Tougher Elections on the Cards in Somalia

100% increase of registration fees for prospective MPs and Senators heralds tougher Elections in Somalia, writes  Dahir Buwe, Puntland Post correspondent in Mogadishu

Mogadishu (PP News Desk ) —   Election fever is gripping Somalia. With less than four months left until February 2021, when presidential (s)elections will take place, assuming that no term extension gets expedited for federal institutions, tougher competition for the Upper House and Lower House seats will begin in Federal Members States.  The electoral agreement vests more powers with the five Federal Member States and Banadir region to determine who will become a Senator and an MP.

Harmonisation of the work the National Independent Electoral Commission and local electoral commissions is key to elections. Photo credit (Somali Public Agenda).

The 100% increase of registration fees for prospective MPs and Senators foreshadows what kind of legislatures Somalia will have once a Parliamentary Speaker is elected.

There is a better chance for the current crop of MPs and Senators to retain their seats partly because they may have saved for the steep registration.

The appointment and prospective MP or Senator by a traditional leader does not warrant the selection of a person as an MP or Senator. Federal Member States wield more power politically and financially. One of the articles in the agreement stipulates that Federal Member States have the final say on who will become an MP or Senator. This provision empowers state governments to override traditional leaders’ selections.

The 2021 elections will prove messier compared to 2017 elections, which were based on an electoral deal that was presumed to have been designed to give the incumbent an advantage over other contenders. The outcome of the 2017 elections had put paid to the surmise.

The incumbent Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed agreed to a poll model that undercuts his chances of being re-elected. President Mohamed banked on the abrogated Election Law that aimed to introduce an incongruously hybrid election, keeping the notorious 4.5 power-sharing system 4.5  to but conduct one person, one vote elections in some parts of Somalia. In 2017, he was the least favourite of the key contenders for Villa Somalia.

The sitting MPs and Senators have a better chance to retain their seats. They may have prepared for elections and be able to shell out the exorbitant registration fees. More than three people will contest for each parliamentary or senatorial seat and pay non-refundable registration fees. This will boost the coffers of Federal Member States. Much depends on how the work on the National Independent Electoral Commission and local electoral commissions could be harmonised.

© Puntland Post, 2020