Somalia’s electoral process involves three main phases: the selection of the Upper House, the Lower House, and the president, who will nominate the Prime Minister.
This week, the country kicked off Upper House elections — the first of its kind in Somalia’s history. The senatorial body is composed of 54 members with candidates nominated by regional presidents and voted upon by the respective regional parliaments.
Just week ago, the federal election commission expressed dissatisfaction with the initial slab of Upper House candidates for all regional administrations except Southwest because they did not ensure a 30% quota for female representatives as previously agreed upon by national leadership.
New candidate lists were subsequently produced, but it did not ensure all regional administrations would meet the requirement, as only 22% of Upper House members (8 out of 35) are women so far.
Somalia’s first Upper House has provided an additional platform from which aspiring presidential candidates can modestly boost their chances of victory. However, the notion of a Somali official — like current Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke — vying for a lower position in order to win a higher position is a circuitous route prone to cause side-eye.
But, this guarantees that in the event the PM loses his presidential bid, he maintains an influential role in the next government. Other cabinet officials — who also see the exit as a revolving door — are seeking to remain in politics by applying for Lower House seats.
The process to divide Upper House seats among Somalia’s regions underwent several formulaic changes before settling on eight members for each regional administration and three extra seats for Somaliland and Puntland. This controversially left out the capital Mogadishu and the surrounding Banaadir region — whose status in a federal Somalia has not been determined.
While the Upper House process has had its fair share of shortfalls and idiosyncrasies, the process is nearly complete. However, a contingent of Somalilanders and the newly formed Hir-Shabelle administration have yet to nominate their Upper House members.
Galmudug finalized its eight members it will send to the Upper House, which were shared between several clans in the region.
1- Abshir Maxamed Axmed “Abshir Bukhaari” (Hawiye-Habar Gidir-Haaji Saleeban)
2- Jen. Cabdi Xasan Cawaale “Qeybdiid” (Hawiye-Habar Gidir-Sa’ad)
3- Cabdi Axmed Dhuxulow “Dhegdheer” (Hawiye-Murusade)
4- Yuusuf Geelle Ugaas (Hawiye-Duduble)
5- Zamzam Dahir Maxamuud (Hawiye-Abgaal-Waceysle-Abdirahman Saleebaan)
6- Jawaahir Axmed Elmi (Hawiye-Habar Gidir-Ayr)
7- Abdiwahid Elmi “Goonjeex” (Darood-Marehan)
8- Abuukar Axmed Xaashi (Dir)
Zamzam and Jawaahir were the two female candidates that were elected — almost meeting the 30% quota for female representatives at 25%.
On 19 October, Jubaland completed its Upper House process. Interestingly, Mohamed Abdi “Gandhi”, who failed in his previous bid to establish a regional administration in Jubaland known as Azania several years ago, also lost his senatorial bid. The region selected only one female Upper House candidate — Fadumo Hassan Adan — failing to meet the 30% quota for women with only 12%.
Here are the rest of the Jubaland’s Upper House representatives, along with the community from which they were chosen:
- Hassan Faarax Xujaale (Darood-Ogaden-Awlyahan)
- Ahmed Hashi Mohamud (Darood-Ogaden-Maqabul) defeated Gandhi 40 to 26 in votes among Jubaland’s parliament
- Abdullahi Sheikh Ismail “Fartaag” (Darood-Marehan-Reer Ugaas Sharmarke)
- Mowliid Hussein Guhaad (Darood-Marehan-Reer Osman)
- Ahmed M. Omar Ahmed (Dir-Biyomaal)
- Ahmed Abdi Xafiid Mohamed (Mirifle-Dabare)
- Iftin Hassan Imaan (Awrmale)
- Fadumo Hassan Adan (Koombe-Geri), who defeated another female candidate,Waris Abdi Mohamud, who had replaced an ex-warlord who was removed from the candidates list following complaints from Western diplomats
Allegations of nepotism and other dramatic intrigue have been operating in the undercurrent of the parliamentary processes in Baidoa. Southwest regional president Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan has been accused of running the administration as his personal fiefdom by putting family members, close allies, and donors in key positions — thereby raising the question of whether the electoral process is simply a mirage for familial promotion and pay-for-play.
The parliament in the Southwest administration voted for Upper House members from the respective communities as follows, including two women (25%):
1-Abdikaafi Macalin Xasan (Digil-Garre)
2-Xuseen Cali Xaaji Cabdalla (Dir-Biimaal)
3-Zamzam Ibraahim Cali (Digil-Jiido)
4-Timiro Maxamed Cali (Mirifle-Boqol Hore)
5-Xuseen Sheekh Maxamuud (Mirifle-Hadamo)
6-Adan Cabdi Aadan (Mirifle-Leesaan)
7-Ilyaas Cali Xasan (Mirifle-Eelay)
8-Abdullahi Abdi Jabriil (Mirifle-Geledi)
Elections in Garowe took place amid violence further south in Galkayo between Puntland and Galmudug militias, despite the Ethiopian government’s “confirmation” of a ceasefire. The fighting initially erupted in early October after Somali authorities stated a U.S. airstrike the previous week hit Galmudug forces mistakenly thought to be al-Shabaab.
