Somalia’s titanic presidential race: What we know so far

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After months of waiting, Somalia is set to hold presidential elections on May 15, which has been set aside as the day for destiny by the committee of 17 legislators from the bicameral house, which is entrusted to conduct the much-anticipated exercise.

In Somalia, parliamentary democracy is embraced but before that, clans play a major role in the election of MPs at the constituency level. It’s these MPs who participate in the presidential election and this exercise has been going on for years.

Clan politics dominate the country’s political seats given that the outgoing President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo has not managed to put the framework for the election of the president through the universal suffrage method, a common practice in advanced democracies.

With the timeline set for May 15, potential candidates have started picking clearance certificates and the number could significantly increase due to the urge for change. On Sunday, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed better known as Farmajo announced his candidature for elections.

Throughout his leadership, Farmajo has often been accused of divisive leadership, more often than not using the elite Gorgor forces and Haramacad police to silence his critics. His attempts to extend his term in office were rejected over 12 months ago.

The outgoing president is set to face stiff resistance from former President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, who was also cleared on Sunday having paid for registration. Sheikh Ahmed is credited for helping to drive Al-Shabaab out of Mogadishu.

His successor, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is also set to run for the coveted seat as of Sunday. Sheikh Mohamud has been one of the consistent critics of Farmajo’s administration which he dismisses as “rogue”.

Former Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire who was sacked in 2020, was also cleared to run for the elections. Khaire, who is tipped to be one of the frontrunners, sharply differed with Farmajo over issues of governance.

Others who have picked certificates for the elections include Dahir Mohamed Gelle, Abdulkadir Osoble, Abdishakur Warsame and Bashir Haji Ali. There is a likelihood that the opposition could unite to produce a single presidential candidate who will face Farmajo.

During the elections of house leadership teams, the opposition backed Aden Sheikh Madobe and Abdi Hashi, who are consistent critics of Farmajo. If a candidate fails to score at least two-thirds of the votes cast by the MPs [275 Lower House and 54 senators], a simple majority determines the next president.