Lawmakers in a volatile region of Somalia elected the federal government’s preferred candidate as its leader on Wednesday after a popular former al Shabaab leader was barred from running in the vote seen as test of the country’s political progress. As part of an internationally backed attempt to end decades of lawlessness by spreading power more widely among the multiple clans, states are meant to be more independent of central government, with the authority to select their own leaders. But any sign that that is being subverted in practice or a sense that a leader is being imposed by stealth by the central government could further stoke instability and violence.
The determination by the Somalia federal government to influence the outcome of the Southwest State’s presidential election has raised doubts about whether the polls will still be held on December 19 having already been postponed three times. The election was initially set for November 17, but was pushed to November 28 and then December 5, due to what the government says is lack of equipment and ballot papers. However, experts on Somalia say that the government of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo is determined to get a friendly leader in Southwest State especially after the regional leaders threatened to suspend their cooperation with the centre in September.
Musa Bihi Abdi of the ruling Kulmiye party was declared the winner of Somaliland’s presidential election on Tuesday, by the election commission of the breakaway region. Situated at the northern tip of east Africa on the Gulf of Aden – one of the busiest trade routes in the world – Somaliland broke away from Somalia in 1991 and has been relatively peaceful since. The region of 4 million people has not been internationally recognized but it has recently drawn in sizeable investments from the Gulf. In the election, Abdi won just over 55 percent of the vote, while opposition leader Abdirahman Iro took nearly 41 percent, election commission chairman Iman Warsame said. Turnout was 80 percent.
Following Somaliland’s third presidential election on 13 November 2017, the 60-member mission, funded by Britain’s government and drawing on members from 27 countries is now finalizing its interim report to Somaliland’s National Electoral Commission as observers return to Hargeisa. Says chief observer Dr. Michael Walls of the Development Planning Unit (DPU) at University College London (UCL) and Somaliland Focus UK: “On election day, we are pleased to have observed a poll that in the main seems to have preserved the integrity of the electoral process. While we are aware of some key concerns, these do not seem to be substantive and systematic enough to have undermined the election itself, and we congratulate Somaliland on a largely peaceful process; another progressive step in their electoral evolution.”
Somalia: Somaliland 1st in World to Use Iris Scanner Technology to Stem Voter Fraud | teleSUR English
Somaliland, a semi-autonomous region of Somalia, was the guinea pig for iris-recognition technology at a presidential poll, according to election spokesman Saed Ali Muse. The self-declared sovereign state became the first in the world to use the scanners, which is the world’s most sophisticated voting register. Somaliland’s implementation of iris recognition devices follow incidents involving duplication of voters and other alleged fraud and logistic problems dating back to the 2008 elections.
Officials began counting votes in the self-proclaimed state of Somaliland after residents today took part in its third presidential poll, hoping to bolster its democratic credentials and strengthen the case for independence from troubled Somalia. The northern territory, which is more tribally homogenous and stable than the rest of Somalia, broke away in 1991 and has been striving to attain international recognition ever since, without success. As vote tallying began shortly after 6:00 pm (1500 GMT), a social media blackout was imposed. The national electoral commission said the move was necessary to prevent interference from outside the borders of the semi-autonomous state and speculation over the outcome.
Somaliland, the self-declared republic in northwestern Somalia, has announced it will restrict access to social media sites during its upcoming presidential elections. The electoral commission has asked phone companies to block more than a dozen social media outlets in order to limit hate speech and “fake news”. It includes Facebook, Twitter,WhatsApp, Snapchat, Viber, Flickr, Instagram, LinkedIn, Duo, Google Plus, among others. The commission blamed what it called “external forces” for spreading “inciteful and tribalistic” information (in Somali) and decried its inability to control the proliferation of these messages. As a result, the sites will be down starting from when voting ends on Nov. 13 up until the results are declared.
The Electoral Commission of Somaliland called for the internet to be turned off during the Presidential Election expected to be held on 8 November 2017, Garowe Online reports. “The commission has requested for the shutdown of the Internet access across Somaliland amid fears of violence during the election period,” said an election expert, who spoke to GO over the phone. “It’s the first time that three influence candidates are vying for the Presidency,” he told GO over the phone on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the Media.
Somalia’s Supreme Court has nullified several seats of the Lower House chamber considered to be rigged during the parliamentary electoral process in the regional states last year, Garowe Online reports. A total of 8 seats were ordered for re-contest for failing to adhere to the rules of the electoral process, ruling in favor of the appellants who filed for complains against the voting results.
Celebrations have erupted on the streets of Somalia after parliamentarians elected a new president, with crowds chanting songs and firing automatic weapons into the night sky. The election of Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, a 55-year-old former prime minister and dual US-Somali national with a reputation for independence and competence, has raised the hopes of millions of people in the poor and violent east African state. “I am really happy. I prayed hard. Now we have a good president. I hope he will take care of our country,” said Khadra Mohamud Ahmed, 42, from Mogadishu. Critics said the election – the most extensive and expensive democratic exercise in Somalia for decades – has entrenched divides between the country’s many traditional clans and encouraged graft. But others described it as a “way station” to political stability and full democracy. Michael Keating, the UN special representative for Somalia, described the poll as a “political process with electoral features”, and “pretty brave to do”.
After a series of delays, allegations of rampant corruption and the abandonment of a promise to return to true democratic elections, Somalia was expected to finally elect its president Wednesday. It will not be an election as the rest of the world knows it, however. Having been elected to lead the country’s first federal government since the toppling of its military dictatorship and onset of civil war in 1991, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud promised one-person, one-vote elections by 2016. They would have been the first of their kind in the country for nearly 50 years. But he announced he was abandoning the proposal in 2015 due to ongoing security concerns. Instead, the next presidential vote would be conducted via a complicated system decided by clan elders, he said. Last year, 135 clan elders began selecting the 14,025 delegates to comprise the 275 electoral colleges, each of whom began voting in October for an MP for the lower house of parliament. Together, with the 54 members of the newly created upper house chosen by Somalia’s new federal states, they will elect a speaker and a president.
Somalia’s capital Mogadishu was under security lockdown Tuesday, with roads and schools closed and residents urged to remain indoors a day before the country holds a long-delayed presidential election. Fears are high that the Al-Qaeda linked Shabaab group will seek to disrupt the election by carrying out an attack on the capital. Twin car bombs at a popular hotel left at least 28 dead two weeks ago. Heavily armed security personnel patrolled the streets of the capital, while several main roads were blocked off with sand berms and residents of the capital were urged by Mayor Yusuf Hussein Jimale to stay indoors. “My children did not go to school because of the election and my husband who works as a policeman had to stay on duty for the last three days. This thing is taking too long and people would be relieved if they could see an end to this drama,” mother-of-four Samiya Abdulkadir said.
Somalia will hold its presidential election on February 8, its electoral commission said Wednesday, after months of delays in a tortuous process for the conflict-torn country. Candidates will have until January 29 to register, the commission said in a statement. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, a 61-year-old former academic and activist from the Hawiye clan, is seeking re-election. The vote will come six months after it was originally set for August, following delays in the election of lawmakers because of clan disputes, fraud accusations and organisational challenges.
Somalia on Tuesday swore in new lawmakers after weeks of voting in a complex political process seen as its most democratic election in nearly five decades, despite significant flaws. The new parliament was inaugurated under tight security in Mogadishu two months after voting began. Lawmakers are expected to elect a president by secret ballot, however it was unclear when that would take place. The vote for president has been put off several times as a result of delays in the election of lawmakers due to clan disputes, accusations of fraud, and organisational challenges. Top election official Omar Mohamed Abdulle said 284 members of parliament were sworn in. Some lawmakers were absent while other seats were still subject to disputes.
Somalia has decided to delay its presidential election for a fourth time amid allegations of fraud and intimidation, an electoral official said Monday. The vote had been set for Wednesday, but the official said it likely will be Jan. 24 instead, though leaders were discussing the specific timing. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. This Horn of Africa nation is riven by clan rivalries and threatened by al-Shabab Islamic extremists opposed to Western-style democracy.
