Political organization

Possibilities for Progress in Post-Election Somalia – The Organization for World Peace

May 15e, the United Nations in Somalia welcomed the conclusion of the national election, praising the “positive” electoral process and the peaceful transfer of power as Hassan Sheikh Mohamud prevailed over Mohamed Abdullahi “Farmajo” to become the new president of the Somalia. James Swan, the UN secretary-general’s special representative for Somalia, said he “would like to congratulate newly elected President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on his victory tonight”, while UN secretary-general António Guterres, expressed hope that the new president would form quickly. an inclusive cabinet and that the new government and federal states work closely together to advance key national concerns. From the effects of climate change to the need for long-term political stability, the Hassan administration has its work cut out for it. From this election, what chance is there for meaningful progress in Somalia?

Annite Weber, European Union Special Representative for the Horn of Africa, insists on the need for Somalia to first build a political settlement. It states that “a settlement forms the basis of agreement on issues related to the federalization process and the rule of law. It would also lay the groundwork…for constitution-making and state-building. Weber believes that this settlement could serve as a basis for Somalia to strengthen its security apparatus, ensuring its armed forces a smooth relief from the peacekeeping mission of the African Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).

Weber also emphasizes the need to foster economic growth to enhance government legitimacy. Michael Keating, executive director of the European Institute for Peace, agrees with Weber, specifically emphasizing the need for economic growth and market development to achieve stability.

While these prescriptions may be valid, it is important not to lose sight of the realities on the ground from a Somali perspective.

President Hassan inherited many challenges from his predecessor, including an increase in terrorist attacks by the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab group. In March alone, two suicide attacks killed 48 people in central Somalia, while an attack on an AU base in early May killed ten Burundian peacekeepers. Al Jazeera reports that the attack was the “deadliest raid against AU forces in the country since 2015”.

The UN, meanwhile, has predicted that the current drought could trigger a humanitarian catastrophe comparable to the 2011 famine, which claimed 260,000 lives, unless immediate action is taken.

The Hassan administration must also address the damage caused by internal political struggles, both at the executive level and between the central government and state authorities.

The scope of these challenges is arguably greater than any election or administration and will require continued efforts beyond the ballot box.

Contrary to the optimism of world commentators, sentiment in Somalia has been remarkably weary. Despite the peaceful transfer of power, most of the 36 presidential candidates were old faces, seen by many as having done little to stem the war and corruption. This leaves Somalis feeling that money changing hands, rather than the vote of the people, is what determines political power.

Contemplating the Somali electoral system only seems to justify this fear. The clan elders choose the delegates, who then select 275 members of the House of Representatives and 54 members of the Senate. Once nominated, these lawmakers vote to select the next president, who in turn chooses a prime minister. The prime minister then forms a government by appointing a cabinet.

Analysis of this system clearly shows that even after this peaceful election, Somalia remains in the hands of clan elders and political elites. Meanwhile, the masses continue to resent a system that hasn’t had a one-person-one-vote election in decades.

Given this evidence, Somalia likely has a long way to go before it can achieve a political settlement that represents the people, resolves disputes among an island elite, and lays the foundation for a credible security apparatus. Without this settlement as a foundation, the degradation of the climate, the rise of terrorism and the stimulation of economic vitality will continue to be major concerns, not only for Somalia, but for the entire Horn of Africa region.

Although the situation is grim, it is still possible to find silver linings. Not only did the election end peacefully, but more importantly, former President Mohamed Abdullahi offered his support to the incoming administration. In his concession speech, Mohamed said his successor faced big obstacles and called for unity. “Let us pray for the new president, it is a very tedious task,” he said. “We will stand in solidarity with him. This shows an appetite for political reconciliation, while Somalia’s international partners seem committed to cooperation. This optimism and teamwork are needed on Somalia’s long road to stability.