Hundreds of people marched through the central Somali town of Beledweyne to protest over a joint proposal by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and Somali government to form an interregional state for Hiiraan and Middle Shabelle regions.
Elders have subsequently pushed back last ditch effort to select t the proposed state’s congress before the presidential election, dealing a potential blow to the government’s push in breaking the standoff which heaped worries that it would interrupt the country’s upcoming election plans.
Somali government has recently announced that the horn of Africa nation would hold a presidential election on October 30.
The protestors including local politicians, elders and residents who chanted anti-IGAD slogans have singled out the bloc, accusing it of interference in the process to form an interregional state for the two regions, a move they said does not serve their ‘best perceived interest’.
Friday’s protests echoed similar objection by elders in the neighboring Jowhar town who accused Somali government of attempting to play a political ‘game’ with them by trying to trick their members into a ‘vague’ political path.
No comment could be reached from Somali government on the development which underscores challenges facing its efforts aimed at spreading the new federalism system initiative across the country.
Political analysts have earlier pointed out complexities surrounding the state’s formation process, given lack of consensus, mistrust and rivalry among clans in the two regions.
Despite facing arrays of criticism, the UN-backed government had promised of ensuring to develop a ‘fair’ and ‘comprehensive process, in an effort to form an ‘inclusive’ regional state.
The Mogadishu-based government which aims to complete the implementation of the federalism system throughout the country before the horn of Africa nation heads for presidential elections which is due to take late October signaled its willingness to convince elders to return to negotiating table.
According to Somalia’s Provisional Federal Constitution, adopted in 2012, the mandates of the Somali Federal Parliament and of the Government would come to an end in August and September 2016, respectively.
The government had earlier dismissed likelihood of holding a popular presidential vote due to security challenges.
The country still faces security challenges posed by the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Shabab group which continues to carry out violent guerrilla attacks including suicide attacks and assassinations across large parts of the country.