The August 20 election in Somalia is expected to turn a new leaf in the administrative structure of the country that has been ravaged by war for the last 20 years.
After failed attempts in two decades to install a unitary government, the international community and especially Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Sudan, are keenly watching the unfolding scenario due to security interests.
The entry of Prime Minister Abdiweli Ali into the presidential fray has turned the fight into a three-horse race pitting him against President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Speaker of Parliament Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden.
Mr Ali’s late entry into the race has tilted the scales and forced his competitors to go back to the drawing board only days to the election.
He holds a PhD in economics from Harvard University and has been instrumental in drafting the country’s constitution in the past few months.
“Ali’s advantage over his competitors is the fact that he enjoys a good rapport with the ministers and Members of Parliament,” Mr Alfaisal Ali, the deputy Finance Minister told The Standard yesterday on phone from Mogadishu.
Alfaisal said the PM has not been tainted by any scandal and that if picked as the president, he would use his international connections to bring on board donors to rebuild the war ravaged country.
“What the country requires at this level is reforms, stability and implementation of the constitution. We believe that the PM has the ability to unite the country as demonstrated by his able leadership in the key position he holds,” he said.
The minister said Ali was reaching out to various stakeholders and engaged the MPs and ministers before making his position public.
President Ahmed was initially seen to have an upper hand in the election and is said to have a good rapport with the Ugandan government but his relations with Kenya’s administration are shaky.
Ahmed had objected to the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) setting base in Somalia as they pursued Al Shabaab following a series of attacks and kidnapping along the Kenyan border.
The business community in Kenya is also keenly following political developments in Somalia as most of them have a base in Nairobi.
The stability of Somalia after decades of war will be the best thing that happened to the business community in Kenya as we will be able to cash in on peace and export a great number of our products,” Mr Said Burr, a businessman in Nairobi with interests in Mogadishu said.
Burr said majority of the Somali business community in Kenya would most probably relocate to Mogadishu if peace prevails with the expected formation of a new government.
“Even as they do business in Kenya, their hearts and prayers are to have an acceptable administration in Mogadishu so that they can return home and rebuild their country,” he said.
Piracy along the coastal strip has since gone down with the entry of international players in fighting the vice and a number of foreign governments led by Turkey are angling themselves for a piece of the business pie in Mogadishu.
KDF has 4,500 soldiers who were integrated under Amisom and together with forces from neighbouring countries, are preparing for an assault against the free port town of Kismayu.
“The KDF forces have so far liberated 15 key towns in Somalia and overpowered the Al Shabaab operatives. Owing to the propaganda by the militiamen, many expected KDF to be defeated, but critics have been silenced by our success,” Col Cyrus Oguna, the KDF spokesman said recently.
Somalia elections were last held in the 1980s. During the civilian administration that existed prior to the seizure of power by the Supreme Revolutionary Council led by the late Siad Barre, in 1969, there were a number of local parties, but they were all outlawed thereafter.
Barre was ousted in 1991 following civil war that lead to emergence of autonomous and semi-autonomous regional states which came under the rule of rival militia groups.
Transitional Federal Government was formed in 2004 with a five-year mandate to establish a new constitutional order with all groups represented.
The mandate was extended in 2009 to August this year when the mandate of the President, the Speaker and his deputies comes to an end.
In February, Somali government officials met in the northeastern town of Garowe to discuss post-transition arrangements.
President Ahmed, the PM, Speaker, Puntland President Abdirahaman Mohamed Farole, Guldmudug President Mohamed Ahmed Alim and Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama’a representative Khalif Abdulkadir Noor signed an agreement on how Parliament would be formed.
The agreement gives way to a 225 member bicameral Parliament consisting of an upper house with 54 senators, a lower house consisting of 30 per cent of the National Constituent Assembly earmarked for women, the president to be appointed through a constitutional election while the PM is appointed by the President.
A national election committee is also being organised to oversee the transition to a representative government