Matt Bryden Knows Less About Somali Electoral Politics

By Jama Ali Rugte, Nairobi

Sahan is a conflict research boutique founded by Matt Bryden on account of his past work at War-torn Societies Project in Somalia of 1990s. He claims to have a deep knowledge of Somali clan politics. Bryden is on the same league as that of some self-styled researchers who win contracts from donor countries to write on Somali politics.

In Nairobi, it is the norm that new graduates of European stock get jobs from such conflict entrepreneurs as International Crisis Group. Several years ago, Matt Bryden formed Sahan to pontificate on Somali politics. In Somalia he is persona non grata.

Matt Bryden thinks Somaliland has 70 seats in the bicameral legislature of Somalia.

His latest tweet on the selection of the electoral chairman for Somaliland seats betrays ignorance on Somali electoral politics. “With approx. 70 parliamentary seats at stake, it’s essential that the election of candidates from #Somaliland be free, fair and transparent. Boycott by Senate Speaker’s caucus renders the process partial, exposes rigging and should invalidate it” tweeted Bryden.

Somaliland does not have 70 seats in the bicameral legislature of Somalia. What Matt Bryden conflates is the total number of Dir clan’s seats and the number of seats from Somaliland within the “70 seats” Bryden refers to in the tweet.

The Speaker of the Upper House Abdi Hashi has no special privileges to solely oversee the selection process for Somaliland MPs and Senators. The consensus approach to this issue emphasizes a joint chairmanship of the process under the Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Guled and Abdi Hashi.

If Matt Bryden had paid attention to the make-up of electoral seats for Somaliland MPs and Senators, he would hesitate to express a tweet-based opinion on the selection of the Chairman for the process to elect Somaliland MPs and Senators. I don’t blame Matt Bryden for promoting himself as a seasoned analyst on Somali politics. He is a man who fronts the donor countries’ mantra to employ graduates who are still wet behind the ears in the hope of letting them cut their teeth in conflict-ridden politics of some African countries, writing reports that accentuate stereotypes and valorize identity politics.

The prolonged conflict in Somalia spawns an analyst industry that thrives on disinformation, and funded by key donor outfits such as EU and other European countries’ aid agencies.

By Jama Ali Rugte, Nairobi