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 Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid