Somali Electoral Woes Require a Lasting Solution

By Abdifitah Sugule

Garowe (Opinion) — If one looks at the last three Somali presidential elections in 2009, 2012 and 2017, recurrent electoral problems plagued the political landscape. The political solutions to those problems have been temporary.

The Somali Draft Constitution defines elections as a one person, one vote poll. The Constitution lays the stress on the people as the source of political authority exercised by politicians, and is premised on political accountability.

What are the recurrent electoral problems and past remedies?

1- Disagreements on the electoral model

2- In the absence of guidelines for electoral arrangements, the International Community intervenes  whenever the Somali political classes fail to reach an agreement on election matters.
3- Disagreements over the presidential term of office.
4- Disagreements over the electoral commission and criticisms about committees appointed by the incumbent government.
5- A rift between the Federal Government and Federal Member States emerges during the election season. 
6- Allegations about the independence of the electoral commission surface.
7- Bribes and  vote-buying have become a feature of Somali elections.
8- Electoral wards and selection committees  face security risks.
9- Disagreements over the selection of  MPs and Senators from Northern regions ( Somaliland).

Are Somali political leaders  able to find a lasting solution to the recurrent electoral problems? A social contract is the basis for governance. An agreement on how to conduct elections is urgently needed. Without such an agreement in place Somalia could plunge into political uncertainty and  face attendant security challenges

I call on President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed to organise a national conference to thrash out differences on electrical issues and arrive at a lasting solution in an inclusive manner. The aim of such an agreement will be a move away from indirect elections to one person, one vote elections.

By Abdifitah Sugule