Somalia’s presidential elections, scheduled to begin this week, have been postponed for a third time, the electoral body said Monday. Omar Mohamed Abdulle, head of Somalia’s electoral body, said elections slated for Wednesday will not happen as planned. Abdulle did not offer a new date, but said the next president will be elected before the end of this year. Somalia’s parliament members will elect the new president. However, parliamentary elections to elect new lawmakers have not been completed in all regions of the country. The parliamentary voting was marred by irregularities and corruption, and Somalia’s electoral body is investigating allegations of election malpractice. Somalia’s auditor general, Nur Jimale Farah, told VOA’s Somali service earlier this month that some of the parliamentary seats were bought by the highest bidder.
With its security-sealed plastic boxes and cardboard polling booths, Somalia’s election –- under way since last month and still ongoing –- has the trappings of democracy, but few of the functions. Last week in the western city of Baidoa, 51 handpicked representatives of the Reer Aw Hassan clan took an hour to vote unanimously for Abdiweli Ibrahim Ali Sheikh Mudey, a current minister and the only candidate to show up on the day. Among Mudey’s backers were 15 enthusiastic female voters. “We selected the most beautiful man!” cheered one as Mudey smiled in his dark aviator sunglasses, a garland of purple tinsel round his neck. Just 14,025 of the Somalia’s perhaps 12 million citizens are voting for 275 MPs, who will join 54 appointed senators in voting for a new president, in an election described as “limited”.
Somalia’s electoral team failed to meet the September 24 deadline for the start of the elections of members of the Lower House, raising concerns the delay could affect the election of the president slated for October 30. By Saturday, the day polling stations were set to open in the regional capitals, the Federal Indirect Elections Implementing Team, FIEIT and its state level equivalent were still held up in a meeting to iron out contentious issues. The polls body said in a statement on September 21 that elders tasked with choosing the delegates who will elect members of the Lower House were yet to submit their lists to the electoral body even as it emerged clans were not willing to reserve seats to women in line with the poll procedures.
Somalia will hold a delayed presidential vote on October 30 with parliamentary polls starting next month, an official statement sent to AFP Monday said, in what international backers hope will signal a long-awaited return to stability. The UN-sponsored Somalia Federal Indirect Electoral Implementation Team (FIEIT) met with the leaders of the country’s regional governments along with the president to decide on the electoral calendar, it said in the statement. The FIEIT said parliamentary voting will be held from September 24 to October 10.
War-torn Somalia will not be able to hold full elections due next year, lawmakers said Tuesday, although it remained unclear whether some kind of voting process would still be held. The current President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and parliament were appointed by clan elders in 2012 with foreign backers promising full democracy in 2016, signalling an end to decades of chaos and instability.
Somalia: Somalia To Recruit National Independent Electoral Commission for the 2016 election | Somali Current
As required by the Provisional Federal Constitution of Somalia and in line with the recently passed laws on the National Independent Electoral Commission and the Boundaries and Federation Commission, Somalia is now urging qualified citizens to apply for the 18 vacant seats of the National Independent Election Commission (NIEC) and the Boundaries and Federal Commission (BFC); the deadline for applications to the two Commissions has now been extended to 30th March 2015. The Minister of State from Interior and Federalism, H.E. Abdirashid Hidig, said the Federal Government is committed to ensuring that the selection process is free, fair and transparent, with a strict process involving approvals by several committees, the Federal Parliament and finally the President of the Federal Republic of Somalia.
Somalia: ‘Registration of political associations open’: Puntland Election Commission | Garowe Online
The process for registering political associations has opened in Puntland State of Somalia, according to the Puntland Election Commission, marking the first time that political parties can be registered during the state’s 14-year history, Garowe Online reports. Mr. Mohamed Hassan Barre, chairman of Puntland Election Commission and a former minister in the President Siyad Barre’s central government, told a press conference Tuesday in the Puntland capital of Garowe that political associations are welcome to register with the election commission.
Somalia: Electoral Commission Releases Criteria for Candidates Running for President | allAfrica.com
The electoral commission announced the criteria for candidates running for president of Somalia, Garowe Online reports. Spokesman for the electoral commission Osman Libah Ibrahim held a press conference in Mogadishu on Saturday explaining the criteria for candidates running for president. The ten point criteria included that the candidate must pay a $10,000 registration fee before running for elections. The candidate must be a Muslim and age must be 40 or over and not have a criminal background.
