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.
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

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs