Somalia parliament passes electoral law ahead of 2020/21 polls


Somalia’s Lower House Chamber of Parliament has on Saturday passed controversial electoral law amid growing calls for amendment ahead of the approval.

The bill was prepared after a series of countrywide consultative meetings, which involved engaging stakeholders on the preferred model for polls.

Of the 178 members, 171 voted in favor of the draft bill, 5 rejected it while two abstained. It is a major win for the current President Mohamed Farmajo.

For international community, passing of electoral law by the Lower House is one of the major victories in their consolidated efforts to restore democracy.

The draft law now has to be approved by the Upper House and signed by the president to become law. It will guide voting in 2020/21 polls.

While the law gives optimism to the Horn of Africa nation with regard to reverting to popular voting, analysts have warned against an extension of the current term of leaders.

At the center of contention is Article 53, which has attracted wide condemnation from among opposition leaders and rights groups in Somalia.

Should it be impossible for polls to be held as stipulated, the article states, the term of Parliament and the president shall be extended until elections are done.

Although it’s much unlikely that the bill will be rejected in Upper House, the opposition team is already crying foul, calling for immediate amendments.

Forum for National Parties (FNP) outfit on Friday protested the article, arguing that it would encourage non-commitment and impunity from the current administration.

The opposition outfit brings together six parties and is spearheaded by former Presidents Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. They called for the removal of the article saying they view it as a “precursor to an extension” by the current government under Mohamed Farmajo.

The article allows a delay of elections if serious events arise – natural disasters, diseases, droughts, and technical problems, the bill states.

Wadajir Party leader Abdirahman Abdishakur, who was voted Garowe Online person of the year, also rejected the article.

Abdishakur said, “there is no difference between a limit of six months and infinite extension of the term of office in this case because the six months could turn into six years.”

He added: “Parliament members campaigning for term extension should have confidence in their constituencies and prepare for elections, instead of creating chaos in the country.”

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