On 10 September Somalia elected its new president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. It was said to be the first democratic elections since civil war broke out in 1991. The UN representative to Somalia spoke of “the end of a transitional period, and the beginning of a new era”. Some journalists and professors however are not convinced.
Hassan Seikh Mohamud was born in central Somalia and studied in the United States and India. Later on he worked as a lecturer at a university. Furthermore he held positions at the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme. He founded the Peace and Development Party in 2011 and participated in Somali elections for the first time last September.
At first sight, these elections seemed quite democratic. The UN representative to Somalia spoke approvingly of them and elections observers were positive about their course. The election took place in accordance with an agreement signed this February in Garowe, which should lead the non-effective, transitional government that was in power since the civil war to a new era with a democratically elected, representative government.
Some senior diplomatic sources confirmed to her that votes were bought and sold.
The election of the President was done by the Members of Parliament and took part in two rounds. After the first round, the now former president, Sharif Sheikh Ahmed was leading 23.7% to 22.2% of the votes for Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. After the second round, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud won the elections with 70.63% of the votes. So far, so good.
Afyane Emli, professor of international affairs in Qatar, notes that the MPs are not elected by the Somali people, but by tribe elders and other elite individuals in the country. So, although the President may have been democratically elected by its Parliament, the Parliament itself is not (yet) representing the people of Somalia.
Other harsh criticism comes from a journalist of Al Jazeera. She concluded that mainly the second voting round was full of bribery, after having spoken to multiple MPs and members of the technical selection committee. Furthermore, some senior diplomatic sources confirmed to her that votes were bought and sold.
The fact that these important Presidential elections – that should mark the beginning of a new era for Somalia – are allegedly full of bribery, does not paint a bright picture for the future. Lets hope that the President will give the provisional constitution that was only draw last August, a positive, democratic interpretation.