Somalia heads to presidential polls amidst widespread corruption, intimidation

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Somalia is not holding a popular presidential vote but rather an indirect election where only lawmakers are allowed to Vote.

By Nangayi Guyson, nangayi.guyson@alleastafrica.com

Kampala, Uganda- Members of Parliament in Somalia gatherED today Wednesday 8that the Country’s International airport to elect a new head of state amidst allegations of widespread corruption and intimidation.

Somalia is not holding a popular presidential vote but rather an indirect election where only lawmakers are allowed to Vote.

This process is done in this way; 135 clan elders elect 14,025 delegates and these delegates elect 275 Mps and 54 senators who also elect the president and the president elects the Prime Minister who also appoints the whole cabinet to form a ruling government.

The winner is expected to be declared on Wednesday afternoon.

The Somali government and the international community promised in 2012, to use the one-person, one-vote system come 2016, but this was not possible due to insecurity issues.

The organizing committee of the elections told the press last week that the polls will go on as planned.

The current President of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who came to power in 2012 is facing a stiff competition from other 23 presidential candidates.

On 6thFeb,Presidential candidates participated in first ever televised debate that was dominated by issues of corruption, security and U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban but over 12 candidates boycotted this debate at the parliament hall in Mogadishu following internet disconnection and others blaming the government for denying private media coverage.

On the other hand,Election observers in Somalia have cited corruption and intimidations in this election process. Candidatesare reported to be giving gifts and large sums of cash to lawmakers to secure their votes.

The chairman of an independent anti-corruption committee warned candidates and threatened to expose those who are offering and accepting bribes.

While speaking to reporters Monday, he said “We know what is going on and we want to make sure that things happen in a transparent and legal way,” said Abdi Ismail Samatar.

“There is no way we can immediately prevent if a lawmaker makes deals under the table, but we make sure that the voting process is free and fair, and later if we find out any corruption and bribery involvement, we will make it public,” he said.

Reports coming insiders in the country indicate that candidates are offering positions in the government in exchange of votes. They are also paying airfare, hotel bills and meals for the voters ranging from $1,000 to $10,000.

One presidential candidateis reported to have spent more than $1.3 million in an effort to get elected.

A Ugandan Expert on Conflict Resolution and founder of Pan African Forum, Dr. David Matsanga told the AlleastAfrica that “A successful election in Somalia will see the country regain its peace and the fight for insurgences will be boosted. Its neighboring countries Like Kenya which has been Vulnerable to Al-Shaabab attacks will expect peace in the near future. It will make Somalia stable it will be good for the East African region and Horn of Africa” Matsanga said.

Somalia’s has not had a functioning government since the overthrow of the military regime of President SiadBarre in 1991 and the success of this election is a new roadmap to peace and stability of  the country.

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