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Somali leader’s re-election bid under threat amid opposition alliance

Somalia’s incumbent president Hassan Sheikh will face a tough challenge from a revitalized and united opposition as he seeks a second term election

by Judy Maina,

NAIROBI – Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud will face tight races from coalition opposition candidates in the forthcoming presidential polls scheduled to take place at the end of January in what appeared to be a threat to his for re-election, analysts say.

Mr. Mohamud, 61 who was elected as Somali president in 2012 to lead the first non-interim government for the horn of Africa nation since 1991 when warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre is trying to defend his seat amid tough challenges from heavyweight rival candidates including his predecessor Sharif Sheikh Ahmed who vowed a ‘new development’ page for Somalia if he is elected for presidency for the second time.

Somali presidential polls have been delayed several times, sparking criticism from the international community that have questioned the credibility of the process marred by allegations of fraud and intimidation against voters.

In the final days of campaigning, a grinning Mohamud stared out from the large billboards positioned every few hundred meters along the main roads in Mogadishu, Somali capital.

“He is well-positioned to rise above a little of the challenges ahead, but he’d still have to make it through the tricky next step of overcoming the more revitalized and united opposition camps.” said Jacob Moses, a Nairobi-based Somalia expert

“The opposition candidates are pulling together and committed to unseat him regardless of who else among them takes the seat other than Mohamud.” He said.

Long known for his grinning gestures and oratory, Mr. Mohamud is confident of re-election, rearming himself with his regular catchphrase ‘’let’s complete the unfinished work” in apparent appeal to lawmakers to re-elect him in order to finish national tasks in progress.

Despite facing charges of corruption and power abuses, Mr. Mohamud had overseen key projects including the formation of regional states under new federalism system and the election of a new parliament which would have to elect a president.

However, opposition candidates continued their infinite campaigns against him with the hope that change may be on the horizon.

Meanwhile, the former Somali president Sharif Sheikh Ahmed accused Mohamud’s government of corruption and stealing national assets in masses, drawing applause from opposition supporters present at his press conference last month.

Sharif Sheikh Ahmed
Sharif Sheikh Ahmed

He also noted that the ruling party led by president Mohamud used public assets and national army to manipulate the results of the parliamentary elections.

Upon his arrival in Mogadishu, thousands came out to cheer Ahmed’s motorcade, banging drums as he passed along the airport road.

“This country and people desperately need change and we shall do our best to realize that dream,” He said “They suffered a lot in the past four years.”

(Alleastafrica stringer in Mogadishu contributed to this report, editing by John Thiongo)

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