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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say 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.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid