article comment count is: 0

Somalia elects a new president: Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo

Somalia went to the polls to vote for a new president yesterday and the country has elected Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo as the new leader. A former prime minister, Farmajo won the election after two rounds of voting by members of parliament. He beat incumbent President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who conceded. Somalia remains deeply divided across clan lines, and corruption and insecurity remain its most serious concerns. The new president faces a daunting task and the transfer of power presents an opportunity to work towards peace and consolidate security.

In what seems to be a final push towards democracy in Somalia after long years of fighting and unrest, Somalis were able to vote in a new president. The system of voting was not universal, one-man one-vote. Members of parliament voted, and elected the new president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo as the new leader.

System Of Voting

Following a strong clan based system in Somalia, the voting process started with the clan elders. One 135 clan elders elected 14,025 elders from different clans and regions. The 14,025 delegates then formed the body that elected two hundred and seventy five Members of Parliament and fifty four Senators. These elected MPs and Senators numbering 329 would be the ones to choose the new president.

This is where the secret ballot box would come in play. The top three candidates with the highest votes undergo an elimination process. More rounds of voting take place. The highest two candidates move on to the next round. Then the candidate with the highest vote is the elected president. A candidate needs two thirds of the votes so as to be declared president.

Members of Parliament from the Federal parliament queue to cast their ballots for round two during the presidential election held at the Mogadishu Airport hangar on February 8, 2017. Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo was elected the new president of Somalia. AMISOM Photo/ Flickr/Ilyas Ahmed.
Members of Parliament from the Federal parliament queue to cast their ballots for round two during the presidential election held at the Mogadishu Airport hangar on February 8, 2017. Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo was elected the new president of Somalia. AMISOM Photo/ Flickr/Ilyas Ahmed.

Candidates

Of the 23 candidates contesting for the presidency, one was a woman, Fadumo Dayib, but she dropped out due to corruption in the elections. All other candidates were men, some of whom were former presidents and prime ministers of Somalia. A large number of candidates worked with the United Nations (UN). Most interesting is that 16 of the candidates have dual nationalities. What’s considered most important is that the candidate is Somali and Muslim.

Voting at the Airport

After cases of corruption and insecurity were reported to the electoral commission, the venue for elections was moved from the police academy to an airport in Mogadishu. The airport is where the UN has most of its offices. The police academy was considered a biased and compromised venue. The commander of the police had made utterances that showed his loyalty to one of the presidential candidates.

The outgoing Somalia president Hasan Sheikh Mohamud makes a concession speech at the Mogadishu Airport hangar on February 8, 2017. Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo (second right) was elected the new president of Somalia. AMISOM Photo/Flickr Ilyas Ahmed
The outgoing Somalia president Hasan Sheikh Mohamud makes a concession speech at the Mogadishu Airport hangar on February 8, 2017. Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo (second right) was elected the new president of Somalia. AMISOM Photo/Flickr Ilyas Ahmed

Money and Corruption

The election is not a test of the moral fibre of the politicians, but corruption is a major issue. Transparency International recently released a list of corrupt countries. Somalia was ranked as the most corrupt, and this election just confirmed that. Cheques worth thousands of pounds and dollars were issued by various presidential candidates to various MPs. According to Newsweek, the Auditor General said vote buying is a common practice in the country with some votes going for $5,000, $10,000, $20,000 or $30,000.

Tell us what you think