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2021 - Somalia Elections

The presidential election is due 08 February 2021. Somalia is a federal parliamentary republic. President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed “Farmaajo,” following his election by a joint vote of the two houses of parliament in February 2017, led the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), formed in 2012.

Historically, no sitting president has been re-elected to lead the country. Newcomers like 44-year old Abdihabib Warsame faced an up-hill battle with plitical heavy weights like incumbent Faarmajo, seeking re-election and ex-presidents Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud and Sheikh Sharif Ahmed; former premier Hassan Khaire, former planning minister Abdirahman Abdishakur as well as former Galmudug president Abdikarim Guled, were all wishing to stage a come back.

Somalia is to take the lead on its security matters in 2021, and while the Federal Government has completed a concept note for updating the Transition Plan, force generation has faced setbacks in meeting 2020 projections, due to COVID-19. African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) police, which will play a key role in election security, are training their Somali counterparts on the mapping tools used in election security threat assessment. The lack of Somali security forces to take over areas currently under AMISOM control as a pressing issue that must be tackled, as the Mission’s ability to target Al-Shabaab is hampered by its need to continue protecting towns already liberated.

The president of Somalia signed an election law in February 2020, but it was incomplete because it did not define four key major portions – distribution of seats in constituencies, quota for women, allocation of seats for Mogadishu in the Upper House of Parliament, and modalities for electing lawmakers who will be representing Somaliland. So far two of those provisions, the quota for women and seats for Mogadishu have been approved by the parliament.

Somalia’s electoral commission announced 28 June 2020 that upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections will not take place on time, as scheduled. The chairperson of the National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC), Halima Ismail Ibrahim, has told the Lower House of the parliament that political differences, insecurity, flooding and COVID-19 have hampered the commission’s work schedule. The parliamentary elections were scheduled for Nov. 27; the president’s term ends on Feb. 8, 2021. Ibrahim said neither deadline can be met.

Somalia's parliament removed Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire by a vote of no confidence on 25 July 2020. Legislators voted 170-8 to remove Khaire. Mohamed Mursal Sheikh Abdirahman said "We urge Somalia's president to appoint a new prime minister.... The prime minister failed to establish national security forces to tighten security for the federal and state governments." President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, in a statement carried on state radio, said he had accepted the decision of the legislators to remove Khaire, citing the need to preserve the unity of the various arms of government.

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed on 18 September 2020 appointed a political newcomer to become prime minister, nearly two months after the country’s parliament voted out former Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire. Mohamed Hussein Roble’s appointment came hours after the president and five regional leaders reached agreement on a revised election model after days of talks in Mogadishu and international pressure. The president, who in February signed historic legislation giving ordinary citizens the right to vote in parliamentary elections, conceded to having the indirect elections preferred by regional leaders.

The new agreement calls for election preparations to begin November 1. Planners would determine dates in 2021 for choosing a parliament, whose members then would select the president, as in 2016. Mohamed, widely known as Farmajo, is expected to seek a second four-year term; his current term ends February 7. The elections agreement revised a plan reached August 20 by Mohamed and three of five regional leaders. It was rejected by leaders of Puntland and Jubaland. Regional leaders reportedly worried that registering individual voters would be risky, given insecurity in Somalia, and could prolong incumbents’ terms in office.

According to the new agreement, traditional elders, civil society leaders and regional authorities will select a federal map of 101 delegates from each state, who then will elect representatives to parliament. The plan likely will allow clans to retain more of the power that political parties had hoped to share.

The Somali political elite came together under the banner of a united opposition and were going against Farmajo. Many Somalis had high hopes for Farmajo when he won his first term as president in 2017. He has made some progress towards debt relief. He also brought federal states together to sign a historic national security policy to reform and integrate regional and federal military and police forces — although this has not yet been implemented.

But under President Farmajo's watch, tension between the central government in Mogadishu and the federal states has increased, analysts say. This center-periphery competition has absolutely been exacerbated under the Farmajo administration. The country seems to be more divided than than before. This was partly inflamed by federal government efforts to install its candidates of choice in regional legislatures — a move viewed by analysts as President Farmajo maneuvering to secure a second term.

After a November 2020 Mogadishu meeting by presidential candidates, they issued a joint communiqué demanding the urgent removal or resignation of the National Intelligence and Security Agency Director, Fahad Yasin. According to the opposition candidates, the NISA Director had taken on the role of chief campaigner for the incumbent president. In doing so, he had lost any credibility to continue heading the state security agency.

The mandate of President Mohamed Abdullahi, commonly known as Farmajo, expires on 08 February 2021. Somalia's president is elected by the country's lawmakers made up of 275 members of parliament and 54 senators. But Somalia has failed to hold the necessary ballot to chose new lawmakers, so no new president can be elected. Under its current indirect election system, 27,775 electoral delegates — who are nominated by traditional clan elders — vote for members of parliament while state legislatures elect the senators. The legislative and parliamentary votes originally scheduled for 2020, had been postponed twice because of wrangling over election details between the central government in Mogadishu and the semi-autonomous federal member states.

