Clan dominance and challenges of democcratizetion in Somalia

Contesting for wealth and power has commonly changed coalition and conflicts among Somali clans and lineage, ultimately driving rampant corruption. For almost 30 years, the Somalis’ most critical factors considered clan superiority that impeded the country’s transformation into a genuine democracy. The critical challenges of democratization in Somalia are clan-politics and non-democratic elections. 

Traditionally, the African states comprise several nations or ethnic groups. Every state populated by certain ethnic groups with a different language, religion, and culture is more informed than they must attempt extremely difficult to overcome the differences and form the wisdom of nationhood among ethnic groups. In the central part of Africa, the state developed before the nation, and several African countries continue to create whole(real) nations.

In contrast to Somalia’s case, only one ethnic group (Somali) has more significant opportunities to develop democracy and stable states than several other African states. Initially, Somalis were a nation before the country developed into a nation-state, and partially that’s why Somalia, after independence, political leaders seem to have implied that they ran out to work seriously to form a stable state. 

The country took an adverse direction and could not maintain its immature democracy and create a more sustainable and consistent shape. Somalia became the first African democratic state on the continent in the 1960s and made a peaceful transfer of power to the elected officials. In Short, after the independence period, the political leaders took massive actions to change the clans’ devotion and lineage with faithfulness to the nation. However, with little progress made, a clan-based political system and clannism impeded the country from utilizing (enjoying) democracy in the 1960s. 

Eventually, few researchers addressed the issue of clan politics and democratic developments in Somalia. For that reason, the article assessed the implication of Clan-politics on the democratic transition in Somalia. After ten years of lack of government, the government of Djibouti, with the international community’s support, organized a peace conference held in Arta Djibouti, and the meetings were participated by various groups, including political elites, world leaders, civil society members, and international communities. In 2000, clan delegates and traditional leaders agreed to establish a Transitional National government. President Abdiqasim Salad elected the legislative assembly (TNG) mandated for four years from 2000 to 2004.

The electoral model of the elections is based on the 4.5 clan-power sharing formula. Followed by the first transitional federal government was inaugurated on August 22, 2004. Due to political pressure and instability, President Yusuf resigned in December 2008, and speaker of the parliament, Sheikh Adan, became acting president. The TFG and ARS faction led by the former Sharif reached a power-sharing agreement in Djibouti and established the second transitional federal government in 2009. Both opposition and government-wing agreed parliamentary seats extended to 275 seats; the total MPs became 500 MPs.

In 2012 after the transitional government ended and adopted a new constitution, the number of MPs reduced from 500 to 275. On the other hand, from 1960 to 2022, Somalia had opted for the 10th president and 21st Prime minister in 62 years since the establishment of Somalia. Many Somalis have believed the failure to abolish the clan-identity political system and move to a multi-party democracy resulted in a lack of leadership commitment and political instability.

The indirect Model instructs all parliamentarians to select based on the 4.5 clan-system, and each member of the people’s house vote for allocated clan delegates between 51 and 101. That shows the country has consistently failed to adopt the universal suffrage election or minimalist concept. Though these situations are essential and indispensable in any democracy, the maximalists seek much broader than the minimalist interpretation, which is also a significant concern.

The maximalist framework is the essence of recognizing the principle of human rights, social and economic justice, widespread public participation, advancement, and protection of minority rights, and civil-military connections. These are critical situations that must be implemented in any state to thoroughly evaluate the degree of the democratic process. Somalia is not an exception but must enforce the transition democracy successfully.


About The Author: Dr. Mohamed BINCOF (Ph.D.), Lecturer, Consultant, and Researcher. You can reach him at email:

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