US threatens sanctions against Somali Government following a historic vote in Parliament

The response from the international community to recent events in Somalia has come as a shock to many yesterday. On April 12th, Golaha Shacabka voted to extend the mandate of Parliament and other Federal institutions including the Presidency for up to two years in an attempt to find a legal solution to the constitutional crisis facing Somalia following the electoral impasse.

A Recap

As many of you know by now, the last few months have been a political rollercoaster in Muqdisho with the Federal government and the Federal member states of Puntland and Jubaland at loggerheads regarding the signing of the 17th September Agreement.

After refusing to take part in multiple talks, Puntland and Jubaland introduced a series of never-ending impossible conditions which would undermined Somali sovereignty. This included allowing the International Community (IC) to chair and mediate the Somali elections. This directly resulted in the collapse of the Afisyooni talks as the Minister of Information Cismaan Dubbe declared on national television just three days after it started.

The constitutional term of Federal institutions ended by February 8th, however Parliament passed Law 30 on Sept 27, 2020 which enabled there to be a legal short-term extension to Federal institutions in a situation where the electoral model is not agreed upon. As all have witnessed, Jubaland and Puntland attempted to stall and hijack the election process with a series of never-ending conditions while the International Community remained quiet on the matter. This continued stalemate would inevitably led to an unknown and unprecedented constitutional crisis. Consequently, the Federal Parliament acted upon its constitutional duties and passed a new law which would extend its mandate for up to two years to hold a ‘One Person One Vote‘ election based on recommendations put forward by the National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC).

Its legality has been question by some of the opposition in Somalia. The Speaker of the Upper House and member of the opposition, Cabdi Xaashi called it unconstitutional and illegal as the Upper House did not debate the law. However, a closer inspection of the constitution suggests otherwise. Article 47 of the Somali Provisional Constitution stipulates that Golaha Shacabka has the sole authority to enact laws revolving around elections at the Federal level debunking legal arguments by opponents.

US State Department threatens sanction against Somali Government

What baffles a lot of Somalis who are supporters of democracy and peace is that the United States, the biggest catalyst of democracy in the world since 1945 is threatening a small nation with sanctions because its Parliament decided to vote for direct elections rather than indirect elections.

Firstly, you might be asking yourself, what does US have to do with the Somali elections? The United States has contributed millions of dollars along with other foreign countries to provide funds to hold an open and fair election, yet they are against a direct election in the form of ‘One Person, One Vote‘ passed Golaha Shacabka alongside opposition groups.

This model enables each individual citizen to freely vote with their own conscious as to who they see as the next President of Somalia. Such a right has not been exercised in Somalia since 1969. In contrast, the 17th September Agreement would hold indirect elections based on the 4.5 clan system. This model is prone to corruption and is the a major contributing factor as to why Somalia remains the second most corrupt country in the world according to Transparency International. Therefore, it is quite evident Somalia needs to move away from past errors and move in a more open and fair direction. Direct elections would do just that.

Indeed, with all the criminality occurring all around Somalia, one would ask themselves, why would the US sanction Somalia for exercising its legal right within its legal jurisdiction? For instance, just across the Gulf of Aden, atrocities has killed more than 230,000 Yemenis yet no one is sanctioned or brought to justice. Kenya has broken international laws on multiple occasions by undermining Somali sovereignty yet no condemnation. However, when Somalia decides to have a temporary legal extension to Federal institutions to have an open election, the international community threatens sanctions. It is bewildering to say the least and leads one to question their motivations in Somalia.

What to conclude?

Irrespective of where one stands in the political spectrum, all Somalis need to be wary of the motives of the IC in Xalane. The fact that the International Community remained silent on the continues clear roadblocks setup by Puntland and Jubaland to inhibit indirect election yet immediately condemn Golaha Shacabka for temporary extending its the legal mandate to implement a direct election will raise many eyebrows in Somalia.

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