News / Africa

Somali Presidential Campaign About Politics, Not Public

New parliamentarians are sworn-in during an inauguration ceremony for members of Somalia's first parliament in 20 years in Mogadishu, August 20, 2012.
New parliamentarians are sworn-in during an inauguration ceremony for members of Somalia's first parliament in 20 years in Mogadishu, August 20, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
Gabe Joselow
MOGADISHU — After seating a new parliament, Somali political leaders are turning their focus on the next challenge: the election of a president. The campaign season is in full swing, complete with allegations of vote buying and corruption.

A cafe across from Somalia's National Theater in Mogadishu has become a gathering place for Somali intellectuals, students and politicians since security has improved in the capital.

The country's political transition and the election of a new president is the topic of conversation for many sitting in the shade and sipping coffee brewed in a coal-fired espresso machine.

Omar Ali Sheikh, an economist and long-time Mogadishu resident, says his choice for president is incumbent Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed who has led the Transitional Federal Government since 2009.

"He [has] experience now, what to do next," he says. "But the coming one, he don't know what to do, or where to start, he have to deal with that involvement. To learn that involvement takes him time, so we have not that time, we are already 21 years in this problem.”

But Ali will not have a say in the election. The vote will be conducted by the new parliament, after the appointment of a new speaker, expected some time next week.

Somali political analyst Abdihakim Aynte says the members of the current administration, including President Sharif, have a strong advantage, having overseen the political transition and being involved in the selection of the new parliament.

He notes that the president, the prime minister and the speaker of the parliament have all been accused of abusing their power.

“These are the three incumbent leaders who are, at the same time, running for president," said Aynte. "And, they have been alleged to be engaged in wholesale corruption in trying to use the public media and trying to use the government institutions as a tool for campaigning.”

But Prime Minister Abdiwelli Mohammed Ali argues that his work in office, overseeing strong security gains across the country and the difficult political transition, prove his success as a leader.

“If you had been here 10 months ago, you will see the difference of today, this is due to the fact that my government worked very hard to make sure that the country has been liberated, stabilized and [we] established a constitution for the country,” says Ali.

But the incumbents do have plenty of competition. Some 60 people have declared their candidacy to be Somalia's next president.

One presidential hopeful, former Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, better known by his nickname “Farmajo” enjoys strong public support, but has a rocky history with the current administration, after being forced to resign as a condition of an agreement to end the political transition.

Casting himself as an outsider, Farmajo uses this as his campaign pitch:

“There is an old saying that the definition of insanity is that if you do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. If the members of parliament elect or select the current leadership, nothing will change,” he says.

Other outside candidates also suffer from a lack of resources. Presidential campaigns around the world need money to succeed, but in Somalia, political insiders say vote buying is seen as another path to victory.

Allegations of corruption and influence peddling have plagued the transition process. The United Nations warned earlier this month of reports of politicians using intimidation to influence the selection of members of parliament.

But political analyst Aynte says another factor, even more important than money in Somalia, is clan affiliation.

“Still you cannot rule out the factor of clan here," he says. "Still you can argue that money plays a role. But I would argue that among everything, clan plays a critical factor in this election and it will play a huge role in this election.”

Aynte says it is important to pay attention the selection of the next speaker. If he or she comes from the Hawiyye clan of President Sharif then it could be that another clan will win the presidency.

Aynte will not make any predictions, saying only, “This election will be close and it will be tough.”

You May Like

Abuja Blast Impacts Lives, Livelihoods

Officials say they are looking at ways to help bombing victims and boosting security More

Cambodia Technology Adviser Criticizes Cybercrime Draft Law

Phu Leewood says current criminal code can be used to prosecute offenders and that there is no need for a separate law More

Photogallery A Year Later, Boston Remembers Deadly Marathon Bombings

City pauses to honor victims and salute emergency workers who came to their assistance in frantic moments after blasts More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid