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Somali Leaders at Odds on Election Schedule

By Mohamed Kahiye February 15, 2021

Members of Somalia's opposition groups say they will hold a peaceful protest later this week against President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo's government over delayed elections.

The coalition of Somalia's opposition presidential candidates announced the protest against the leadership of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo. The president, who is known by his nickname, Farmajo, has been seeking a second four-year term, but parliament has ruled out an extension.

Farmajo's term ended last week without a clear plan on presidential and parliamentary elections. His government and state leaders have failed to make headway on the issue.

Speaking during a press briefing in the capital, Mogadishu, the chairman of the opposition presidential candidates, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, said the peaceful demonstration is a result of the government's failure to conduct elections on a stipulated timetable.

He says the opposition political parties resolved to conduct a peaceful demonstration this Friday against the federal government's failure to conduct transparent polls and improve security and political stability in the Horn of Africa nation.

Former President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who is among those eyeing the top office, called on international partners including the United States to help Somalia toward the realization of a peaceful democratic state.

Mohamud says they expect the international community to be part of the solution and not the problem through engaging the leaders who complicate the ongoing impasse among the Somali political stakeholders.

As the dispute continues, civil society groups are urging the leaders to avoid actions that escalate an already tense political environment.

Hassan Mudane is the associate director of the Horn Institute for Peace and Development.

Mudane says it is very clear President Farmajo's government failed to conduct the polls on time, but it is also irresponsible on the opposition side to call for a protest amid the surge of COVID-19 cases in the country. He says there is also the risk of increased explosive attacks in Mogadishu, the capital.

The international community urged Somali leaders to avoid unilateral actions and proceed quickly to agree on implementing a September 2020 electoral deal which would allow 101 delegates to select members of parliament. They would in turn choose the next head of state. Farmajo has accused opposition leaders of backing out of the deal.

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