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Farmaajo stands on shaky ground as Somalia goes to the polls on Sunday

By David Okwembah and Fowzia Mohamoud | May 12th 2022 | 3 min read
Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo. [Reuters]

On Sunday, May 15, 2022, Somalia presidential elections will take place, as announced by the Presidential Election Committee led by the Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble, after numerous hurdles, including insecurity and deaths of sitting MPs, as well as aspirants. The election coincides with the anniversary of the Somali Youth League the first Somali political party, established back in 1943.

Besides addressing the spiral of insecurity brought by Al Shabaab, the election will also be decided on finalising the constitution, strengthening government institutions, reconstructing the economy and restoring law and order. 

Undeniably, the resurgence of Al Shabaab, which has caused death and mayhem, is one of the key issues that will shape this election. The group recently attacked an AMISOM, now renamed African Union Transition Mission in Somalia in El Baraf area of Middle Shabelle.

This election could herald a new dawn for Somalia since the formation of the Transitional Federal Government led by President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed (2004-2008). 

The presidential candidates that had registered by the Tuesday deadline stood at 39. They are all focused on getting the highest seat after paying the requisite fee of $40,000, to be on the ballot. It is highest number of presidential candidates ever recorded in Somalia’s history.

The candidates most likely to emerge Somalia’s next president are the incumbent Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, two former presidents Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, former PM Hassan Ali Kheyr, Puntland president Saeed Abdullahi Deni and Wadajir party leader Abdirahman Abdishakur.

The only female candidate is Fowsiyo Yusuf Haji Aden, a former Foreign Affairs minister and former deputy PM. It is the first time a female candidate is running for the highest. It is a candidature worth watching.

Chances of a newcomer winning is not impossible, as happened in 2012 with former president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. Typically, Somalis are known for ushering in a new candidate with no tainted and terrifying history.

The race to occupy Villa Somalia is definitely not be an easy one. Many candidates are lobbying to sway the public through social media. Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud is leading, ahead of the incumbent Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo by few votes followed by Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Saeed Abdullahi Deni, according to opinion polls. All these can change in the coming days.

President Farmajo stands on a shaky ground after some of his allies lost crucial seats in parliament. The opposition seems to have an advantage it won the elections of both Speakers; the lower and upper houses –Sheikh Aden Madobe and Abdi Hashi respectively.

Unfortunately, Somalia’s current political power structure is built on the 4.5 clan model in which, the four largest clans share the majority of parliament seats while the minor clans get half. Ever since its adoption, the dominant clans have been elected to the highest positions; president and prime minister.

As the 329 MPs and Senators gather at the Aden Abdulle airport hangar on Sunday to pick the next president for the country for the next four years, they will have to think deep on who is the best candidate to move the country forward.

Mr Okwembah is a journalist. Ms Fowzia is a consultant

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