Farmajo convened an urgent 3-day meeting with federal state leaders 03 February 2021. The conference in Dusamareb, some 400 km (250 miles) north of the capital Mogadishu, was an attempt to break an election deadlock and avoid a constitutional crisis.

If federal and regional leaders failed to finalize the disputed electoral models, Somalia will enter and uncharted territory where we are going to have a president who will have no mandate and a parliament with no mandate. Even if federal and regional leaders reach a deal over the election model, it could quickly disintegrate in the same way that an election road map agreed to in September 2020 fell apart.

Somalia extended elections in both 2012 and 2016 without severe political fallout. Somali watchers fear, however, that this time is different because of the extreme lack of trust between President Farmarjo's government and the federal states and opposition groups.

Somalia's president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, known as “Farmaajo,” was under increasing pressure to make a deal on holding delayed elections. A two-day conference in late March 2021 failed to end the political standoff. The U.S. government has called on the leaders of Somalia’s federal government and regional administrations to work towards holding delayed elections in the East African country. The presidential and parliamentary elections which were supposed to take place in February but were postponed due to disagreements on the electoral process by Somali political stakeholders.

Somalia's Parliament extended its mandate and that of President Mohamed Farmaajo by two years, giving the incumbent some respite but creating a potential opposition from the international community and some aspirants. The decision was reached on 12 April 2021 after an emergency assembly of the Lower House saw some 149 MPs vote to extend their mandate with three voting against and one abstaining from the vote. The House usually has 275 MPs.

But then Somali lawmakers voted unanimously on 01 N=May 2021 to cancel the two-year presidential term extension they had approved last month, after clashes in the capital Mogadishu between factions of the security forces, which were divided over the issue. In a speech following the vote in the lower house of parliament, Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble ordered the army to return to barracks and urged politicians to avoid inciting violence. President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed's attempt to extend his term angered foreign donors, who had backed his government in an attempt to bring stability to Somalia after more than two decades as a failed state following a civil war that began in 1991. The political crisis raised fears that al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab insurgents could exploit a security vacuum if state forces split along clan lines and turn on each other. The group had taken over at least one Somali town in the past week as heavily armed fighters moved from the countryside into the capital city.

Somalia’s Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble committed to free and fair polls after he signed an agreement with regional presidents to allow indirect elections to take place. The development came on 27 May 2021, after months-long delays prompted a crisis. The deal said elections will be held within the next 60 days, with each region conducting the vote in two venues.

On 29 June 2021, after months of deadlock, political leaders in Somalia agreed that the country’s long-delayed presidential election will be held on 10 October 2021. The timetable scheduled elections for the upper house on July 25, and the lower house between August 10 and September 10. Both houses will then convene and a vote for the president will be held on October 10. Somalia had not held a direct one-person, one-vote election since 1969, the year Siad Barre led a coup and went on to rule for twenty years.

Somalia postponed elections that were due to start on 26 July 2021 after months of delays in the deeply unstable Horn of Africa country. Indirect parliamentary and presidential polls were due to open on July 25 with four days of voting for the upper house by state delegates. The election cycle was due to end with a presidential poll on October 10. "Even though the plan was the upper house election to start around the various states today, there is a delay, the election may not take place as planned," a member of the electoral commission told AFP on condition of anonymity. The delay was due to the fact that federal regions were neither able to submit candidates' lists in time, nor to form local committees to cast the ballots.

The US issued a startling threat to Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, better known as Farmaajo, after he attempted to remove from office Prime Minister Mohamed Roble, who was overseeing the country’s lengthy elections process. “The US is prepared to act against those who obstruct Somalia’s path to peace,” the US State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs said. The statement called Roble’s attempted suspension “alarming” and added that “we support his efforts for rapid & credible elections. All parties must desist from escalatory actions & statements.”

Farmaajo accused Roble of interfering in a probe into accusations Roble had stolen a piece of coastal property that belonged to the Somali Army by shuffling the Justice and Defense ministry portfolios and ordering the suspension of the Somali Coast Guard commander, Gen. Abdihamid Mohamed Dirir, the officer who brought the accusations against him. In turn, Roble accused Farmaajo of seemingly deciding to “destroy government institutions” and ordered “all Somali national forces to work under the command of the office of the prime minister from today.”

On 09 January 2022 Somali leaders announced they struck a deal to complete parliamentary elections by February 25, after repeated delays that have threatened the stability of the country. The agreement on Sunday was reached after several days of talks hosted by Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble with state leaders aimed at ending an impasse over the polls. “The ongoing election of the House of the People [lower house] will be completed between the periods of January 15 and February 25, 2022,” said a statement issued after the talks in the capital, Mogadishu.

The elected members of Somalia's parliament met on 15 May 2022 in a fortified airport hangar to select the country's new president in a vote that had been delayed for over a year. The members of parliament and senators who will choose the president were elected by delegates chosen by clan leaders. It had been hoped that the president would be elected by the people of Somalia under universal suffrage, but this plan was eventually abandoned by the country's political elite. Some 39 candidates are standing, including the sitting President Mohamed Abduhallahi Mohamed, known popularly as Farmajo due to his reported love of Italian cheese.

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Page last modified: 15-05-2022 16:46:08 ZULU