Somalia’s political history has been tumultuous. It has been engulfed in electoral disputes and conflict between the incumbent and prominent opposition members for the past two years, threatening the country’s stability as a result of a term extension and what some analysts have dubbed an “illegal power grab.” The election is still unfinished to this day, and some members of parliament see no necessity to accelerate it.
On Thursday, the new members of the Senate and House of the People were sworn in, more than a year after the delayed elections that were marked by deadly violence and an attempted power grab by the incumbent president whose term in office ended 8 February 2021.
The scenes in the Somali Parliaments’ first meeting on Monday were chaotic. It was designed to be this way by spoilers who are supporters of President Farmajo. What do they want? Everything to stop for the 16 seats which they are fighting to steal if Ahmed Madobe is forced to hold the elections in Gedo. They also want to buy time for Fahad Yassin, Farmajo’s ally and financier, to compete for the seat of Deputy speaker of Parliament because he still has no clearance from the Election Commission. The unqualified Chairman of the Somali supreme Court Bashe was taught a legal lesson by the highly qualified State Attorney General Dr. Osman who told him he and the Supreme Court could not interfere in the Fahad Yassin seat because it was not a matter of constitutional law but political arrangement. Now Villa Somalia is worried and scared of the pace at which the Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on the election of the Speakers is moving the process.
The elected Chair of the parliamentary committee tasked to manage the election of the Speakers and deputies, Abdirizak Omar is a skilled technocrat who served as a Minister of Internal Security under the Hassan Sheikh government. He is also a two-term MP who understands the rules and processes of the House of the People. The timeline he and his fellow committee members have presented shows their commitment to getting the process done very quickly so that Somalia can finally end the delays of Farmajo and elect a new president. The spoilers in Parliament today knew the game was up and made a last-ditch attempt at prolonging the process which would have costed the Somali people all their international support and credibility. The election process is already late and behind schedule.
Spoilers and Kacaan-dreamers supporting Farmajo’s dictatorial ambitions and unitary state fantasies must not be given the chance to delay the process any longer because this poses a real threat to Somalia’s nascent democratic institutions and traditions.
As citizens, we are rooting for the election to conclude so that we can hold our elected leaders accountable every four years at the ballot box. Most crucially, the country’s previous leaders have realised and sustained this democratic norm which is not only a consent by right to rule but also morally right thing to do. Therefore, it is critical to the country’s state-building efforts that the uncertainty chapter is closed once and for all.
This election will not only determine who will lead the country, but it will also be important to restore the international community’s confidence that Somalia is serious to move on from the election quagmire and shift focus to other pressing challenges such as the fight against Al-Shabaab and the current humanitarian crisis which is killing our people and their livelihoods.
The best path toward sustainable peace in Somalia is through the rapid conclusion of these prolonged elections which risk derailing the progress Somalia has had over the years. According to the international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF, any further electoral set back risks starving Somalia of its international support and budget funds.
President Farmajo’s loyalists in parliament should know that the clock is ticking and the public’s patience has worn out. Rather than inciting chaos in parliament by using a delay and grandstanding tactic to avoid the election, MPs who favour Villa Somalia should peacefully lobby their fellow MPs to rally them behind their candidate of choice without resorting to unruly behaviour is unbecoming of an MP, and demeans their positions which we all know have been acquired through corruption, abuse of power and disregard of the election’s rules.
The contest for the Presidency is wide open but before we get there the Speakers of the Two Houses of parliament must be chosen so they can organise it. The quicker the Speakers can be elected the faster the process can go. Farmajo and his parliamentary allies and henchmen know this but so does everyone else. The time for the spoilers to side with Somalia over a former president who is dividing Somalia and its people is long gone.
Somalia is at a crossroads. For the sake of Somalia’s stability and security, Somalia’s parliament must complete the electoral process in a way that ensures the Somali people’s trust in the outcome.
Abdiwali Elmi can be reached at: Elmiabdiwali@gmail.com