Somalia indirect elections foreshadow clash of two federalisms

By O.D. Hassan

Political reporter

Mogadishu (PP Analysis) — Like all elections, Somalia’s indirect elections could be understood in numbers. The 4.5 powersharing system gives each of the five Somali clans 20% chance to win the presidency.

Introduced nearly twenty two years ago in Djibouti, the it gives more political opportunities to only two clans. The 2022 indirect elections might break this pattern by either eliminating one or both clans from executive positions (presidency and premiership) if the other three clans play their cards astutely.

President Farmaajo has rolled back powers that federal member states assigned themselves to act like a sovereign state.

Of all presidential candidates, Puntland State President Said Abdullahi Deni seems to have a political advantage over his rivals. He banks on the votes of one of the five clans, thanks to his masterminding of the selection of MPs and Senators from Puntland while influencing selection of MPs and Senators from Jubaland, where he persuaded Jubaland President to turn his back on the electoral agreement that gives Gedo the privilege to conduct election of a group MPs from Jubaland.

No Somali political leader has so far strategized as skilfully as President Deni. Even if he eliminates the incumbent President in the first round Deni has 50% chance to win the presidency if he faces a candidate from the ‘duopoly’ clans (a phrase coined by Professor Ahmed Ismail Samatar) in the second or third round. Deni is expecting to receive less than 5% of votes from an alliance of clans knowns as Others; 20% from Dir clans and 15% from Hawiye; 2% from Digil & Mirifle, and 90% from Darod clan.

President Deni of Puntland State of Somalia backs a form of federalism that checks in powers of the federal executive branch and the bicameral legislature.

A non-duopoly presidential candidate could beat Deni either in the second or third round. Puntland President campaigns on a duopoly supremacy ticket although the incumbent President of Somalia is technically classed as duopoly member, but with a wider support basis. UAE and Kenya are allegedly bankrolling Deni’s campaign. In 2021 he credited Kenya with remarkable contribution to state-building efforts in Somalia. Yesterday, he met DP World executives in Dubai. In 2021 Deni initially co-formed political ‘salvation’ alliance made up of two quasi-religious cliques: Damuljadid (of which he is a member) and Aala Sheikh (headed by Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, a former President). The alliance faltered after Deni declared his candidacy for Villa Somalia.

President Deni governs a federal member state that is both southern and northern geographically, but knows he cannot achieve a lot without having stronger ties with Hirshabelle, Southwest State and Galmudug states whose leaders are not seeking the highest office of the state. Politically, Deni stands for a form of realistic federalism that grants federal member states powers to enter agreements with foreign companies. Since Somalia is dependent on foreign peacekeepers, it is misleading the assume the bicameral legislature and the executive branch have the legitimacy to legislate without the imprimatur of federal member states, Deni’s argument goes. This vision of national governance runs counter to what he describes as statist federalism (aka strong centre) espoused by the incumbent President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed.

The 2022 Somalia indirect elections revolve around those two rival leadership philosophies for a fragile state — Somalia. How the 60% constituencies vote will decide which political program will sweep to an indirect election victory.

© Puntland Post, 2022