posted on Thu 18 Aug 2016 4:43 PM
Adoption of Somalia Presidential Statement

Tomorrow (19 August), the Council is expected to adopt a presidential statement following the recent meeting of Somalia’s National Leadership Forum (NLF) on the implementation of the 2016 National Electoral Process. An initial draft was circulated by the UK, the penholder on Somalia, on 12 August and was negotiated over email. Following comments from Council members two revised drafts were circulated, and the text passed through a silence procedure earlier today.

Somalia’s NLF held a meeting in Mogadishu from 2 to 9 August, to finalise the pending issues on the implementation of the 2016 National Electoral Process. A communiqué issued following the NLF meeting stated that “due to the existing circumstances, it is not possible to hold elections within the remaining period of the term of office for the current government institutions of the Federal Parliament and the President”. In order to avert an institutional vacuum in the constitutionally mandated institutions the NLF authorised the current institutions to continue to hold office until the new results of the elections of the constitutional institutions are announced. It endorsed a timetable for the upcoming elections, according to which a new federal parliament will be decided between 24 September and 10 October, and a president elected on 30 October. The communiqué also addressed the finalisation of the constitutional review, the transition away from the clan-based 4.5 voting system (which gives an equal share to each of the four major clans while a coalition of smaller clans gets half a share), the allocation of seats for women in parliament, the representation of minority communities,the electoral process and college for the Banadiri community, voting criteria and other issues.

The Council in resolution 2232 of July 2015 and subsequent press statements has said that it expects no delay in the holding of elections in August. However, in drafting this presidential statement the UK felt that the Council needed to respond to the delay, which it understood as necessary for an inclusive process and to enable the technical modalities to be put in place to ensure as many Somalis as possible are able to take part in the 2016 elections. It appears that the President of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, would like a Council response on the matter before issuing a presidential decree formally amending the electoral timelines. With President Mohamud’s mandate expiring on 20 August, Council members were aware of the need to adopt the presidential statement by 19 August.

The draft presidential statement welcomes the recent meeting of Somalia’s NLF on the implementation of the 2016 National Electoral Process and the continued political and security progress in Somalia since 2012, and underscores the need to maintain the momentum towards democratic governance, with an inclusive and credible electoral process in 2016 as a stepping stone to universal suffrage elections in 2020. It notes the consensus decision of the NLF to extend the timeline for the parliamentary and presidential elections to allow for the implementation of the technical modalities which will facilitate an inclusive process, as envisaged by the National Consultative Forum in the Mogadishu Declaration of 16 December 2015. The draft statement regrets the delay to the original timeline. It calls on all Somali stakeholders to work constructively to implement the revised calendar without delay and notes the NLF’s decision to extend the current mandates of the federal institutions to respect this timeline.

The statement also welcomes the further provisions in the NLF communiqué of 9 August, commends the establishment of an Electoral Dispute Resolution Mechanism and emphasises the importance of adhering to the political road map between now and 2020, in particular in order to reach one-person, one-vote elections by 2020.

The one point of contention in negotiating the draft presidential statement was related to welcoming specific elements of the 9 August communiqué, including Somalia’s commitment to reserve 30 percent of seats in the Upper and Lower Houses for women, which the Council previously welcomed in the 7 July adoption of resolution 2297 that reauthorised the renewal of the AU Mission in Somalia. It seems that the Egyptian delegation expressed concern with the approach of referencing specific elements of the communiqué as opposed to broadly expressing support for the Somali-led process as outlined in the communiqué and its provisions. Noting that sources on the ground have warned that the goal of allocating 30 percent of the seats to women may be unattainable by October, Egypt cautioned against welcoming it specifically and having to express regret if it is not achieved in October. It seems that the UK, with support from members such as France, Japan and Spain, opted to keep the specific reference to the allocation of seats to women, which was retained in the final text that passed silence earlier today.