Somalia - 2012 Elections
In August 2012, elders representing all the clans in Somalia nominated 275 members of Parliament. The MPs elected a Speaker before electing a President in September the same year. The Federal Government of Somalia, formed in 2012, was led by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. Clan elders nominated the members of the House of the People of the Federal Parliament in 2012. Parliament elected Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as president later that year. Former Transitional Federal Government (TFG) president and presidential candidate Sheikh Sharif described the presidential vote as fair and conceded defeat.
On 20 August 2012 some 215 of the total number of 275 Members of Parliament were sworn in, comfortably passing the benchmark of 185 which allowed for the New Federal Parliament to convene with a functioning majority. The inauguration ceremony, held at the Mogadishu International Airport, was attended by the President, the Prime Minister and the current Speaker of Parliament. Mr. Mussa Hassan Abdulle, a former army general was appointed interim Speaker of the NFP. Careful selection resulted in high number of university graduates, relevant professional experience and a significant number of women although, the agreed upon quota of 30% was not reached.
The parliament was due to select a new speaker on August 26 and a new president sometime after. The country's constitution minister says the current president and government will continue to serve in a care-taking capacity until then. After seating a new parliament, Somali political leaders turned their focus on the next challenge: the election of a president. The campaign season was in full swing, complete with allegations of vote buying and corruption. The vote wwould be conducted by the new parliament, after the appointment of a new speaker. The members of the current administration, including President Sharif, have a strong advantage, having overseen the political transition and being involved in the selection of the new parliament. The president, the prime minister and the speaker of the parliament had all been accused of abusing their power.
Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, an academic and political moderate, was elected president 10 September 2012 in an unexpected landslide victory over the incumbent president of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. The election was part of UN plan to create an effective central government in Somalia, after two decades of chaos and fighting. His victory came as a surprise to many observers in Mogadishu who had predicted an easy win for the incumbent President of the Transitional Federal Government Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. Members of parliament, voting anonymously, chose Mr. Mohamud over Mr. Sharif in the second round of voting, giving him 190 votes compared to 79 for the incumbent president. After coming in second behind Mr. Sharif in a first round of voting, two other candidates, including the incumbent prime minister, dropped out of the race and threw their support behind Mr. Mohamud.
President Mohamud will serve a four-year term in office. The new president is 56 years old and a lifelong civil society activist. With a background in education, Mohamud was one of the founders of the Somali Institute of Management and Administration Development in 1999. In 2011, he became the first chairman of Somalia's Peace and Development Party. Before the election, Mohamud said it is important for Somali politicians to look beyond the clan lines that divide the country. “In a clan setting, you can only produce a clan leader; you cannot produce a national leader. Here, in the political parties, we intend to produce national leaders. Our main focus is that," he said.
United Nations Special Representative to Somalia Augustine Mahiga said the election brought a decisive end to Somalia's transition period. He said “Somalia must now focus on stabilization, reconciliation, and building sustainable and accountable institutions.”
The al Shabab militant group had been hard-pressed by military offensives launched by UN and government forces, as well as by Kenya. The group had once controlled nearly all of the capital Mogadishu. That caused hundreds of thousands of people to resettle in the Afgooye corridor outside of the city. But many have now returned. In Mogadishu, there’s a very large-scale problem of people who had been displaced, who were displaced by the famine last year and also people who’ve returned to Mogadishu. So there are 340,000 people just in Mogadishu living in very, very poor conditions. One million Somalis were still living as refugees in the region with more than half in Kenya.
On 25 October 2014 by Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed announced a cabinet reshuffle, reportedly targeting a Minister close to the President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who rejected the changes, asserting that the Prime Minister had not consulted him. On 6 November, parliamentarians supporting President Mohamud submitted a no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister. After some delay owing to disruption caused by parliamentarians who opposed the motion, Parliament reconvened on 2 December to consider the motion, along with several key items on the legislative agenda.
