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Row over delayed presidential election escalates

African Union and UN warn politicians that their support will end without consensus on vote plan

On paper, Mohamed Abdullah Mohamed 'Farmajo''s presidential term will end on 15 February. But he shows no signs of vacating the post after plans to organise an indirect election for the job fell apart.

The country's five provinces have failed to reach agreement on the organisation of electoral commissions. Opposition groups say they will no longer recognise Farmajo as President after 15 February. 

Plans for a full general election for the presidency were abandoned in favour of an indirect vote by clan leaders, a messy process in which the winner, probably either Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed or Farmajo, would have to contend with polarised Federal States, a divided National Army, and multiple clan rivalries (AC Vol 62 No 1, Voting may not bring peace).

Farmajo will address both houses of parliament in an emergency debate on Saturday (13 February) and he may seek to extend his government's mandate, a legally possible option but certain to anger the opposition. 

After the parliamentary debate, the five regional leaders and Farmajo may meet on 15 February, with international partners joining as observers, to discuss the way forward. But the terms of that meeting, whether it will be held in Mogadishu or Puntland, are also being fought over.

Opposition leaders in the Council of Presidential Candidates, say the conference can be held only if Farmajo attends as a candidate and not as a Head of State.

In a joint warning on the need for consensus, the African Union and the UN said that 'any alternative outcomes, including a parallel process or partial elections, or other measures short of an agreed electoral process, would be a setback that would not obtain the support of partners.'

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