Somalia: Farmaajo congratulates Northeastern State on holding direct elections

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MOGADISHU, Somalia – Outgoing President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo hailed Northeastern State for holding the first local elections by universal suffrage since its formation in 1998, following a peaceful exercise that ended on Monday.

Since 1969 (with the exception of the breakaway region of Somaliland), Somalia has never held direct ballots, instead it has continuously practiced indirect ballots, commonly referred to as Model 4.5. It is this model that the country wants to abolish.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the outgoing Somali leader congratulated the people of Northeastern State, adding that the elections in Qardho, Eyl and Ufeyn districts were a demonstration that Somalia can improve the democratization process.

He spoke by phone with leaders of political associations who competed at the polls, noting that their sacrifice and acceptance of the results was a major indicator that Somalia will indeed make great strides in the years to come.

His statement came moments after Northeastern State President Said Abdullahi Deni accused Farmaajo of being a stumbling block to credible and transparent elections in Somalia. He also questioned Farmaajo’s silence.

“Farmajo’s reluctance to praise Northeastern State’s universal suffrage election is an indicator of his misguided intention not to hold elections in Somalia,” Deni said. He noted that Farmaajo has failed to embrace free competition in the country.

Following the October 25 municipal elections in Northeastern State, two political associations – Mideeye and Justice and Equality formed an alliance to form local councils in Qardho, Eyl and Ufeyn. This came after the Kaah party led by Deni’s Kaah party won 35 seats out of the 87 possible seats.

Northeastern State is set to deploy similar exercises across the region as it seeks to expand its democratization process, which was initiated by former President Abdirahman Farole, who is now a senator in the federal parliament.

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