Regional feuds and clannism to decide Somalia election


Sour relations between Mogadishu and some of its federal states could determine the outcome of the 2020 presidential elections in Somalia which will be held with little progress on constitutional reform.

Insecurity has all but ruled out President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo’s promise of elections based on universal suffrage leaving the easily manipulable clan-based system to pick the fragmented country’s next leader.

A parliamentary committee recently released the long waited report on the election modalities for 2021, which found that Somalia cannot hold a one-person-one vote ballot because of time constraints and absence of nationally endorsed constitution. The Somalia parliament is expected to endorse committee recommendations in the next few weeks.

Abdulaziz Ali Ibrahim Xildhiban, the former adviser of Internal Security Ministry and Spokesman of Federal government of Somalia, said that President Farmaajo’s re-election strategy had a one-person-one vote system as its main plan.

The absence of an elections dispute resolution mechanism, the insecure environment and the lack of widespread election participation by all Somalis is said to have informed parliament’s expected rejection of universal suffrage in favour of the 4.5 clan system.

Underneath the lack of these essential factors to a credible election is the stalled constitution review; itself a hostage of political instability and infighting between federal member states and federal government.

“The constitutional reviews involve genuine dialogue among stakeholders and requires a leadership that is committed to reconciliation, which is currently missing,” said Abdallah Ahmed Ibrahim, the director of the East Africa Centre for Research and strategic studies.

He said consultation with regional states, opposition leaders, civil society and Somali public “have not been fully adhered to.”

Key to President Farmaajo’s re-election is relations with two federal states — Jubbaland and Puntland — who resist a centralised system being imposed on the 2012 Provisional Constitution which provides for a federal system.


Mr Xildhiban said the differences between the centre and the periphery appears personal because relations between regional and federal institutions were still cordial.

“The deteriorating relations is based on attitude of the federal government leadership. Institutions at the two levels are functioning well despite federal government leaders’ insistence on isolating the member states of Puntland and Jubbaland,” he said.

President Farmaajo has infuriated incumbents by supporting friendly candidates against the “rebels.”

Regional states have vote quotas through which MPs elect the president as a block, according to the interests of the respective regions.

The regional leaders had suspended their co-operation with Mogadishu in September last year, accusing President Farmaajo of undue interference in their states’ affairs, failure to defeat Al Shabaab and going against the 2012 constitution in order to consolidate power.

So far, President Farmaajo enjoys the support of president of Hirshabelle State, Mohamed Abdi Ware. Hirshabelle was the last state to be created and its option to co-operate was founded on its weak grip on its territory.

In December last year, President Farmaajo’s efforts to secure the regions was boosted by the victory of former energy minister, Abdiaziz Andullahi Mohammed in the South West state.

He is currently engaging Puntland and Galmudug states with the intention of isolating Jubbaland that is ruled by his nemesis, Ahmed Mohamed Islam commonly known as Sheikh Madobe.

President Farmaajo could also face a new challenger with diplomats intimating that Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire, his close ally, could also have a shot at the presidency.

President Farmaajo became the second person from the smaller Daroot Clan to win against the majority Hawiye Clan.

For his re-election, Farmaajo is counting on economic reforms, the war against corruption, efforts at neutralising Al-Shabaab and standing up for Somalia’s territorial integrity.

He has weeded out ghost workers and reduced wastage in the finance ministry, enabling timely payment for civil servants, but the war on corruption is far from being won.

Negotiations with the International Monetary Fund for $$5.3 billion in debt-relief would be a major fillip if they succeed before the elections.


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