The United Nations special envoy for Somalia, James Swan, warned Monday that the political crisis poses a “threat” to the country and regretted that “pressure tactics and “risky politics” are being resorted to instead of dialogue to bring the situation to an end.
The crisis stems from the end of President Mohamed Abdulahi Mohamed’s term of office on February 8, without presidential and parliamentary elections having yet been held. The opposition has terminated his mandate and called for a handover of power to a transitional body.
“Growing political tensions threaten Somalia’s progress in state-building and even its security unless they are resolved through dialogue and compromise in the interests of the country,” Swan said during an appearance before the UN Security Council.
He criticized that “public communications by key leaders is increasingly confrontational and confrontational, revealing frustration, mistrust and a sense of grievance felt by many”. “It is therefore a tense time in Somalia, as both rhetoric and actions are escalating,” he warned.
Swan also stressed that the UN “continues its efforts” to “understand and address the concerns” expressed by the leaders of the Jubaland and Puntland regions, who have so far refused to join the political dialogue process to resolve the crisis.
In this regard, the leader, popularly known as ‘Farmajo‘, on Monday made a new appeal to both leaders to “join the consultative meeting” to resolve the situation. “Completing the electoral process through dialogue and compromise is vital,” the Presidency said through its account on the social network Twitter.
Thus, Swan has emphasized that the September 17, 2020 political agreement for the organization of the polls “offers the best available option to proceed quickly with an electoral process for the selection of members of Parliament, senators and the president.”
“This would minimize further postponements in Somalia’s four-year transition cycle, ensure that elected national leaders have a clear mandate and are generally accepted, and allow the country to turn its sights from the current political contest to other vital national priorities, in the interest of the people,” he has argued.
“To move forward on this path, it is critical that Somali leaders use all available channels for dialogue and consultation, including reaching out to a wide range of political actors and influential civil society figures to make their important voices heard,” he added.
SUPERVISION OF THE ELECTORAL PROCESS
In this line, he argued that “to build confidence in the process, it would also be necessary to ensure that the management and supervision of the agreed electoral process is as impartial and independent as possible, subject to regular monitoring”.
Swan also pointed out that the fundamental rights of the population must be respected, including the rights of expression and assembly, and said that the United Nations is “prepared to move forward with the Somalis along this path, through its good offices or a forum for dialogue, offering technical assistance to the process and monitoring the implementation of the commitments, if the Somali parties consider these contributions to be useful”.
On the other hand, he maintained that the political crisis must be resolved so that the authorities can focus on other priorities, such as security and the economy, while recalling that the terrorist group Al Shabaab continues to pose a serious threat to the stability of the country.
He also highlighted that projections suggest that the number of people in need of humanitarian aid in Somalia will be around 5.9 million people this year, up from 5.2 million in 2020, while pointing to a “renewed upsurge” in coronavirus cases in the African country.
“It is time to pursue dialogue and compromise to achieve an inclusive and credible political agreement to hold elections as soon as possible, building on the model of the (agreement reached by the government and states on) September 17,” Swan has reiterated.
Swan’s words came after the Council of Presidential Candidates, which brings together 15 opponents – including several former presidents and former prime ministers – called on the UN Security Council to intervene in the crisis and accused ‘Farmajo’ of trying to kill several of them during Friday’s crackdown on protests in the capital, Mogadishu.
The agency called for a “rapid” intervention of the international body to achieve “a transfer of power” after the “resignation” of the president. It called for “the handover of power to a National Transitional Council composed of the presidents of the federated states and the presidents of the two chambers of Parliament”.
In this context, the authorities of Jubaland and Puntland expressed on Sunday their refusal to participate in the contacts promoted by ‘Farmajo’ arguing that his mandate has already ended and denouncing the repression of the protests. Also, Puntland President Abdulahi Deni accused the president of using the army to stay in power.
The electoral controversy broke out due to the opposition’s rejection of the work of the body set up to organize the elections because of its composition, understanding that it is formed by political appointees, intelligence agents and “friends” of the president, a reason which led them to announce their intention to create a parallel “national electoral salvation commission”.