Somalia’s Coalition for Change condemns National Leadership Forum extension of term

PRESS STATEMENT-The Coalition for Change is a platform for political parties, forums, presidential candidates and politicians who have collectively consented to coordinate their activities in order to bring about a positive political transformation in Somalia leading up to the 2016 legislative and presidential elections.

We have followed the developments surrounding the 2016 electoral process closely, and are deeply concerned by the positions and actions taken by the National Leadership Forum as articulated in the NLF’s Communique of 9 August 2016. In response to the NLF’s Communique, we collectively express the following:

1. The Coalition condemns in the strongest terms the National Leadership Forum’s disregard for the rule of law and the respect for and sanctity of the Somali constitution in extending the term of the executive office holders beyond the mandated term. This extension is an utter violation of Article 91 of the Provisional Constitution that mandates the President of the Federal Republic’s term not exceed the allotted four (4) years. As per Article 91, the mandate of the incumbent President’s term should cease on 10 September 2016.

2. The coalition is dismayed that the National Leadership Forum acted as legislators for the 2016 electoral process and beyond by setting a timetable for parliamentary candidates to join a political party with a condition that parliamentary candidates should commit to the above for eligibility for a seat in Parliament.

3. The Coalition is deeply concerned about the independence and effectiveness of the electoral commission and the lack of transparency in the electoral process. The weakness of the electoral commission has resulted in the hasty adoption of an unsuitable electoral model, and a murky and confusing electoral process that may help to serve politically vested interests in extending the terms of the highest office holders beyond October 2016.

4. The Coalition takes issue with exorbitant fees for registration of candidates running for parliamentary seats (i.e., US$ 5,000 to contest for a Lower House seat and US$ 10,000 for an Upper House seat). This can result in the harmful effect of monetizing electoral politics in our country, linking wealth with the electability of parliamentary candidates. The establishment of such candidate eligibility criteria violates the political rights of citizens from all walks of life to contest in parliamentary elections, and does not provide an equal playing field for all aspiring candidates. Moreover, given Somalia’s recent electoral history, the decision to institute a financial criterion to determine who could stand as a candidate can serve to further entrench a political culture that normalizes corrupt forms of electioneering in the form of exchanging vote-buying for financially securing parliamentary seats.

5. The Coalition is gravely fearful of the consequences of a rigged electoral process and the potential for inflaming violence in electoral constituencies that may lead to the resurgence of conflict in and between communities throughout Somalia.

6. The Coalition expresses deep concern for the security of clan elders and aspiring parliamentary and presidential candidates, as their safety may be in jeopardy from the twin problems of insecurity and election-related violence that may stem from a hasty and poorly managed electoral process.

The Coalition calls for:

A constitutional handover of the Presidency of the Somali Federal Republic to the Speaker of the Parliament with immediate effect by the 10th of September, 2016, as per Article 95 of the Somali Provisional Constitution.

Stringent security measures be put in place to ensure the safety of traditional elders, parliamentary and presidential hopefuls, politicians, civil servants and citizens.

A review and amendment of parliamentary candidate eligibility requirements so as to allow all aspiring Somalis to run for Parliament on an equal footing.

All political leaders in opposition to join their forces together to enact positive change required to reverse the failed leadership of the incumbent administration that has broken its compact with the Somali people and flouted its constitutionally mandated responsibilities.

Finally, the Coalition will articulate its recommendations for a fair, transparent, and smooth 2016 election process. These recommendations will be shared with all relevant stakeholders, most importantly, the Somali public.

Members of the Coalition for Change

1. H.E. Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed, Chairman of the National Forum Party, former Prime Minister and 2016 Presidential Candidate.
2. H.E. Abdi Farah Shirdon, former Prime Minister
3. H.E. Abdirahman Sheikh Mohamed Farole, Former President of Puntland and 2016 Presidential Candidate.
4. Hon. Abdullahi Godah Barre, former Minister of Interior and Federal Affairs, Federal Government of Somalia
5. Hon. Abdullahi Elmoge Hersi, Chairman of National Alliance Reform Party (XIIS), former Minister of Information, Post, Telecommunication and Transportation, Federal Government of Somalia.
6. Hon. Ali Haji Warsame, Chairman of the National Forum for Justice and Development (NFJD) and former 2014 Presidential Candidate of Puntland.
7. Dr. Abdurahman Moallim Abdullahi (Baadiyow), Deputy Chairman of National Forum Party and former 2012 Presidential Candidate.
8. Dr. Abdinasir Abdille Mohamed, Gurmad and Presidential Candidate for 2016.

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Mareeg senior news editor since 2001 and he can be reached at news@mareeg.com