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Somali Candidate Warns Lawmakers of Alleged Bribery

  • Peter Clottey

New Somali parliamentarians pray during an inauguration ceremony for members of Somalia's first parliament in 20 years in Mogadishu, August 20, 2012.

New Somali parliamentarians pray during an inauguration ceremony for members of Somalia's first parliament in 20 years in Mogadishu, August 20, 2012.

A Somali presidential candidate urged lawmakers not to be influenced by alleged vote buying as they prepare to elect a new president Monday.

Ahmed Samatar, who is also a parliamentarian, expressed hope that the legislators will vote for the most competent aspirant to help solve the country’s challenges.

Twenty-five of the declared presidential candidates were allotted 20 minutes to talk to lawmakers, though some candidates exceeded their time on Friday and Saturday.

Samatar praised the process leading up to the election in spite of a few technical glitches.

“It has really been easy and comfortable and well done. Everybody has his time at the podium, to articulate their vision about where the country needs to go, what kind of public policy priorities they will undertake [and] that was done well,” Samatar said.

But in an open letter, U.N. envoy to Somalia Augustine Mahiga urged legislators to choose a president who can lead what he called “the next four years of transformation and peace-building in Somalia.” Mahiga also noted media reports of bribery and corruption in the process, adding that “wrong or right, the truth will come out one day.”

Samatar said he is aware of the bribery allegation, but denied being a part of it.

“We have never been part of that, neither do we have money to give to people and try to corrupt them. But, even more importantly, even if we had bundles of cash, we will not do it because it is against my principles and against the principles of our party,” Samatar said.

“But there is great deal of talk and I think significant amount of evidence that some of the candidates had been flushing money into the market; some of that money from their own pocket, most of it from overseas and from interested parties in [by] trying to influence Somali political leadership,” he said.

Samatar expressed hope that the lawmakers will not be persuaded by money to vote for a candidate who, he said, will not serve the country’s interests.

“Our hope is that members of parliament or at least a vast majority of them are people who have a conscience,” Samatar continued. “They will vote on Monday on what they think is the best for this country, and that is someone who has a clear vision; who has a record of accomplishment and who can unite the people together, and move Somalia away from the chaos, self-destruction, internal mess and corruption.”

The speaker of parliament Mohamed Sheikh Osman told VOA the election will be free and fair and urged all lawmaker to elect someone who can lead the country.

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