Somali people gather on the street during fighting between Somali government forces and opposition troops
FILE - Somalis gather on a street during fighting between Somali government forces and opposition troops over delayed elections in Mogadishu, Somalia, Feb. 19, 2021.

MOGADISHU, SOMALIA - Somalia's president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, known as “Farmaajo,” is under increasing pressure to make a deal on holding delayed elections. A two-day conference this week failed to end the political standoff.

The U.S. government has called on the leaders of Somalia’s federal government and regional administrations to work towards holding delayed elections in the East African country.

The presidential and parliamentary elections which were supposed to take place in February but were postponed due to disagreements on the electoral process by Somali political stakeholders.

Somalia ready for elections

Minister for Information Osman Dubbe said the government is ready for the polls once concerned stakeholders can resolve their differences.

He was speaking after a two-day election summit concluded without progress because leaders from the regional states of Puntland and Jubbaland did not attend.

Dubbe said it was very unfortunate that the leaders from Puntland and Jubbaland didn’t attend the significant meeting. We hope they will join the crucial forum tomorrow on Wednesday to take part in the key discussions including election security, he added.

Abdirahman Abdishakur, leader of the opposition Wadajir party, dismissed the election summit convened by President Farmajo, saying he has no constitutional mandate to summon such a forum.

Opposition parties say the mandate of the president and the federal government of Somalia expired last month.

“The FGS mandate is over, therefore other key stakeholders must be part of the meeting and the venue has to secured by neutral forces, i.e AMISOM, and there must mediator and guarantor and the agendas has to be agreed,” Abdishakur said.

Al-Shabab a concern

Security analyst Ahmed Hassan said militant group al-Shabab may try to exploit the political environment.

“The political crisis regarding the elections has diverted Somali leaders from their security responsibilities, hence giving militant groups an opportunity to carry out attacks as we have seen what happened in Bosaso on 4th March where al-Shabab raided the main prison, releasing dozens of inmates affiliated to the militant group,” Hassan said.

Hassan said another concern is that security forces might be used to intimidate the opposition in the upcoming elections. Opposition officials have accused the government of preparing to do that, though the government has denied the allegations.

Meanwhile, the U.N. office in Somalia urged further informal consultations in coming days to ensure full participation in the election talks.