1- Competition for the Darood-Majerteen-Osman Mohamud seat:
Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke (current Prime Minister) defeats and Aamina Aadan Abdullahi, 47 to 17 votes
2- Competition for the Darood-Majerteen-Omar Mohamud seat:
Shukri Aadan Maxamed defeated Yaasiin Cabdi Seed and Seynab Xaashi Biixi
3- Competition for the Darood-Majerteen-Issa Mohamud seat:
4- Competition for the Darood-Warsangeli seat:
Siciido Xassan Cismaan defeated Axmed Maxmuud Cabulle Tigaana, Siciid Maxamuud Aadan, & Maxamed Maxamuud Bile
5- Competition for the Darood-Dhulbahante seat:
Hodan Maxamuud Osman defeated Basra Omar Gelle, 35 to 30
6- Competition for the Darood-Dishiishe seat:
Abdirisaaq Osman Hassan Jurrile defeated Hodan Ismail Elmi narrowly by one vote
7- Competition for the Darood-Majerteen-Ali Saleebeen seat:
Maxamuud Ahmed Maxamuud defeated Faadumo Siciid Maxamed, 56-8
8- Competition between the Darood-Majerteen-Abdirahim, Darood-Abdi Kombe, and Dir clans:
Bootaan Barre Samatar (Abdi Kombe) defeated ex-warlord Mohamed Said Xirsi “Morgan” (Majerteen-Abdirahim) 38 to 27 votes
9- Competition between Awrtable, Darood-Majerteen-Maxamuud and Darood-Majerteen-Wabeeneeye clans:
Mahad Daahir Sheekh Nuur (Awrtable) won with 36 votes against Abdihakim Axmed Xaashi, who received 26 votes
10- Competition for the Darood-Leelkase seat:
Farxaan Ali Hussein (the youngest senator elected) defeated Ali Ismail Abdi Giir by seven votes
11- Competition for the Darood-Dhulbahante clan seat
Abdisalam Haji Mohamud Dheere defeated Faarax Cawad Jaamac, 40 to 25
The Somali government-run process to form Hir-Shabelle administration as a merger of Hiiraan and Middle Shabelle regions is moving a slow pace because it is encountering the same intra-regional opposition that transpired in efforts to form Jubaland, Southwest, and Galmudug.
Traditionally marginalized clans have complained that the regional electoral process was unfair because they were completely locked out of the election for the parliament speaker, where all of the candidates were from the Hawiye-Gaaljecel clan.
In addition, an opposition contingent, led by Hawadle clan leader Ugaas Hassan Ugaas Khaliif (ironically supported by ex-federalism minister Goodax Barre, who was tasked with running the government’s state formation program) has sought the formation of a rival administration known as “Hiiraan State” based in Beledweyne.
The rogue cadre has disagreed with the clan distribution of power and claimed that the federal government has not played a fair role. Other media outlets generally critical of the federal government have accused Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of manipulating the Hir-Shabelle process in order to ensure political allies get positions of power so that they can support his re-election bid.
This week, Ali Abdullahi Osoble — a member of the Hawadle clan — visited Beledweyne in an effort to convince Ugaas Hassan’s side to accept the legitimacy of his nascent administration. Negotiations may hinge on whether Ali Abdullahi agrees to  allow Ugaas Hassan to have significant say in the nomination of Upper House candidates from Hiiraan region,  allow Lower House candidates from Hiiraan to be chosen in Beledweyne rather than Jowhar or Mogadishu, and  prevent President Hassan Sheikh from intervening on behalf of his allies during the selection of Lower House members.
Agreeing on political dispensation between elites will determine whether Hir-Shabelle, like other regional administrations, serves as an illusion of decentralization confined to a small headquarters or as a regional authority with broad local legitimacy and influence — from which the idea of federalism is based.
Representatives from some communities in Somaliland have been involved throughout the election process, despite the protests of the self-proclaimed independent Somaliland government. However, the Somaliland contingent has been engaged in a dispute with the federal government over the number of seats it will receive in the Upper House, stalling the process.
Somalia’s Lower House representatives will be selected along clan lines by a 14,025 member electoral college chosen by clan elders. Candidates will compete for votes among 51 electoral college members of their respective clan.
As of early October, the federal election commission stated that clan elders had submitted less than half of the proposed members of the electoral college.
According to Goobjoog media station:
“Clans from Somaliland and Banaadir regions are yet to submit a single list of delegates for the Lower House two days after the deadline lapsed while Jubbaland is remaining with one list according to a break-down released by the Federal electoral body FIEIT late Tuesday.
Out of the 14,025 delegates expected to vote for members of the Lower House starting October 23 to November 10, less than half or 6,528 names have been submitted to the Federal Indirect Electoral Implementation Team.”
On 30 November, a joint vote between the Lower and Upper House of parliament will choose the next president, if the parliamentary vote can stay on track. If not, Somalia will see the third election delay of this cycle.