Somali speaker implicated in parliamentary seats fraud

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Despite significant flaws in the election — riddled with claims of vote buying and corruption — it is still widely considered the most democratic voting process to take place in nearly five decades.

By Wangui Moses  

NAIROBI – The recent parliamentary elections process in Somalia was clouded in mystery with claims of nepotism and favoritism, which, some say, was done behind the back or under the watch of the electoral commission.

The commission, an independent body tasked with overseeing and running Somalia’s elections had repeatedly affirmed it would strive to implement fair and free elections, despite allegations of fraud and intimidation against voters and officials.

Meanwhile, one Somali clan complained that the process through which its members were included into the new 275-member parliament was mishandled, alleging that some of their preferred members were changed with other members handpicked by powerful officials in the government.

Certain seats picked for Jidle clan have been called into question, sparking criticism by the international community follow an incident at the election venue in which the bodyguards of a Somali minister who was vying for a parliamentary seat opened fire at supporters of a rival candidate.

Several people have been injured in the clashes, followed by a vote which say the minister involved in the incident elected; prompting the electoral body to annul his election denounced by many as ‘sham’, conducted by delegates arranged to vote in favor of the Somali sports and youth minister amid pressure by the international community.

African Union forces tasked with the security at the election were reportedly not present at the time of the incident in Jowhar town.

The minister had reportedly used over $100.000 in bribes splashed to the Election committee to secure the seat.

Somalia’s parliament speaker who was re-elected for the second time to lead the legislative house was also reportedly involved in the ‘fraud’ that saw the minister snatched the seat in a dramatic vote.

Members of the new Somali parliament also alleged that Omar Mohamed Dhagey, a British Citizen as well as the chairman of the electoral committee was also in the scheme, further stating that he also issued a certificate for the minister.

“He told the clan’s chieftain to pay $200,000 if he wanted his delegation to continue process.” said a Somali legislator familiar with the issue, a demand dismissed by the clan chief who confronted him and declined to bow to his demands.

Other two officials Yasin Abdi Jama and Zaki Abdi Harare, two Somali-American citizens were also implicated in the fraud scheme which threatened the credibility of the process.

The two men who are members of the ruling party, Damu-Jadid (New Blood) of which the sports minister is a member have reportedly lobbied on behalf of the minister, pushing officials to validate his election, having arranged secret meeting with members of the election committee.

“This fraud will likely be repeated again and again.” said an official on condition of anonymity.

Overall, 24 presidential candidates have registered themselves to run for the country’s top seat.

The vote will come six months after it was originally set for August, following delays in the election of lawmakers because of clan disputes, fraud accusations and organizational challenges.

Despite significant flaws in the election — riddled with claims of vote buying and corruption — it is still widely considered the most democratic voting process to take place in nearly five decades.

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