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Anxiety as Somalia awaits the fate of universal suffrage elections
Africa

Anxiety as Somalia awaits the fate of universal suffrage elections

Somalia could this month know if the much-awaited universal suffrage elections could go ahead, even as sceptics cited time constraints and security nightmare. Often known as the one-person-one-vote (1P1V), Somalia plans to hold the historic elections by end of next year. But whatever happens this December in the Somali Federal Parliament’s two houses (House of the People and the Senate) could determine whether that is possible. An electoral bill meant to clarify the voting procedure and participation was tabled on the floor of the House and could, by Christmas, be the actual determinant on the polls. SHABAAB SYMPATHISERS On Thursday, the Somali Federal Government insisted the 1P1V will be the surest way to lock out Al-Shabaab sympathisers because of the planned tighter controls on candidates. Related Stories Doubts arise over Somalia's zeal on Shabaab war “Of course the 1PIV is the only option as the elders have become compromised by the Shabaabs,” a Somali minister told the Sunday Nation, speaking on the background as the government was still galvanising support for the Bill. “Those who don’t [support] this option are spoilers who want to keep the status quo going.” Somalia had never held elections on home soil since 1967, until 2009, when Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed was voted in through a clan delegate system known as 4.5. Since then, there have been two successive, but similar, elections. In 2020, the plan is to enable the public to participate and vote for their chosen candidates, based on what critics termed rent-seeking among clan elders as well as infiltration by Shabaabs. HOUSE DIVISIONS But the debate around the bill has indicated divisions. Members of a parliamentary ad hoc committee disagreed with the Cabinet on the appropriate type of voting. Once Parliament passes the bill, however, there won’t be guarantee 1P1V will go ahead. Somalia will need to register voters, source for money to finance polls and create a legal framework on how to handle relations between Mogadishu and federal states. Hawa Noor, a Marie Curie Phd Fellow at the Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences (BIGSSS) in Germany told the Sunday Nation the many technicalities surrounding the poll makes it difficult to hold. TECHNICALITIES “The one-person-one-vote seems unlikely because of the lack of concrete infrastructure to facilitate it and so the risk of extension remains, like it happened during the 2016 polls- postponed to 2017,” she said. “The other serious question is: what is the real meaning of 'one person one vote'? And is it driven by the reality in Somalia? Structural conditions are missing. Or is it just a statement that is used to make it sound as if democracy is at home in Somalia?” she posed