Can the newly ‘elected’ Somali govt ensure sustained peace, security?

Somalia's new president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who was elected after a marathon vote by lawmakers on Sunday, is a former academic and peace activist whose first administration was dogged by claims of corruption and infighting.

What you need to know:

  • Mr Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, a former head of State (from 2012 to 2017) soundly beat the incumbent, Mr Mohamed Abdillahi Farmajo, in the final run off after elimination of the other 34 candidates, with at least 210 votes out of the 328 votes cast, against Farmajo’s 110 votes

The Federal Republic of Somalia, on Sunday the 15th of May, 2022, finally conducted presidential ‘elections’ after a rather long drawn and at times chaotic process, whereby the country’s legislative arm (Somalia has two house of Parliament i.e. the upper chamber, the Senate, with 54 members and the lower House of the People with 275 members totalling 329 members) constituted the ‘voters’ of the hopeful 36 candidates.

The 329 members of the Legislature were themselves selected (apparently with some tidy sums exchanging hands) under a rather complex power sharing clan structure aptly named 4.5 (which essentially constitutes Somalia’s 4 main clans and many diverse minority communities) by elders, who are the ultimate representatives of the various clans to which each “elected’ member, belongs.

Mr Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, a former head of State (from 2012 to 2017) soundly beat the incumbent, Mr Mohamed Abdillahi Farmajo, in the final run off after elimination of the other 34 candidates, with at least 210 votes out of the 328 votes cast, against Farmajo’s 110 votes. These elections were initially slated for the earlier months of 2021, but due to a number of differing reasons, President Farmajo, being a rather shrewd politician, managed to force through a delay, which benefited his personal  political ambitions, to the chagrin of his many rivals. Some seasoned Somali political experts are now directly blaming Farmajo’s big loss for this particular delay.    
Suffice to note that this particular election cycle is the third (2012, 2017 & 2022) to be held within the defined international borders of the Somali Republic, which is undoubtedly a very credible and progressive political development, especially in contrast to the many other initiatives led by the International Community held in Kenya and Djibouti.
The Government of Somalia, as currently constituted is a fully-integrated, recognised, fairly credible and to some extent functioning entity since the 2012 elections, which coincidentally were won by Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who back then was a completely unknown Name in the political space. 

The government runs an annual budget, which they raise through internal sources, which it mainly uses to pay salaries of public servants including members of the armed forces, however, the International Community, through the gazillion NGOs and the various agencies of the UN, still play an unacceptably big role in providing public goods like education and health services.

There is currently much optimism surrounding this progress, as evidenced by the ever-increasing number of returnees to Somalia who are mainly engaged in commerce, the rebuilding of a shattered infrastructure and, of course, politics, and there are now even multiple daily flights in and out of Mogadishu to various destinations including Entebbe, Nairobi, Addis Ababa, and Istanbul, among others.
The international community has a vested interest in a stable, secure regime largely due to the effects of terrorism which is undoubtedly a major threat not only to Somalia, but also wider Eastern African Region and of the world over.
 
Al-Shabaab, a dreaded bunch of religious zealots, have over the years visited untold suffering among the innocent folks. AMISOM, an African Union-led multi national force, which among others includes the gallant UPDF, has played a fantastically impressive role in helping neutralize the security threats, even though the barbarians unfortunately still control large swaths of territory.

Regardless of the above reality checks, one thing is for sure at the moment: there is untold optimism, at least for now, among virtually all Somalis, whether within the country or in the diaspora, that finally they are about to take their rightful place among the nations of the world.
                Abdi K. Hussein,         Kampala-based lawyer         and Consultant.             [email protected]          @Bosssandere  
 

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