Beyond This Farce of an Election, Somalia Will Not Mend

Somalia’s much-anticipated presidential and parliamentary elections are proving to be a farce and are a sign that the people will once again be betrayed by their leadership and should not expect much from the new government that will be elected.

None other than Somalia’s Auditor-General, Nur Jimale Farah, has told the Voice of America’s Somali service that the ongoing elections have “no credibility because of vote buying, fraud, intimidation, and violence”.

Farah claims that the more than 14,000 so-called “Electoral College” delegates who are voting for members of parliament are choosing the highest bidder; votes are apparently being bought for between $5,000 and $30,000 each.

It is likely that, as in past elections, very few of the candidates will be parting with their own money to pay these bribes; funds for bribe-giving are usually solicited from rich Arab countries that are known to sponsor their preferred candidates.

Voter registration

Somalia’s much-anticipated presidential and parliamentary elections are proving to be a farce and are a sign that the people will once again be betrayed by their leadership and should not expect much from the new government that will be elected.

None other than Somalia’s Auditor-General, Nur Jimale Farah, has told the Voice of America’s Somali service that the ongoing elections have “no credibility because of vote buying, fraud, intimidation, and violence”.

Farah claims that the more than 14,000 so-called “Electoral College” delegates who are voting for members of parliament are choosing the highest bidder; votes are apparently being bought for between $5,000 and $30,000 each.

It is likely that, as in past elections, very few of the candidates will be parting with their own money to pay these bribes; funds for bribe-giving are usually solicited from rich Arab countries that are known to sponsor their preferred candidates.

Real authority

Most Somalis rely on charities or entrepreneurs for services such as health and education.

Somalia does not even have a national curriculum for its schools.

Somalia’s army is weak and underfunded, and since 2007, the Somali Government has relied almost exclusively on African Union forces for security.

Corruption allegations

The first post-transitional government, of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, was elected in 2012 amid much hope and optimism, but like previous governments, was mired in corruption allegations.

President Mohamud did not manage to unify the deeply fragmented country. On the contrary, regional entities operate largely without any reference to Mogadishu.

Some of these so-called “federal states” are nothing but clan-based enclaves run by thugs or warlords.

The new constitution, which reinforces clannism by insisting that power be distributed among the four major clans, has disenfranchised minority groups (the so-called 0.5s) that have historically been discriminated against.

International recognition

The self-declared independent state of Somaliland has boycotted the ongoing elections altogether as it does not consider itself to be part of Somalia.

Somaliland has been seeking to gain international recognition since 1991, but without much success.

So, how can Somalia emerge as a country that has a functioning government that delivers peace, unity, stability, and services to its people?

If I had the answer to this question, I might have won the Nobel Prize for Peace.

The president

What I do know is that, left to their own devices, without foreign interference, the Somalis may just come up with a home-grown solution.

However, let us also not forget that the last time Somalis tried to come up with a home-grown solution in the form of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), it was quickly ousted from Mogadishu by US-backed Ethiopian forces. The ouster of the ICU led to the formation of Al-Shabaab, which has since wreaked havoc in Somalia.

Even when the former head of the ICU, Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, was anointed as the president of Somalia in 2009, Somalia failed to rise from the ashes.

Therefore, the elections this year are not likely to significantly change the fortunes of this shattered country because Somalia remains broken at so many levels.

Rasna Warah is a writer and editor with more than 20 years of experience.

Source: The Citizen (Tanzania)

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