Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo will meet with regional state governors today in Mogadishu to reconcile ideological differences concerning the country’s upcoming elections, the first in more than half a century.
According to the National Independent Electoral Commission, the parliamentary and presidential votes—set for November 2020 and February 2021, respectively—are almost certain to face delays and budget constraints due to political disharmony and COVID-19 disruption.
Somalia has long been afflicted by a strong divide between its highly autonomous periphery and political centre as regional officials have repeatedly accused Villa Somalia of electoral interference. Reports of an alleged conspiracy to rig the elections via surveillance technology have lowered expectations of a transparent electoral process and eventual democratic reform.
Expect the postponements to threaten the likelihood of a smooth political transition and provide the incumbent a foothold from which to contrive a term extension. Despite the passage of a landmark election law in February, two of four key provisions—the distribution of seats throughout Somali constituencies and the modalities of elected Somaliland lawmakers—remain undefined and could pose further obstacles to the nation’s political functionality. Expect the elections to constitute a critical junction in Somalia’s road to democratisation.
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Daniel is an analyst and editor on the Current Developments team. He contributes regularly to the Daily Brief, focusing primarily on European, Middle Eastern and sub-Saharan politics.