Somalia gears up for its most ambitious General Election in decades

Somalia gears up for its most ambitious General Election in decades

Source: Memo Middle East Monitor,
Somalia's President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo in Moghadishu, Somalia on February 16, 2017 [Sadak Mohamed/Anadolu]

Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo in Moghadishu, Somalia on 16 February 2017 [Sadak Mohamed/Anadolu]

Somalia is a country recovering from conflict and civil war, and is preparing for its third General Election in 60 years. It last held countrywide elections in March 1960. In October of that year, the legitimate civil government was toppled in a bloodless military coup. Parliamentary and presidential elections were held in late 2016 and early 2017 respectively through an indirect electoral arrangement. The upcoming election is fraught with uncertainty and clear domestic challenges.

The Somali government led by President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo has made it clear that it is preparing the country for a one person, one vote poll. The president has already signed the electoral bill into law, under which citizens will participate in direct elections and vote for parties, rather than individual candidates, with parliamentary seats awarded as per the final tallies. Members of parliament will then choose the President and Prime Minister.

The National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC), which was tasked with overseeing the elections six years ago, has insisted many times that Somalia is ready for universal suffrage. However, on 27 June it ruled out holding the scheduled election on time, and informed lawmakers that the earliest it could be held is March next year, or after August 2021, based on biometric and manual registrations. The chairperson of the NIEC, Halima Ismail Ibrahim, also stated that “The Covid-19 pandemic, flooding, insecurity and political differences have hampered the Commission’s work schedule.”