Somalia: Presidential Elections – Six Ways to Win Power
After 12 years of feeble transitional governments, Somalia is slated to have a permanent administration that theoretically will be able to borrow money from the World Bank, sign binding bilateral treaties and buy weapons from the world markets – some of the many things transitional governments were unable to do.
If it all goes according to plan, 135 clan elders who represent a convoluted power-distribution model that arbitrarily compartmentalizes Somalis into four and half clans, will select 225 members to the new parliament sometime in July. The new MPs will in turn elect a speaker and his deputies on August 4, and a president on August 20.
More than 60 men have declared their candidacy for the top job, but fewer than a handful stand a realistic chance to becoming the 8th president of the Somali Republic, since independence in 1960.
And even among the few who are considered front-runners, they’d have to meet most – if not all – of six factors that are the litmus test to becoming the president of Somalia. The factors are listed in the order of their importance.
1. Base support (sub-clan)
No candidate can pull off the presidency without first securing the backing of a plurality of MPs from his sub-clan. After all, all politics is local. In Somalia the clan system is by far the most predictable indicator of political behavior. Clans support one of their own expecting a dividend once he takes reign. And in most cases, the president’s sub-clan ultimately dominates all facets of power, owing to a combination of push and pull factors. This has consistently been the case, except during the tenure of the first president, Aden Abdulle Osman, who was an idealistic leader with no ambition to retain the seat by any means. In fact, he was the first African president to step down after he was defeated in an election widely seen as fair.
Call it corruption, if you will, but money is a critical facilitator in Somali politics. The last three presidential elections (2000, 2004 2009) had been decided, in large part, on candidates essentially buying MPs to vote
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