On December 06, 2014 the Somali parliament voted to oust Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed, making him the second prime minister removed by lawmakers in less than a year. The no-confidence vote was the result of tensions between the prime minister and President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud over a cabinet reshuffle. Ahmed got only 80 votes in his favor, compared to 153 votes to throw him out.
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud named a new prime minister 17 December 2014, amid international pressure to end chronic political infighting. The president appointed Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke to the post in a ceremony at the presidential palace in Mogadishu. Sharmarke, who must be approved by the Somali parliament, would be Mohamud's third prime minister in the past two years. Sharmarke was currently Somalia's ambassador to the United States. He previously served 18 months as prime minister in 2009 and 2010 under a different government.
Somalia's prime minister dissolved his 60-member cabinet on 19 January 2015, the day it was to face a confidence vote in the federal parliament. The prime minister had 14 days to propose a new cabinet and to seek a confidence vote in the divided legislature. Among the problems that lawmakers had with Sharmarke’s list was the inclusion of former ministers and senior officials previously accused of incompetence.
The Somali parliament approved a new cabinet on 09 February 2015, just hours after gunmen shot and killed one of its members. Abdullahi Qayad Barre was gunned down in the Hamar Jajab district of the capital, Mogadishu. Barre was on his way to parliament when he was shot dead in his car at a busy intersection. The attackers escaped the scene, and the al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the shooting. The new cabinet consists of 66 members, most of whom are members of parliament.
The Federal Government initiated dialogue with leaders of existing and emerging regional administrations. From 4 to 6 February 2015, the first meeting of senior federal and regional leaders on federal issues was held in Mogadishu. In attendance were the Federal President, the Federal Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Federal Parliament, Mohamed Sheikh Osman Jawaari, the President of Puntland, the President of the Interim South-West Administration, and the Leader of the Interim Jubba Administration, Sheikh Ahmed Mohammed Islam “Madobe”.
On 7 May, the Juba Regional Assembly was inaugurated in Kismaayo, Juba Hoose, amid criticism from some parties over inclusiveness. On 6 June, the Federal Parliament passed a motion to “terminate” the Juba Regional Assembly, a decision that was rejected by the Interim Juba Administration.
The Federal Government of Somalia accelerated efforts to advance the process of building a federal state. However, on 28 July 2015, the Federal Parliament passed a resolution indicating that a country-wide “one-person-one-vote” election would not be possible in 2016 owing to delays in the political process and remaining technical and security challenges, confirming the consensus that had emerged among key stakeholders. On 15 August, the Federal Government circulated an action plan setting out arrangements for national consultations to agree on options for a yet to be defined “electoral process” to replace the current members of the Somali Federal Government and Parliament when their terms expire in 2016.
Political tensions re-emerged when, on 12 August, Members of the Federal Parliament submitted a motion to the Office of the Speaker for the impeachment of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. The motion, signed by 95 Members of Parliament out of a total of 275, accused the President of extensive corruption, infringement of the Constitution and poor leadership. A swift resolution appeared to be unlikely. International partners called on the Somali federal institutions to maintain their unity and cohesion and to focus on the priorities set by Somalis for the wider peace process.
The first plenary session of the National Consultative Forum on the electoral process in 2016 took place in Mogadishu on 19-20 October 2015. Participants in the National Consultative Forum agreed that the current circumstances do not yet allow for one-person one-vote elections and that in their absence, an indirect election should be held (short of one-person one-vote elections).
Somalia is well advanced in its political and security transformation from failed to recovering state. When UNSOM started in 2013 the Federal Government was corralled in Mogadishu. Across the rest of the country was a patchwork of different local power-holding arrangements, with no tangible link to Mogadishu, little in the way of governance institutions and with many entire districts under the control of Al Shabaab.
By 2015 a new Somalia with a new political map had emerged. Three new Federal Member States would shortly join Puntland as foundation stones of the new Federal Somalia. The fifth will be formed from Hiraan and Middle Shabelle and, while recognizing important recent progress. The national consultations were to lead to an electoral process in 2016 that will be conducted on time and be more inclusive than in 2012.
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