) – Somalia’s Foreign Minister told the UN Security Council on Tuesday that federal and regional leaders have reached a tentative electoral deal that would finally see long-delayed elections.

Mohamed Abdirizak said through videolink that three main issues that remained obstacles to elections had been worked out.

“We have now reached an agreement that will lead Somalia to inclusive, credible, free and fair elections. The three key outstanding issues to complete the agreement were all discusses and agreed upon in principle.”

The Foreign Minister said that an official communique is expected to be released following the conclusion of the talks

Somalia plunged into a political crisis after Somalia’s federal and regional leaders could not agree on the indirect election modality. The leaders met over a half dozen times in various venues to no avail. The political situation was exacerbated by calls for President Farmajo to step down after he overstayed his constitutional mandate that expired on February 8th.

The drama crescendoed late last month when forces loyal to President Farmajo clashed with soldiers aligned with the opposition in the capital after Farmajo attempted to extend his mandate for two years through a controversial Lower House of Parliament resolution. The clashes in northern Mogadishu exposed the cracks appearing in Somalia’s security sector and pushed Somalia to the brink of civil war.

UN special envoy James Swan, who spoke to the Council shortly before Abdirizak, said there were worries that April 25 clashes would spill out into “broader conflict” and reassured the Council that “since then, Somalia has come back from the brink of this worst-case scenario.”

Facing intense criticism at home and abroad, Farmajo walked back the extension and tapped the Prime Minister, Mohamed Hussein Roble, to lead the negotiation efforts on behalf of the federal government.

Somalia’s leaders launched the seventh and latest round of consultative electoral talks this past weekend. Early reports seemed to suggest that they were making serious headway and that a deal was within reach. Abdirizak shared this sentiment with the Security Council.

“The negotiation process has not been easy, and this demonstrates how vital consensus remains, and without consensus how fragile peace in Somalia is, and how fragile our institutions of government remain,” Abdirizak said. “However, we have now reached an agreement that will lead Somalia to free elections, fairer elections.”