The regional election in Somalia’s South West state slated for mid-November could be delayed after the head of the electoral body and his team quit, with the United Nations warning a delay could cause violence.
Although the head of the electoral body, Arfo Ibrahim, said he resigned due to “personal reasons”, analysts say he did so after interference from some of the candidates in the South West regional presidency.
Local leaders and elders are meeting in Baidoa, the state’s capital city, to find a solution. Some leaders are advocating the postponement of the regional presidential election which was due to take place on November 17th while others want the election to happen as originally scheduled.
Reports say the speaker of the South West Assembly is being pressured to resign to further put the election in jeopardy.
However, the federal government said the election should take place as scheduled.
“We hereby demand from the South West leaders to make sure that the regional election takes place on November 17th as planned,” a statement released by the Interior Ministry said.
The region’s president, Sharif Adan, is facing a tough competition in his re-election bid from a pool of more than 10 candidates including Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansur, a former Al-Shabab deputy leader.
The United Nations Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) warns that the latest development could lead to violence, and urged state leaders to work together to ensure that the election proceeds in accordance with the established rules.
“With this election being the first in a series to be held in the country – both at the regional level next year and national level in 2020 – there is a real need to set the precedent for credible and peaceful electoral process,” said Nicholas Haysom, the UN Secretary-General Special Representative for Somalia. “I am confident that, in keeping with their tradition, Somali leaders will find a solution, through dialogue, to the issues surrounding this electoral process. An electoral process that is transparent, enjoys broad consensus on the rules governing its conduct, and is free from irregularities can only promote widespread acceptance of the results, and avoid violent confrontations at or after the poll,” added Haysom.
Somalia’s other state governments will hold their elections in 2019.