EDITORIAL: A rigged election in Somalia will sink us all, Farmajo included
EDITORIAL | Somalis are waiting in earnest for the crucial election scheduled from July 25 in what could make or break the country. And it could be presumed that everyone including our leaders in the Federal Government, and the Federal Member states understand the crux of the matter.
This is why it is appalling to learn of new machinations attempting to derail or even subvert an election solely to benefit one individual. We are aware of reports that spy agents have tried to interfere with the plan for reconciliation in Gedo. We are also aware of reports they have had a hand in wrangles about the composition of electoral teams for the northern regions (Somaliland).
The outgoing President Mohamed Farmajo will surely know that an election for Somalia will only be as good as its conduct. This is why he must stand out of the crowd and reprimand his own officers for trying to bend the rules.
There are reports of interfering with electoral teams for northern regions including Somaliland. There are also accusations the spy agents have colluded to derail a reconciliation program in Gedo which was part of a crucial agenda to pacify a region Farmaajo has had a hand in messing up.
The President knows that without reconciliation, elections in Gedo may not happen because leaders will need to agree on venues and delegates. From hindsight, perhaps those chaos benefit Farmajo directly, knowing that a region that hasn’t united for him will not help push him out of the door.
But the reality is that the upcoming election has serious connotations on the path Somalia should take to rescue the country from a security crisis. First, the elections are coming long after their intended due date. They are coming after talks that saved the country from the brink, incidentally caused by Farmaajo’s ill-advised move to extend his term back in April.
Somalis, however, are not just in a rush to be done with elections. The upcoming polls are not just a political motion the country must go through. The election is a tool for the country to establish its institutions that will carry out mandates with legitimacy. A rigged election, therefore, risks sinking us all. Neither Farmaajo nor his intruding spies will run a country fueled by chaos. In fact, they could be its first victim.
We have said before that Somalia’s rebirth is very much dependent on its politics as much as good leadership. In crisis time, Farmaajo must call off his boys and let the law, not political interest, influence things.
The upcoming election is not what we wanted. Farmaajo failed to deliver universal suffrage. He failed to deal with al-Shabaab and the economy is now in shambles having been hijacked by Al-Shabaab and Covid-19. Somalis, however, see the polls as a chance to regenerate and work towards a universal goal where everyone takes part in electing who becomes their leader.
The true target is to eliminate rent-seeking between elites and subject leaders to a public selection. That will be crucial to rebuilding the country. But we must start with this indirect election which must be free, fair, and credible. Only then will the Somali boat continue sailing in its rough waters.