The election of a new Somali president will not take place Monday as scheduled, newly appointed lawmakers said, but added they expected to convene the parliament for the first time later in the day. “The presidential elections will not be held today,” said lawmaker Aweys Qarni. “The election committee must still be convened…. There is still work to go before the presidential elections.” War-torn Somalia’s Western-backed transitional government ends its mandate on Monday after eight years of political infighting and rampant corruption. It is being replaced by new lawmakers selected by a group of 135 traditional elders in a United Nations-backed process, the latest bid to bring stability to the Horn of Africa country.
Somali leaders are on the verge of naming a new parliament that is supposed to elect a president by Monday, but it’s hard to find any ordinary Somalis excited by the political changes: They don’t have the right to vote. Monday marks the end of eight years of rule by a U.N.-backed leadership structure known as the Transitional Federal Government. Somali leaders this weekend are finalizing the names on a new 275-member parliament, whose members are supposed to vote in a new president. About 24 candidates are running for president. The president will then choose a prime minister. Many of the candidates for president – including current President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali and the parliament speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden – already serve in a government that has been hammered by corruption allegations. Behind-the-scenes political efforts involving bribes and intimidation appear to have marred the selection of the parliament. The U.N. has warned repeatedly of “spoilers” in the political process. “I don’t think there’ll be a difference because the same people are still here and the election may not be fair,” said Abdinur Yusuf, a Mogadishu resident. “We only care about stability, so we pray peace will prevail and corruption will come to an end.”
In a field of dozens of candidates, President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed is confident of re-election later this month. It’s a sign that while in many ways everything is changing for Somalia, in other ways nothing is. “I believe I am a strong candidate and I am very confident I will win,” the transitional leader said in an interview in Mogadishu. “We are coming to the end of the transition and beginning the process of full government for the first time in 20 years.” In Mogadishu’s corridors of power, all the talk is of “ending the transition.” The political jostling is frenetic. But widely reported corruption is dashing the hopes of many here.
Somali leaders have adopted a political “road map” for reforms that will culminate in elections within a year for a government that will replace a string of transitional regimes in a country blighted by conflict, instability and now famine.
The UN, which has been brokering a long-term solution, said Somali political leaders will carry out reforms on security, the constitution, political reconciliation and good governance. The planned reforms were recommended by a Somali preparatory committee last month, with polls expected by August 20 next year for members of a revamped federal parliament, local administrations and a president.
Somalia has been plagued by violence with no effective central government since the overthrow of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. The current transitional government came to power on the back of an US-backed Ethiopian invasion that drove out the Union of Islamic Courts, which has been replaced by more radical and militant Islamist groups, notably al-Shabaab.
A special ceremony marking the swearing-in of members of the Puntland Election Commission (PEC) was held at the Puntland State University campus in the Puntland capital of Garowe on Sunday, 17 July 2011.
The event was attended by the President of Puntland State of Somalia, H.E. Abdirahman Mohamed Mohamud (Farole), Vice President H.E. Abdisamad Ali Shire, Speaker of Parliament, H.E. Abdirashid Mohamed Hersi, among Cabinet ministers, Puntland parliamentarians, High Court judges, traditional elders (Issimo), religious scholars, business community, and civil society of Puntland.
President Farole’s 22-minute speech covered a range of topics, including the ongoing democratization process in Puntland and the role of PEC, the history of democratization in Puntland, the security situation and pardon for insurgents, insecurity in Mogadishu and south-central Somalia, the drought and the refugee exodus, and the expected Somalia National Consultation Conference.
Somalia’s feuding leaders agreed on Thursday to extend the mandate of both government and parliament for a year and hold elections by August next year.
The mandate for Somalia’s latest transitional government was meant to expire in August but President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, a former Islamist rebel leader, and speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, who covets the top job, had been at loggerheads over what should happen then.
“We agree to defer elections of the President and the Speaker and his deputies for twelve months after August,” a deal signed by the Somali president and speaker in Uganda said.