On October 21st the last four senators were elected to the Upper House of the Somali parliament, paving the way for the next phase of the national election process, the election of MPs to the Lower House. The process is, however, currently 18 months behind schedule and it now seems likely that the culmination of the process, the election of the President, will not take place until early 2022.
Jubbaland State elected its last four senators on October 21st, finally completing the process of elections of senators to the Upper House of the Somali parliament. The senators were elected by the members of the six Federal Member State parliaments. Somaliland was represented by remote, reflecting its disengagement with the Mogadishu government.
Now to elect MPs
The election process now moves on to its next phase, the election of MPs to the Lower House. This process is more complicated, involving a system of delegates chosen from Somali society (which means, primarily, male clan elders) and two election locations in each of the Federal Member States barring Somaliland, where the process will be conducted by Mogadishu-based quislings. The multiple selection locations are designed to ensure wider representation but also bring increased challenges to securing the process, with threats from both the al-Qa’ida linked terrorist group, al-Shabaab, and armed clan militias seeking to ensure their men win. (And it will be primarily men, despite a prescription of 30% female representation which the states have singularly failed to achieve in the Upper House elections.)
Whenever the election of MPs to the Lower House is completed, likely months away, the final phases of the election process begin: the election of the Speakers of the Lower and Upper Houses, who will then oversee the election of the President. Most commentators believe the process will be completed in February or March 2022.
Who will be the next President of Somalia?
The current resident of Villa Somalia, President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed (nicknamed “Farmajo”), requested a two year extension to his term to complete preparations for an election featuring universal suffrage, which he was confident he would win and which was roundly rejected by opposition politicians. He has received an extension of sorts but the process continues to be a selection, not an election.
However, during his informal extension what appeared to be a cohesive opposition has effectively disintegrated and the competition now seems to be between President Farmajo and his fellow Darod clansman, the President of Puntland State, President Said Abdullai Deni. This will, inevitably, further aggravate the largest clan block, the Hawiye, who feel that the presidency is theirs by right.
Continuing delays in the Somali election process limits the ability of the government to pass legislation, govern effectively and fight al-Shabaab: the eventual resolution of the elections process may bring a degree of stability but it may also raise inter-clan tensions, the root of so many of Somalia’s problems.