The Path to Democratic Elections in Somalia: A Gradual and Prudent Approach


OP-ED | Somalia faces a daunting challenge: transitioning from a federal election system based on the 4.5 formula to one that upholds the principle of one person, one vote. To tackle this issue, we must assess the current state of Somalia's institutions and evaluate their capacity to manage a more democratic electoral system.

Problem: Democratic Values at Risk

Democratic elections should embody two essential values: freedom and fairness. However, the credibility of even the most advanced African countries, such as Nigeria and Kenya, is questioned during their elections. This is primarily due to independent institutions like election commissions lacking integrity and competence. Somalia, a nation with underdeveloped institutions, struggles to organize a one-person, one-vote system within three years, as its constitution demands.

Solution: A Pragmatic Approach to Electoral Reform

To address these challenges, we propose a two-fold solution:

  1. Enhance the current 4:5 election system to make it more fair and free: This involves refining the existing system to better align with democratic values and ensure equal access to resources and equitable treatment by state institutions.
  2. Gradually establish an independent, inclusive, and consensus-based electoral commission: The goal is to build a capable institution that can organize credible one-person, one-vote elections. This process can start with pilot projects for Federal Member States and the Banadir region level, allowing for a gradual transition that accounts for Somalia's unique circumstances.


Somalia's journey to democratic elections is fraught with challenges, but a problem-solving approach can help the nation overcome these hurdles. By refining the existing electoral system and laying the groundwork for a strong electoral commission, Somalia can progress toward a democratic future. Patience and determination, rather than haste, will be crucial in securing long-term stability and prosperity for this resilient nation.

Asad Mohamad Email:

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