Following the independence in mid-1960, Somalia has embraced a democratic system and it had become the first democratic country in Africa.
Indeed, Somalia has enjoyed nine (9) years of democracy and peaceful transition power. In addition, first president of Somali Mr. Adan Adde became the first democratic president in Africa who transited the power as peaceful to his successor president Abdirashid Ali.
In 1969, the Somalia military took over the power through military coup and hijacked the democracy. Although, the military regime has made progress in terms of economic growth, and free high-quality education and health care. Furthermore, Somalia military was become the strong military and well- equipped which contributed to the liberation of many countries of Africa which were under the western colonists but the development without democracy and absence of inclusive political institutions are not sustainable.
Since 1991, after the collapse of the government, Somalia implements indirect election or selection which managed and monopolized by traditional elders, warlords and extractive economic institutions who chooses members of parliament to elect the president. And it undermined the rights of Somalia citizens and induced unfunctional government which benefits for small elites.
In this opinion paper, I explore how Somalia can eligible holding one-person and one-vote election in late 2020 and early 2021, and the main challenges and multitude or heavy tasks still lying ahead to incumbent government and National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC). The aim of this paper to outline the millstone tasks remains that makes it difficult to hold universal suffrage in 2020/21.
The main tasks and challenges for universal suffrage election in Somalia
Although, the Somalia Federal Parliament has recently passed the electoral bill and the president of Somalia Mr. Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo signed the electoral law. Moreover, the government and National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC) reiterated their commitments and promises in holding the universal election.
Therefore, the holding of universal suffrage in Somalia 2020/21, it will be the first time after fifty one (51) years that the Somalia government enfranchise their citizens but it is very complex to hold one- person and one-vote election in 2020/21, because of the main tasks, regulations, rules of procedures and constitutionally mandated terms limited of the political institutions is less than one year.
- Drafting of Somalia Federal Constitution
The review of Somalia constitution still under the process and professional since 2012, after national technical committee approved it. Additionally, there is no national consensus about the federal system because the warlords agreed it in Nairobi the capital city of Kenya in 2004.
And Somali scholars argues that the federal system is inapplicable for Somalia because the Somali people are homogenous and sharing one religion and language. However, the constitution needs public referendum to hold one-person and one vote election and Independent Constitutional Review and Implementation commission (ICRIC)and parliamentary professional constitutional review and Implementation oversight committee have less than year to implement public referendum.
- allocation seats of constituencies
According Article 10 of electoral law mentions that the electoral system of Somalia will be parliamentary majoritarian system (single member plurality). Which based on the first past the post (FPTP). In addition, the clause 2 of the article 10 stipulates the submitted candidates of political parties will be based on assigned seats of constituencies. However, without censes is very difficult to allot seats for constituencies.
Again, the census is pivotal for universal suffrage election because the allocation seats for districts and constituencies requires national census. and so that government is suffering from budget constraining, insecurity of some regions and lack of election materials and facilitations.
- Citizenship law
The determination of Somalia citizenship regulated by country’s 1962 citizenship law, which provides to any one whose father or who is ethnically Somalia and who has no other citizenship. Although, the article 8 Professional Federal Constitution stipulates that the Somali citizen cannot be deprived of Somali citizenship, even if they become a citizen of other country.
Again, the Somali ethnical populated in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia because the British colonist divided the country. However, National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC) could not differentiate the Somalia citizens in Somalia Republic and others from those countries so that the citizenship law is essential for universal suffrage election.
Somalia has undergone various plights during past thirty (30) years inside of clan conflict, internationally and regional interference, terrorist attack, political and economic grievance among society, and weak government which could make it difficult to hold universal suffrage. In addition, there are main remained procedures rules and challenges such as registration voters of procedures rules, insecurity in some region, lack of resources and budget, lack of training of electoral staffs, lack of civic education and awareness of voters, undemocratic of political parties and issue of north regions (Somaliland).
Ahmed Mohamoud Mohamed,
Independence researcher and Political analysis