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International Community calls for wide consultations on new poll options

Storyline:National News

The UN, UK and the EU have called for broad consultations to realise the electoral milestones set out by the electoral commission, NIEC after it emerged the country would not be heading for elections this year.

In separate tweets, the three the thanked the National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC) for the technical proposals presented by the commission’s chair Halima Yarey who noted the earliest Somalia could go to the ballot was March 2021.

“The UN in Somalia thanks the National Independent Electoral Commission chairperson Halima Yarey for presenting technical options to achieve direct voting for Somalis as early as March 2021,” UNSOM said in a tweet.

The UN said it was now time for ‘broad consultation among Somali political leaders to reach consensus on way forward – the planned meeting of Federal Govt. and Federal Member States is a good next step.

According to NIEC, elections can be held in March if manual voter registration kicks off in July while August could be the ballot day should parliament insist on biometric registration.

The UK and EU ambassadors echoed similar sentiments calling for political consensus even as  the opposition called for the disbandment of the elections body.

“EU joins UN in congratulating NIEC and its Chairperson for the presentation yesterday. We also insist on the need of political consensus based on agreed principles: opening of political space (from selection to election) and timely elections,” EU ambassador Nicolas Berlanga tweeted.

“In this sense,” Berlanga said, “March 2021 option seems technically more realistic, financially more cost-effective and better aligned with agreed principles.”

His UK counterpart held similar views.   Said UK ambassador Ben Fender, “Delighted to see NIEC confirm direct elections can be held in early 2021 with on-the-day voter registration (the more affordable model). Welcome plans for FGS-FMS Presidents to discuss soonest, with a view to broader consensus on the way ahead plus completing the parliamentary process.”

The NIEC delivered its shocker Saturday noting the earliest elections can happen is March 2021 but on condition that voter registration starts next week. The Constitution sets a four year term for Parliament and the Executive which will have lapsed in latest February when a new president ought to have been elected.

The opposition coalition Forum for National Parties (FNP) and Wadajir parties have separately called for the disbandment of the NIEC noting it was now ‘an appendage of Villa Somalia’.