Somalia opens consultative talks on security, delayed polls

New Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble, a Swedish-trained civil engineer, sits after Somali members of Parliament approved his appointment in Mogadishu, Somalia, on September 23, 2020. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP) (Photo by STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)

Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Roble Monday opened national consultative talks aimed at speeding up the delayed electoral process.

The Office of the Prime Minister said the meeting brought together the presidents from Jubbaland, HirShabelle, SouthWest, Puntland, Galmudug and Banadir Regional Administration.

“The meeting mainly focuses on security and the expeditious conclusion of the elections of the House of People,” Roble’s office said in a brief statement.

The latest meeting comes amid a stand-off on elections and corruption allegations after President Mohamed Farmajo attempted to suspend Roble’s powers.

But the prime minister dismissed the suspension and faulted President Farmajo for seeking unconstitutional means to stay in power after his four-year term ended a year ago.

Already parliamentary elections which kicked off in November 2021 had been suspended after only 24 out of 275 lawmakers have been elected.

The country’s electoral body had set December 24, 2021, as the deadline for completion of the parliamentary elections. The government and five leaders of the federal member states resolved last year to be holding the national consultative meetings to accelerate the electoral process.

The 54-member Senate and the 275 members of parliament from the Lower House are expected to jointly elect a new president in early 2022.