Somalia: ‘Calm’ election marred by corruption and violent incidents

The Special Representative to the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) to Somalia Michael Keating has described the ongoing parliamentary election in Somalia as “well organised” and “calm”. 

Mr Keating was speaking last week after visiting the Southwest capital of Baidoa, as part of an international delegation observing the electoral process.

“What is very moving is to see Somalis voting. It may not be a universal franchise election, but it is still a powerful signal of Somalia’s determination and ability to organize a process and, I hope, accept the results,” Mr Keating said.

‘Dispute between two clans’

Gunfire was reported on Nov. 18th in Jowhar, capital of the newly formed HirShabelle administration. A number of persons were wounded as bodyguards of rival MP candidates exchanged gunfire near the election hall.

The shootout compelled election officials to temporarily suspend the Lower House elections. An international delegation visited Jowhar on November 20th, meeting with HirShabelle state president Ali Abdullahi Osoble, election officials and local elders.

According to the UN mission in Somalia, “SRSG Keating and Ambassador Madeira [Special Representative of the African Union Commission Chairperson – SRCC] negotiated a settlement in a dispute between two clans” in Jowhar.

The election officials are expected to resume Lower House elections in the coming days, the statement added.

‘1.3 million dollar parliamentary seats’

The VOA reported that some parliamentary seats were costing candidates $1.3 million USD in vote-buying and bribes. Under Somalia’s 2016 electoral model, 51 delegates vote for each parliamentary seat, compelling candidates to offer bribes to voting delegates in a bid to win the parliamentary seat. 

The VOA interviewed Nur Jimale Farah, the country’s Auditor-General: “Some votes were bought with $5,000, some with $10,000, and some with $20,000 or $30,000. But not all seats are equal. Some are influential seats and have a lot of candidates competing for them”. 

Mr. Farah described incidents in the state capitals, where the election rules were broken, by keeping delegates and candidates outside the voting hall, and in some cases, candidates “took their own fake delegates into the election hall to vote for them”.

Through an indirect election process, Somalia is electing a 275-member Lower House and 54-member Upper House of federal parliament. The country’s next president is expected to be voted in by a joint session of federal parliament next month.

Source: Somali Review