Mogadishu(Mogadishu24)-The recent National Consultative Council (NCC) meeting, intended to chart Somalia’s path forward, left many questions unanswered. Notably, the critical issue of election timelines was conspicuously absent. This omission raised significant concerns about the political stability and democratic future of Somalia. The debate between veteran journalists and political analysts, Ali Halane and Mohamed Hirmoge sheds light on the intricacies and implications of this development.

The NCC, while not a constitutional body, plays a crucial role in fostering dialogue on national issues, including elections. However, the latest meeting failed to address election timelines, despite the pressing need for clarity. The leaders of the federal government and federal member states (FMS) met but did not chart a clear path forward. This avoidance can be attributed to the fact that three out of six FMS leaders have already overstayed their mandates, making it politically expedient for them to avoid discussions on elections.

Ali Halane aptly described the election issue as “the elephant in the room.” The reluctance of FMS leaders to engage in election discussions stems from their expired mandates, with some leaders’ terms having lapsed years ago. This scenario creates a political deadlock, where leaders are buying time, possibly awaiting favorable conditions or further delaying tactics.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, despite his remaining mandate, appears complicit in this time-buying strategy. His reluctance to take decisive action could be seen as a political calculation to maintain balance and avoid losing the support of FMS leaders. However, this delay undermines the credibility of his administration and casts doubt on his commitment to democratic processes.

The NCC’s failure to provide a clear election timeline has broader implications. It suggests a possible extension of terms not only for FMS leaders but also potentially for the federal government. This scenario would mirror the current situation at the FMS level, where term extensions have become a norm rather than an exception. Such a development would be a significant setback for Somalia’s democratic aspirations.

The debate highlights a recurring pattern in Somali politics. Successive presidents, including the current and former leaders, have promised to deliver one-person-one-vote elections. Yet, when in power, these promises often give way to political maneuvering and delays. This cycle perpetuates a lack of trust in the political process and hinders progress towards meaningful democratic reforms.

The NCC’s communique, while supporting the implementation of contentious constitutional chapters, fails to address the immediate need for credible elections. The situation is further complicated by the lack of necessary infrastructure for direct elections, such as established parties, an independent election committee, and clear laws. The likelihood of indirect elections and technical extensions looms large, perpetuating a cycle of delays and undermining public trust.

As the political landscape remains uncertain, the responsibility lies with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to take decisive action. His mandate and political capital position him uniquely to drive the electoral process forward. Failure to do so not only risks further term extensions but also jeopardizes the democratic future of Somalia. The NCC, while a platform for dialogue, must translate its discussions into actionable steps towards credible elections.

In conclusion, the absence of election timelines in the recent NCC meeting is a concerning indicator of potential term extensions at both the FMS and federal levels. This situation underscores the urgent need for political leaders to prioritize democratic processes and deliver on their promises of one-person-one-vote elections. The future of Somalia’s democracy hinges on their ability to move beyond political calculations and commit to meaningful electoral reforms.

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