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Somalia’s Presidential Election Is Postponed Again. What Now?

This does not bode well for the safety, security, or society of Somalia.

somalia
somalia

Somalia’s presidential election, which had already been postponed, was scheduled to be held on Wednesday of this week. It will not be.

On Monday, the Somali electoral body postponed the vote yet again. Why? Because members of parliament are supposed to elect the president, and parliamentary elections have not yet been completed, complicated, as they were, by corruption. The beleaguered electoral body is currently investigating malpractice.

The electoral body has issued assurances presidential elections will indeed take place before the end of 2016, but did not specify a date. Back in September, Somalia announced elections would be moved from October to November. That prompted Michael Keating, the United Nations special representative for Somalia, to warn the U.N. Security Council.

Somalia’s presidential election, which had already been postponed, was scheduled to be held on Wednesday of this week. It will not be.

On Monday, the Somali electoral body postponed the vote yet again. Why? Because members of parliament are supposed to elect the president, and parliamentary elections have not yet been completed, complicated, as they were, by corruption. The beleaguered electoral body is currently investigating malpractice.

The electoral body has issued assurances presidential elections will indeed take place before the end of 2016, but did not specify a date. Back in September, Somalia announced elections would be moved from October to November. That prompted Michael Keating, the United Nations special representative for Somalia, to warn the U.N. Security Council.

“The renewed delay raises a number of fears,” Keating said back then. “Let me name just two: that the process is being politically manipulated, and that this delay may only be one of yet further ‘rolling delays.’” Clearly, those fears were not unfounded.

September’s delay was blamed on security concerns — specifically, on al-Shabab, which has increased attacks in particular parts of Somalia, including the capital Mogadishu. (The United States government recently empowered itself to make “collective self-defense” strikes in Somalia against Shabab). These security concerns were also, at least in part, the stated reason that legislators, and not Somali citizens, were charged with electing the president.

And so Somalia is left not only with rampant security concerns, but also by corruption so pervasive that it could believably be the reason for postponing presidential elections and an electoral body that at least one U.N. special representative seems to distrust.

But there is at least one person who benefits from the perpetual postponement: Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who is up for reelection.

Photo credit: SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images

Emily Tamkin is the U.S. editor of the New Statesman and the author of The Influence of Soros, published July 2020. Twitter: @emilyctamkin

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