Somalia: Kingmakers in the Presidential Election.
Kingmakers in the Presidential Election
The Somali presidential election slated to take place on 8 February is the toughest election Somalia will have seen. What makes it different from the 2012 election is the popular consensus that the return of the incumbent president will undo all that has been achieved so far despite security challenges and dependency on AMISOM. In a speech to his supporters Abdirahman Abdishakur, a presidential candidate, said people in Mogadishu lost confidence in government courts and prefer to have their property disputes settled in Al-Shabaab courts.
In 2012 there were no corruption allegations levelled against contenders, but selections of federal MPs foreshadowed corruption in the election particularly in constituencies where President Hassan SheikhMohamud’s core Damuljadiid loyalists rigged the selection process and denied influential females to be elected MPs.
Horseed Media, an influential news website reported that at a party thrown up by President Mohamud’ssupporters a member of the electoral committee, AbdullahiSheikh Ismail who is also a member of Upper House, came out in support of President Mohamud. Somali Presidential candidates have called for the resignation of Ismail from the electoral committee. Another website, puntlandi.com, reports that Ismail’s speech was edited to give the impression that he supports the re-election of President Mohamud.
Twenty-four candidates, including the incumbent president, have each paid US$ 30,000 election fee half of which will be donated to drought relief initiatives. A former president, a former prime minister and an incumbent prime minister are among the candidates.
Unlike the 2012 election, both the senators in the Upper House and MPs in the Lower House will cast a secret ballot.
The three kingmakers in the election are the Southwest State MPs, the Fifth Clan MPs and an alliance of MPsfrom the north and the south mistakenly labelled Somaliland MPs. President of Southwest State, SharifHassan, who is thought to have handpicked Southwest State’s federal MPs, has not openly supported any presidential candidate. He may support his former colleague and co-member of the Alliance for the Reliberation of Somalia, the former president of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. He might throw his MPs’ weight behind the incumbent president, who promised him a consultative role in the formation of the next federal government. He might help the incumbent prime minister, Omar A. Sharmarke, realise his dream to become a president. Sharmarkepromised Sharif Hassan full support before the election of Mohamed Sheikh Jawari as a federal parliamentary speaker had put to an end Sharif Hassan’s candidacy.
Fifth Clan MPs, made up of representatives from minority clans ( aka Others ) are not politically invisible kingmakers. So far, no presidential candidate has proposed a political programme to protect rights of minorities who, unlike the other four clans in the power-sharing mechanism, have no a federal state. A presidential candidate who vows to rectify the political inequality that subjected some Somalis to third clan citizenship will not only show exemplary civic-mindedness but will deepen an agenda to reverse the political marginalisation of minorities, an outcome of the Djibouti-sponsored reconciliation conference in 2000.
MPs from “Somaliland” have met several presidential candidates but have not supported any candidate in public. In 2012 the Somalilandgovernment claimed it had an input in the election of Hassan SheikhMohamud as a president. The elder northern statesman in Mogadishu, Jama Mohamed Qalib said: “Somalia needs a new political leadership not beholden to either Kenya or Ethiopia”. Somaliland opposition party chairman Faisal Ali Warabe told the media that “Somaliland should keep an eye on the Somali election as some anti-Somaliland politicians are seeking the Somali presidency”.
The Somali kingmakers in the forthcoming election have different agendas. That is why the Somali presidential election is the toughest and the most unpredictable contest for Villa Somalia.