“Outrageous Somali Politicians Implode in Fury over Election Revamp Agreement”
On Tuesday, May 30, 2023, a group of Somali politicians made a confusing declaration in opposition to the overhaul of the country’s electoral system, which would permit universal suffrage. The politicians proclaimed that there was an inadequate conversation regarding the issue and that some of the proposed changes were unconstitutional.
On Sunday, Somalia’s central government alongside four federal member states concurred to introduce a one-person, one-vote system with local elections slated for June 2024. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud pledged to end a 50-year-old clan-based indirect voting system in March.
The National Consultative Forum gathered to announce their decision, calling for a single presidential ticket where voters elect both the president and vice president, effectively abolishing the position of prime minister. However, the proposed changes must still be approved by parliament.
Nevertheless, eight prominent politicians, consisting of former president Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and four former prime ministers, issued a statement contradicting the decision. While the group applauded the effort to implement a one-person, one-vote system, they argued that the decision was made without enough representation and consultation with all federal member states, causing a threat to the unity of the people.
The group also opposed the new electoral calendar and restrictions on the number of political parties permitted to contest the elections, stating that “power will be confined to a small group of people.” Somalia, which suffers from chronic conflict and chaos, is struggling to emerge while fighting insurgents and natural disasters such as drought.
The nation has not held one-person, one-vote elections since 1969, during the reign of Siad Barre, the dictator. Despite this, Puntland held direct elections for local councils on Thursday, and international partners hope that it will inspire increased democracy across the country.