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Somalia presidential vote: Who is running in the October polls?

LETTERS
By Hamza Abdulkadir Sadik | July 29th 2021

As Somalia Presidential election date approaches, attention has shifted to some of the factors that will influence the poll outcome and the candidates that will square it out at the ballot. The most salient factors that could decide the election include the Clan factor with candidates from the two major clans the Hawiye or Darod like to have an upper hand. With the current President from Darod, the calculation of many is that the next president will be from Hawiye. Here are some of the candidates in the race and their profiles ahead of the polls.

Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo:

Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, Incumbent President

Has the incumbency advantage with enough resources and network. His campaign slogan was about his distance from Ethiopia, his intent to expel Gabre from the country and fight corruption, that he was an honest patriot. These were the points of criticism his predecessor faced. Farmajo heavily campaigned on patriotism, with Ethiopia being his straw man. That card’s appeal has now fizzled out. On the other side of the coin, he is accused of having undermined federalism, fought with most influential Somali elites for the past 4 years, displayed authoritative behaviours; image dented by the allegations of sending Somali youth to Eritrea for security training and later on handed over to Ethiopia to partake in the Tigray war.

Hassan Sheikh Mohamud:

Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, 8th President of Somalia

A candidate with a deep understanding of the local dynamics having worked in the country for so many years, particularly in the education sector. Credited to have laid the foundations of the federal model during his tenure as the country’s 8th president - most of the federal member states were established during his reign. Somalis, however, accuse him of condoning corruption, turned a blind eye as people in his administration were involved in corrupt practices but none was prosecuted during his tenure.

Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed:

Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, 7th President of Somalia

Another candidate who has been described as an experienced warfighter, with most Somalis saying he has what it takes to deal with al-Shabaab having led the ICU to uproot the mafia warlords and later on liberated major cities from al-Shabaab rule. He served as the 7th President of Somalia from 2009 to 2012. He is the founder and leader of the Himilo Quran political party and also the founder and head of the Forum for National Parties of Somalia. Peacefully transferred power after he was defeated by Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in September 2012. He has less experience in governance and institutional building, but something that can be remedied through an appointment of a technocrat Prime Minister.

Hassan Khaire:

Former Prime Minister of Somalia, Hassan Ali Kheire

Another candidate in the October 10 election. He is described as a loyalist, who has worked with his boss very well to deliver Somalia’s debt relief decision point, a flagship project to strengthen the financial institutions and reconnect Somalia with the international market. On the flip side, he bears the incumbency baggage with his former bosses Hassan Sheikh and Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo. Many believe he was the architect of Farmaajo’s negative policy, particularly the strategy to undermine the federal institutions.

Abdulkadir Osoble Ali:

Abdulkadir Osoble Ali

A veteran politician who served in the federal parliament for so many terms and is currently, the Chairman of the sub-committee for foreign relations. He contested for the country’s top seat twice (2012 and 2017), but garnered a handful of votes to tilt the balance in favour of the winner. He’s well connected locally and internationally and has a good relationship with the federal presidents. Has enough resources to run a serious campaign. He Has a strong network and formidable political elites surround him. His network within the Somali community is unmatched and can hold people together. His oratory skills, articulation of issues and consistent advocacy, especially against the regime’s excessive use of force, the disappearance of the youth on the alleged training in Eritrea, opposition to unconstitutional term extension for the current federal leaders have earned him widespread adoration.

Abdikarim Hussein Gulleid:

Abdikarim Hussein Guled, Former President of Galmudug State of Somalia

He has a good understanding of the locals having worked with former President Hassan Sheikh before politics in the education and humanitarian sectors; Later on joined the HSM government in different portfolios before he was promoted to head the newly established Galmudug state of Somalia, however, he resigned prematurely due to political failure. He was also compelled to resign from the coveted Ministry of Interior and internal security due to a series of high magnitude terrorist attacks in the capital city.

Abdirahman A Warsame:

Abdirahman Abdishakur, Leader of Wadajir Party and Former Minister of Planning and Natural Resources

A former minister during president Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and ex-UNSOM political adviser has vast experience in governance and state-building. Unsuccessfully contested for the last federal election and by default assumed the official opposition role in the country for the past 4 years to check government excesses. He’s earned the mind of the citizens by consistently calling out the government’s extra-constitutional authority. He is alleged to have been involved in the MoU on maritime between Kenya and Somalia during his tenure as the minister for planning and natural resources, allegations he has vehemently denied this allegation.

Abdulkadir Sadik is a Mogadishu-based legal consultant, researcher and political analyst

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