EDITORIAL: Rigged election in Somalia will sink us all, Farmajo

EDITORIAL | Somalis are anxiously awaiting the crucial election scheduled for July 25 in what could make or break the country. And it can be assumed that everyone, including our leaders in the federal government and federal member states, understands the crux of the matter.

This is why it is appalling to learn that new machinations are attempting to derail or even overthrow an election for the sole benefit of an individual. We are aware of reports that spy agents attempted to interfere with the reconciliation plan in Gedo. We are also aware of information that they were involved in quarrels over the composition of electoral teams for the northern regions (Somaliland).

Outgoing President Mohamed Farmajo will surely know that an election for Somalia will only be as it unfolds. That’s why he has to stand out from the crowd and berate his own officers for trying to bend the rules.

There are reports of interference with electoral teams for the northern regions, including Somaliland. There are also accusations that spy agents colluded to derail a reconciliation program in Gedo that was part of a crucial program to pacify an area that Farmaajo helped ruin.

The president knows that without reconciliation, elections in Gedo may not take place as leaders will have to agree on locations and delegates. In retrospect, this chaos may benefit Farmajo directly, knowing that a region that hasn’t come together for him won’t help push him out the door.

But the reality is that the upcoming elections have serious connotations on the path Somalia should take to save the country from a security crisis. First, the elections are coming well after the scheduled date. They come after talks that saved the country from the brink, incidentally caused by Farmaajo’s misguided decision to extend his term in April.

Somalis, however, are not just in a hurry to end the elections. The upcoming elections are not just a political motion that the country must pass. The election is a tool for the country to put in place its institutions which will exercise mandates with legitimacy. A rigged election therefore risks sinking us all. Neither Farmaajo nor his intruding spies will rule a country fueled by chaos. In fact, they could be his first victim.

We have already said that the rebirth of Somalia depends as much on its politics as on good leadership. In times of crisis, Farmaajo must dismiss his boys and let the law, not political interests, influence matters.

The next election is not what we wanted. Farmaajo failed to deliver universal suffrage. He failed to deal with al-Shabaab and the economy is now in ruins after being hijacked by Al-Shabaab and Covid-19. Somalis, however, see the elections as a chance to regenerate and work towards a universal goal where everyone participates in electing who will become their leader.

The real goal is to eliminate rent-seeking between elites and leaders subject to public selection. It will be crucial to rebuild the country. But we must start with this indirect election which must be free, fair and credible. Only then will the Somali ship continue to navigate its rough waters.


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