Somalia has postponed elections due to start on Sunday after months of delay in the deeply volatile Horn of Africa country, officials told AFP.
The indirect parliamentary and presidential polls were to open on July 25 with four days of voting for the upper house by state delegates. The electoral cycle was to end with a presidential poll on October 10.
“Even if the plan called for the start of upper house elections in the various states today, there is a delay, the elections may not take place as planned,” a member of the committee told AFP. election on condition of anonymity.
The delay was due to federal regions not being able to submit candidate lists on time, nor to form local committees to vote, the source added.
A spokesman for the federal government, Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimu, told AFP that the elections had been “postponed”, without providing details.
Al-Shabaab jihadists last week warned politicians against participating in the elections, which were due to start after months of deadlock and delays.
The threat, in an audio message purportedly recorded by Al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Umar Abu Ubaidah, underscores the security challenges facing the electoral process in the country.
The al-Qaeda-linked group has been fighting to topple the federal government since 2007 and frequently attacks government, security and civilian targets.
Somalia was plunged into an unprecedented constitutional crisis earlier this year, when President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and the leaders of the five Somali states failed to agree on the terms of a vote before the expiration of his term in February.
After months of sometimes violent stalemate, political leaders finally agreed last month on a voting timetable.
According to the agreed plan, delegates from the five federal states, chosen by various clans in that state, elect parliamentarians, who then elect a president. The process was due to start on Sunday.
But according to several sources who confided in AFP, the only state capable of voting “during the week” was Jubaland. According to a source, the state has already chosen its delegated committee and could publish a list of candidates “in the week”.
“We expect the elections to take place soon,” said Mohamed Adan, a senior government official in Jubaland. Another source said the electoral process could start in the state later on Sunday.
In Puntland state, sources told AFP that the elections had been delayed for “technical reasons”.
In Galmudug state, the local parliament is on hiatus and will meet again in early August.
In the South West state, the process is blocked because the regional president is abroad.
– The dead end explodes in violence –
Somalia’s political stalemate erupted in violence in April when negotiations broke down and the lower house extended the president’s term by two years, sparking shootings in the streets of Mogadishu.
Under pressure, the president, commonly known as Farmajo, canceled the extension and ordered his prime minister to meet again with heads of state to chart a new roadmap towards the elections.
The ballots follow a complex indirect pattern where special delegates chosen by the myriad elders of the country’s clans choose lawmakers, who in turn choose the president.
Successive leaders have promised a direct vote, but internal political struggles, logistical problems and the Al-Shabaab insurgency have prevented such an exercise.
# photo1The upper house vote will be followed by lower house elections from September 12 to October 2, according to an updated schedule released last week.
According to a statement released in June, the two assemblies were scheduled to meet to vote for the president on October 10, but no date for that election was given in the updated schedule.
Somalia has not staged a direct one-person-one-vote election since 1969, when dictator Siad Barre staged a coup and ruled for two decades.
Barre’s military regime collapsed in 1991 and Somalia sank into anarchy.
© 2021 AFP