Lies and truths about Somalia’s elections: Why is opposition scapegoating Farmaajo?

Lies and truths about Somalia’s elections: Why is opposition scapegoating Farmaajo?
Read Time:8 Minute, 45 Second

The last three months marked yet another low moment for Somalia indirect electoral model in use from 2000-2021. Perfecting the art of stealing practiced in previous seasons, the federal member states (FMS) have finally managed to give themselves absolute control over the senate and lower house elections. Each of the five regional presidents plus Abdi Hashi and Mahdi Guled, without exception, had nominated their cronies to fill the 54- member senate seats. As has been witnessed for the few lower house seats that have already been filled, that the five regional presidents and Abdi Hashi and Mahdi Guled for “Somaliland,” will follow the same script for senate nominations is a forgone conclusion.    

Who is responsible for this sorry state of electoral affairs? Well, it’s easy to point fingers but, isn’t the Council of Presidential Candidates (CPC), presidents of Puntland and Jubbaland, and the senate speaker who had joined forces to force the fraud-prone indirect election on Somalia? haven’t Heritage Institute of Policy Studies and SAHAN Research provided the intellectual backing to the use of indirect model of elections in both the previous and current elections?. Haven’t these strange bedfellows  preferred indirect elections over direct popular elections because they believed and feared the latter will favor Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed “Farmaajo,” the incumbent presidential candidate, who they assessed is possessed of extremely grassroots popularity?

The motivation of all these political actors and vested interest think tanks, after their frustration of 1P1V process, was to wrestle control of the election process from president Farmajo. As usual with human plans, unintended consequence upended everything they had planned and hoped for. From running from the frying pan – Farmaajo –, the plotters found themselves in the fire—, the jaws of FMS presidents. In evading responsibility for their own actions, the plotters have turned around to scapegoat Farmaajo for the failure of their own schemes.     

These actors’ pressure efforts came to fruition with the signing of May 27 agreement by the consultative council comprising of the prime minister and FMS presidents. As Jubbaland and Puntland President presidents succeeded in booting Farmaajo from the electoral process, so did they use that perfect chance of the power handed to them by CPC’s political and military pressure to lock out CPC themselves from having even the remotest say in the electoral process. As a perfect use and dump exemplification, Jubbaland and Puntland presidents joined forces with their counterpart presidents of Galmudug, Hirshabelle and Southwest in rogue consolidation of exclusive powers for the control of the elections.

The net effect of what is happening is that between the five regional presidents is such unprecedented power to determine who gets elected as member of the bicameral parliament and to some real extent who becomes president in the expected presidential elections. That being the case, breaking it further leads one to assume that Puntland president Deni and federal president Farmaajo can be expected to be frontrunner beneficiaries, since its widely assumed that the two are the only ones with regional presidents as allies. The only addition being that even within the CPC there are candidates who feel they still stand a chance with MPs elected in the current fraudulent elections, since they assume that MPs don’t belong to parties and don’t have binding ideology or loyalty to the powers who facilitated their election. And they have 100% precedent from the result of past elections to support their assumptions and hopes on.

The other factors that CPC and allied think tanks HIPS and SAHAN are not being truthful is that this election, that they initially vouched for and whom CPC members either jointly or separately praised and offered commendations for in the form of congratulatory messages to the elected senators and the federal presidents, is not in any way more fraudulent than the previous elections which have also been the brainchild of SAHAN. The only difference being whereas in the previous elections it was the incumbent president, prime minister, speaker of parliament and Puntland and Jubbaland presidents had some say, with current elections power and controls exclusively rests with the five FMS presidents, and Abdi HAshi and Mahdi Guled for “Somaliland,” leaving “Somaliland” mostly as a tossup as it had always been.

As the author of Somalia’s indirect elections model SAHAN should be the last entity to spread lies about the current lower house election which started in two of the five regions and “Somaliland.” There is plenty bad about the current election model as conveniently agreed upon by the FMS presidents to make one wonder why SAHAN should engage in misinforming or outright lies about it. As an example, nothing can be further from the truth than claims of vote buying and cash in whatever dollar denomination being dished out at voting venues. If anything, if it ends as it started, this election will go down in history as one where no one saw money exchange hands for one to be elected MP or president. Everything that is happening is everything that happened in previous elections with a tinge of sophistication to it. There is no one to give or take money. The regional MPs and their presidents had been having some form of symbiotic relationship on the basis of prior, currently continuing and future favors/debts. Where money is used it’s being used sophisticatedly and not the kind of eyesore open bribery that had been witnessed in the previous parliamentary and presidential elections. The presidential elections, if at all, should also be expected to follow a similar trajectory.

