Major opposition parties in Somalia are against the decision by the electoral body to postpone the 2020 elections, citing possibilities of inter-clan violence.

The parties have interpreted the June 27 announcement by the National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC) as a conspiracy to extend President Mohammed Abdullahi Farmaajo’s term.

The Wadajir Party headed by leading government critic Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsame, the Forum for National Parties (FNP), a coalition of six parties led by former presidents Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, and the Somalia Welfare Party argued that the NIEC announcement was influenced by Villa Somalia.

Somalia was scheduled to hold parliamentary elections in December and presidential elections in February, but NIEC chair Halima Yarey announced in late June that the country will not conduct the one-man one-vote in time.

She gave two options; either the country follows the constitution that requires a biometric voting system or embarks on manual voter registration.

Mohamud Mohamed Mohamud, chairman of Welfare Party, a retired academic who wants to contest the presidency, told The EastAfrican that the NIEC announcement is mere delay tactics by Villa Somalia. Wadajir Party Leader Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsame called for resignation of the NIEC for failing to execute its mandate.

His Wadajir Party, in a separate statement, said the NIEC has lost its neutrality, which would allow it
to consult all political stakeholders in equal terms.

President Farmaajo has repeatedly assured the country that his administration is determined to hold a one-person-one-vote after FNP raised the alarm that he was intending to take advantage of the pandemic to extend his term.

On May 28, Prime Minister Hassan Ali Kheyre instructed ministers to focus on ensuring the 2020/21 elections were held on time. “Holding a timely election is more important than anything else at this time and it’s one of the primary goals which the public entrusted us,” Mr Kheyre said after a Cabinet meeting.

But the Farmaajo administration has the challenge of convincing other stakeholders that the postponement of the elections is not part of a plan to continue its term in office.