By Ahmed Ibrahim, Ph.D
The upcoming presidential election in the Federal Republic of Somalia which has been moving its goalposts every time its deadline approaches, are rigged and lack legitimacy with the Somali people. It’s becoming apparent that the National Leaders Forum and the international community, especially the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), the African Union (AU), United States and Great Britain, have set in motion a corrupt election process that is circumventing the will of the people and is undermining the peace and stability of Somalia.
The Auditor in general of Somalia’s federal government, Mr. Nur Jim’ale Farah on November 19 in an interview with VOA Somali service, stated that there are numerous fraud cases on the election process that his office is currently investigating. Mr. Farah said that corruption and vote buying is widespread in the election process and is costing $ 5,000-1, 500000/seat. The office of the auditor in general is an independent public authority that is entrusted as an oversight and is vital on Somalia’s public financial managements. The statement coming from the auditor although encouraging may not however have the teeth to prosecute those found engaging with bribes and vote buying.
In a press release issued by the international community on October 30, also stated “ The United Nations, United States … are deeply concerned over continuing allegations of corruption in Somalia’s electoral process and reports of recurring intimidation of prospective candidates for parliament, electoral college delegates and election officials”.
The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, Michael Keating in a statement today said “ It is essential that credible reports of violations of the rules and regulations governing this process are investigated by the Indirect Electoral Dispute Resolution Mechanism (IEDRM), and appropriate action taken to preserve the legitimacy of the process,” The statement also raised concern over a number of high-profile incidents of disregard for the rules and regulations, including corruption and vote-buying, as well as harassment and intimidation of candidates, electoral college delegates, traditional elders and others.
The western and regional diplomats assess the corrupt and inept Somali government have put in place election process that is neither fair nor transparent and corrupted by President Hassan Sheikh and his Damul Jadiid allies. They have concluded that the allies of the president are using international community funds for Somalia to bribe members of the parliament.
The potential of rigged presidential election and the growing corruption are fueling a sense of alienation among many political and tribal leaders. Many people assess the coming national assembly and government that will emerge from this process will not possess the legitimacy to unite the competing political and tribal factions to enable them to move Somalia forward and end the decade old Al-Shabaab insurgency.
Many Somalis and foreign diplomats who routinely interact with President Hassan Sheikh describe him as paranoid, and erratic, accusing him of complicity in illicit activity including rampant corruption and nepotism. They have concluded that it is unlikely Hassan Sheikh will ever break from his habit of corruption and criminal activity, and will probably move Somalia backward.
These diplomats describe Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as incompetent individual and unfamiliar with the basics of rebuilding Somalia, who is easily swayed by bizarre clan conspiracies he believes are being plotted by rival clans and sub-clans including his own Hawiye tribe, or internally by rivals within his own sub-clan. As a result, he has surrounded himself with loyalist of his own family and close members of Damul Jadiid.
Contrary to the narrative that Hassan Sheikh puts out in public as a propaganda for his campaign, that he is a formidable candidate for the upcoming election, in fact his sphere of influence is shrinking, with the biggest enemy against him being his miserable track record of the past four years. A case in point, he was disinvited at the recent Abu Dhabi meeting of the regional administrations, and was not a party to the efforts to mediate between Puntland and Galmudug’s recent clashes.
Relations between Hassan Sheikh, the United States and international community have been strained, according to reports. These reports identify fundamental disagreements between the two sides about the Mohamud’s decision to replace effective Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed, who was pushing to end corruption and reform security forces fighting al-Shabaab with an incompetent Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid, who many western diplomats consider to be a novice and corrupt.
The frustration is also with the president family who are involved with rampant fraud and corruption that wrecked Somalia for the last four years, establishing a system of patronage and control that exists in Mogadishu, Hirshabelle, other regions and government sectors. There is a case that recently surfaced in Mogadishu, where Hassan Sheikh’s family was granted a contract to provide Somalia’s immigration department with new visa system. This allegation levied to Hassan Shiekhs’s family is not new but only one of many government contracts that are awarded to his family costing the country millions of hard currency.
No one is also asking or talking about the $ 530,000 stolen money from the Central bank of Somalia by a teller on August of this year, who perhaps had many culprits to steal the money.
These political leaders who have failed Somalia over the last four years, are now desperate to continue the failed leadership of Hassan Sheikh, unless the Somali people and international community makes significant and tangible changes and puts in place a fair election process free of corruption, the upcoming elections will not reflect the Somali people’s will and will be a failure for democracy and disasters for Somalia.
In addition, the failure to guarantee a fair election process in Somalia, the upcoming government that will emerge from this process will not possess the legitimacy to enable them to govern and bring about the security and the stability Somalia so desperately needs.
The international community must act against this corrupt process and move to establish relevant election controls and monitoring to ensure the process of legitimate elections, otherwise, this process will fail the Somali people and their wish to have an accountable and democratic government. This will be dangerous for Somalia security and will likely push many who feel disenfranchised and marginalized by the current corrupt government into the hands of those who are undermining the security of Somalia.
Ahmed Ibrahim, Ph.D
Dr. Ahmed Ibrahim is a former senior UN staff.
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