Therefore, SAHAN lied about the “distribution and counting of large sums of in hundred-dollar bills,” in NISA Chief Yasin Farey’s election. The sad thing with SAHAN is that, as grand liars, they know about this particular lie of theirs. The other big lie of SAHAN is about the three weeks prior to elections resignation requirement for public servants. While that rule existed in the 2016 elections, there is no such rule in the regulations of 2021 elections as agreed upon among the five regional presidents on August  22. To argue against the singling out of Yasin Farey for the prior resignation non-existent rule, as the federal elections implementation team confirmed, precedent has been set in ministers, ambassadors and other senior regional and federal public servants who were elected before Mr. Farey either as senators or members of the lower house.   

Other than Farmaajophobia-fueled baseless conjecture, if truth be told, where does Farmaajo come in in the elections fiasco that FMS presidents have been staging in their respective regions for the past nearly four months? The regional presidents are not doing anyone’s bidding in their fraudulent actions. They are doing it for themselves. Otherwise spurious claims of Deni is doing 100% Deni’s bidding, Ahmed Madobe is doing 100% Deni’s bidding, Qoorqoor and Laftagareen are doing half-half Khaire and Farmaajo’s bidding, Guudlaawe is doing eighth:quarter:eighth:half Sheikh Sharif, Khaire, Hasan Sheikh, Farmaajo bidding, and “Somaliland” is doing a third : two-thirds CPC, Farmaajo bidding will fly left right and center. 

Locking and knocking out qualified candidates, denying them even a losing competing chance is one of the worst violations to happen in this election. It was done to former speaker Jawari and all indications are that it will happen to many more across the five FMS. But for SAHAN to put it as though it’s something only common to Galmudug and Southwest is SAHAN’s way of retelling naked lies. Blockading candidates was so common in 2016 and Southwest’s Khalid Omar whose was locked in his hotel room, NISA Chief Gafow’s brother seat defended on the backs of NISA technical in Galmudug, the open clashes for Nuh’s seat in Hirshabelle are some of the examples. The other aspect is the deliberate lack of contextualization of the current election debacle. SAHAN also knows it supported what was done to Prof. Jawari in Southwest being done against former petroleum minister Mohamed Mukhtar in Jubbaland in the 2016 elections.

Why didn’t the “vicious street brawl” that SAHAN is fond of forecasting happen in past elections with similar or even worse fraudulence? If violence happens in Mogadishu, as SAHAN and HIPS predicted, it could not be blamed on Farmaajo as the May 25 violence was blamed on him as a result of his unilateral term extension. For some members of the opposition rallying violence in Mogadishu after electoral loss to Farmaajo would give Farmaajo the moral advantage over the opposition. And with no escape route from Mogadishu it would be interesting to see how the instigators of violence would fair.

There is an option for some CPC candidates to boycott the presidential election. But such will only afford them a face-saving chance and nothing more. Once the presidential elections date is fixed and the process begins, we all know the field will be flooded with all sorts of candidates. The only bright side for the opposition who would have boycotted the elections would be that only then would Farmaajo be faced with a strong challenge with a likelihood to lose to the candidates who would have contested after CPC boycott than he was to lose to any of the CPC if they contest against him.

Theft or no theft, the best chance for Somalia is to conclude these elections by 31st December. For any attempts by the opposition to delay the elections would legitimately give Farmaajo the two years the opposition have gone to war with him about to stop. The best compromise is not “to throw out of those seats where evidence of fraud exists,” as SAHAN suggests but to agree on direct universal election for the presidential elections to strip the elections of members of parliament of any real significance. The next best chance is to stop dragging Farmaajo’s name in the ongoing election of MPs at the regions to stop instigating violence. Everyone knows what is going on at the regions is the works of the regional presidents. It’s therefore dishonest to blame Farmaajo for the election and loss of election or blockage of anyone from elections simply because the blamer has a beef with him. For the best way to fight fraudulent elections is to be truthful about them as opposed to tolerating one and condemning the other as the opposition has been doing.

By: Aydid Guled

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