2021 Somali presidential election
Presidential elections are scheduled to be held in Somalia in 2021. The incumbent president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, has been in office since the February 2017 election. In January 2019, former president Sharif Sheikh Ahmed announced his candidacy for the election, citing the "inability of the current leadership to restore peace and security" against Al Shabaab militants who at still control large rural regions of the country. Sheikh Sharif formed a political party for the election, Himilo Qaran (National Vision).
Background[edit source | edit]
The last direct multi-party election in Somalia was the 1969 parliamentary election, which was immediately followed by Siad Barre's far-left military coup in October of the same year. Barre's Supreme Revolutionary Council transformed the country into a single-party Marxist-Leninist state.
While a public direct election for President was held in December 1986, Somalia was a one-party state at the time; the Somali Revolutionary Socialist Party (SRSP) was the only legal political party, and incumbent Siad Barre was the only candidate. He was elected with no opponents, and fewer than 1,500 protest votes opposing his candidacy. In 1991, Somalia's central government collapsed due to his ousting, spurring a civil war that would last more than 25 years.
The 2017 presidential election (which was an indirect election by the Federal Parliament of Somalia and not a direct election) marked an "important milestone"; in a high-security hangar at the Aden Adde International Airport closed to the public, members of the Federal Parliament of Somalia elected Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed the second president of the Federal Government of Somalia. However, the election was also noted as a "milestone of corruption" amid widespread reports of vote-buying; the New York Times described politicians as "peeling off wads of hundred dollar bills to buy votes", and estimated at least $20 million had changed hands during the parliamentary elections (which directly determined the outcome of the presidential election).
Delays[edit source | edit]
The initial plan was for the elections to be held in 2020; delays occurred due to a variety of factors, including famine due to desert locusts, pestilence due to the COVID-19 pandemic, war with Al Shabaab insurgents, and the potential for deadly civil unrest within the country. President Mohamed signed legislation in February 2020 giving all citizens the right to vote in parliamentary elections, which was an election campaign promise of his.  In May 2020, Prime Minister Hassan Ali Kheyre confirmed that the elections were to be held in early 2021 in a speech following a cabinet meeting; he was quoted as saying "Holding a timely election is more important than anything else at this time and it’s one of the primary goals which the public entrusted us".
With Mohamed's presidential term due to end on February 8, 2021, in June 2020, the commissioner of the National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC), Halima Ismail Ibrahim, said that the election could "not take place on time". Neither the deadline for parliamentary elections nor the deadline for presidential elections could be met, due to lack of funding and infrastructure for a universal vote. The Forum for National Parties (FNP), objected strongly to delays and called for the NIEC to resign; FNP member and former president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said "We were not expecting them to come up with term extension, and to create political cloud [sic]". Ibrahim, however, refused to step down.
In September, the plan for direct parliamentary elections (which had long been hoped for by Somalis and "foreign donors") was scrapped. While on September 17, President Mohamed and five regional leaders agreed on a revised election procedure based on the 2016 Somali parliamentary election. In this procedure, clan elders verified by federal and state authorities would elect a parliament, whose members would then select a president.
In January 2021 there have been demonstrations in Mogadishu with an increasing sense of frustration over the current election impasse being evident. 
Preparations[edit source | edit]
There are signs that security is being increased with AMISOM showing a strong presence, particularly in Southwest State, to pave the way for a smooth transition of government.
References[edit source | edit]
- Nor, Mohamed Sheikh (2020-05-30). "Somalia Says Elections Set for Early 2021 Despite Virus Risk". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 2020-12-11.
- "2020 Somalia Presidential Election". National Democratic Institute. Retrieved 2020-12-11.
- Hayden, Nancy Kay (2018-02-01). "Balancing Belligerents or Feeding the Beast: Transforming Conflict Traps". Center for International & Security Studies, University of Maryland. Cite journal requires
- "Ex-Somalia President sets eye on the presidency seat on 2020". Goobjoog News. 2019-01-24. Retrieved 2020-12-11.
- "Former President picked as chair of presidential candidates union in Somalia". Garowe. 26 November 2020.
- Library of Congress. Federal Research Division (1993). "Siad Barre and Scientific Socialism". In Metz, Helen Chapin (ed.). Somalia: A Country Study. U.S. Government Publishing Office. ISBN 9780844407753.
- Library of Congress. Federal Research Division (1993). "Siad Barre's Repressive Measures". In Metz, Helen Chapin (ed.). Somalia: A Country Study. U.S. Government Publishing Office. ISBN 9780844407753.
- Library of Congress. Federal Research Division (1993). "The Social Order". In Metz, Helen Chapin (ed.). Somalia: A Country Study. U.S. Government Publishing Office. ISBN 9780844407753.
- Nohlen, D; Krennerich, M; Thibaut, B (1999). Elections in Africa: A data handbook. p. 813. ISBN 0-19-829645-2.
- Gettleman, Jeffrey (7 February 2017). "Fueled by bribes, Somalia's election seen as a milestone of corruption". The New York Times. Retrieved 2020-12-11.
- Felbab-Brown, Vanda (2020-11-23). "Facing elections and a potential US troop withdrawal, risks to Somalia's security abound". The Brookings Institution. Retrieved 2020-12-11.
- Hassan, Mohamed Olad (2020-09-18). "Somalia Names New PM, Revises Election Plan". Voice of America. Retrieved 2020-12-11.
- "President Farmajo's compromise on popular elections denotes his recognition of failure to deliver on promises". Somali Guardian. 20 September 2020.
- Maruf, Harun (2020-06-28). "Somali Elections Won't Take Place on Schedule". Voice of America. Retrieved 2020-12-11.
- "Time running out on Somalia's troubled vote as citizens express frustration". The Washington Post. 30 January 2021.
- "AU forces intensify security work in Somalia ahead of elections". Garowe. 3 February 2021.
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