MOGADISHU — Somali opposition parties and the United Nations have welcomed Thursday's meeting among five federal member states which will discuss upcoming elections, security and review of the constitution. In separate statements, the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) said the meeting which will take place in Dhusamareb, the capital of Galmudug state, is crucial since it will iron out pressing national priorities that will move the country forward.
"UNSOM welcomes planned federal Member States (FMS) leaders' meeting in Dhusamareb, a prelude to the upcoming federal government-FMS summit and part of the essential dialogue on pressing national priorities, including elections, security, and review of the Constitution," it said on Wednesday.
Sources said the outcome of the Dhusamareb meeting will be very crucial for the planned national security forum scheduled in the capital Mogadishu on a date yet to be confirmed. President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo had scheduled July 5-8 as the date for the crucial talks with regional leaders. However, the meeting did not take place. The Thursday meeting is expected to agree on the contentious issues surrounding the election model as well as the options presented by the electoral body on June 27.
The National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC) stated that it will not be possible to hold elections this year. NIEC said it requires 13 months to prepare a credible poll where Somalis will have an opportunity to take part in "one person, one vote" election for the first time since 1969. The opposition Forum for National Parties, led by former presidents Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, has also endorsed the Thursday meeting but faulted the absence of leaders from Mogadishu.
"The FNP advises the leaders of the Federal Government of Somalia to fulfill their constitutional mandate in order to enable the conduct of free and fair and peaceful elections," FNP said in a statement. The Horn of African nation was due to hold parliamentary elections in October while presidential polls will take place in February 2021.
The meeting among the federal member state leaders comes amid pressure from the international community to bring national and regional leaders together ahead of the 2020-2021 polls. Somalia, with the help of the international community, is making urgent preparations for universal suffrage elections. Parliamentary and presidential elections took place in late 2016 and early 2017 through a system of indirect suffrage.