ELECTORAL CRISIS

Why Somalia needs interim government ahead elections

Undemocratic Somalia is a danger to itself and to the international trade and commerce.

In Summary

• When a government can’t be trusted, the consequences are inevitable

• After that, establish a universal One Person - One Vote election rule for all upcoming polls and an independent judiciary and constitutional court.

Somalia President Mohamed Farmaajo chairs the National Consultative Forum meeting in Mogadishu where The Baidoa Technical Committee makes its presentations on elections recommendations on March 23
Somalia President Mohamed Farmaajo chairs the National Consultative Forum meeting in Mogadishu where The Baidoa Technical Committee makes its presentations on elections recommendations on March 23
Image: VILLA SOMALIA

After months of confusion, tension and political theatre, leaders in Somalia have agreed the country’s long-delayed presidential election will be held on October 10.

President Mohamed Farmaajo and the leaders of Somalia’s five states were unable to agree on the conditions and stipulations of an election prior to his term elapsing in February, prompting a period of uncertainty over the country’s future.

This political uncertainty led to a cycle of violence on the streets of Mogadishu when Parliament unconstitutionally announced a two-year extension to President Farmaajo’s term in April.

The move was vehemently condemned by the US and the European Union. This backroom parliamentary shakedown was leading Somalia back to the brink of another civil war.

Under incredible pressure from internal and external actors, President Farmaajo reversed the extension and reconvened with state leaders to map a transparent roadmap to a free and fair election.

But here’s the thing. Based on what we already know, how can the people of Somalia possibly trust that the new process will be fair?   Based on what we have already seen, how can the people of Somalia be assured that the shady dealings of the current government won’t continue?

The unfortunate answer is that our shared experiences have taught us that it would be reckless to place any amount of trust in the current PM and leaders of federal states to do the right thing. It would be unwise to assume that this election could be pulled off without the levels of deception and manipulation we have seen in the process.

And without full transparency, we all know what the outcome will be because we have already witnessed it first-hand and close-up.

In June, Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s party coasted to a landslide victory despite fervent opposition claims of vote rigging and intimidation of the opposition (the same allegations being levelled against the Farmaajo administration).

And when a government can’t be trusted, the consequences are inevitable – as they were in Ethiopia. Political tensions explode and thousands of people die in ethnic and civil violence, not to mention the fact that foreign investors start to question the ability of the government to assert any level of containment over the inner turmoil.

This disorder needs to be avoided at all costs in Somalia.

But because of the extent of the distrust that exists in Somalia, and the extremely tight election timeline we need to consider other options. One is the installation of an interim government failure to which there is risk of leading the country into more political instability or, worse, another civil war.

For the safety and security of the people, an interim government is the only viable option. This interim government could be established with a simple, but critical mandate.

After that, establish a universal One Person - One Vote election rule for all upcoming polls and an independent judiciary and constitutional court. These are the hallmarks of a democracy and the formation of these tenets cannot be disputed.

Our parliamentarians are elected to represent the people. And it is part of a basic understanding that each person who casts a vote is equal to the voter. This is the most essential element of a democracy - the people’s rule, and they do so with equal political authority.

The current election is measured by clan formula of 4.5, which is unconstitutional and illegal.

In-direct elections do the opposite of democracy as the MPs are elected to represent their respective clan rather than their constituency.

Likewise, a judiciary and constitutional court independent of the state must be established to prevent the chronic corruption inherent in Parliament. Any attempt to create these institutions by the current administration should cast meaningful doubt on the impartiality of the Judiciary.

Two years ago this month, President Farmaajo’s office announced that he is renouncing his US citizenship, a decision seen by some as an attempt to win support ahead of election this year. Behind closed doors, Farmaajo's campaign is believed to be funded by Qatar, Iran and Russia in an attempt to increase their influence in one of the world's most significant geostrategic locations on the planet.

This should be a wake-up call to the people of Somalia and to the world. And we must do everything we can to prevent any more of this double-dealing chicanery that always seems to be perpetrated under the cover of darkness.

I call for the installation of an interim government for Somalia to get it right. History has shown, time and again, that an undemocratic Somalia is a danger to itself and to the international trade and commerce.

Ismail D. Osman

Writes in Somalia, Horn of Africa Security and Geopolitical focusing on governance and security

Former Deputy Director of Somalia National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) and the co-author of Mogadishu Then & Now  

You can reach him at: [email protected]