Whoever wins Sunday’s presidential election in Somalia will have to contend with a basket of problems, mostly problems, over the next four years, ranging from insecurity to corruption.
The election, an indirect after the government failed to secure universal suffrage will have 39 candidates on the ballot – with just one woman among them, former Foreign Minister Fawziya Adam Yusuf.
Read: Statement: No-vote presidential election in Somalia
The 329 members of the upper and lower houses will jointly elect a president in a secret ballot, choosing from the largest number of candidates ever have run for the top office history of the country, despite the 15-month delay.
The candidates each had a 20-minute window to approach MPs as part of the election campaign. Incumbent Mohamed Farmaajo promised to change things and address the uncertainty and ensure a legal system to ensure predictable future elections.
But not everyone is hopeful.
“Rule of mediocrity in Somalia lies in the faint-hearted avoidance of those in power to recruit knowledgeable and able men and women to steer the state ship,” argued Adam Aw Hirsi, a former state government minister turned political analyst. He argued that Somalia had experienced a “grievance” that a new leader needed to rectify.
In 2017, Mohamed Farmaajo beat out 21 other candidates, most of whom had dropped out of the running well before election day. but still appeared in the campaign vote. In 2012 there were 22 candidates. All previous elections in 2009, 2004 and 2001 were held outside Somalia for security reasons and there were 11, 26 and 16 candidates respectively.
This election is expected to bring someone to deal with the al-Shabaab threat, Rebuilding national institutions, economic reforms and the birth of a new constitution that will define government’s roles, functions and procedures going forward.
Abdirahman Nur Dinari, former Minister of Trade in the caretaker government and a former government spokesman told The EastAfrican that the country will need someone who understands the job.
“The person must have government experience,” said Dinari, who was a key member of the Mbagathi Talks of the Somalia Reconciliation Conference from 2002-2004.
“The right person must appreciate Somalia’s choice of federalism, which includes the criteria that have been identified as other determining factors ate the ability to build peace and consensus, and be aware of local dynamics.”
Commentators suggest that different political camps may have confronted their proxies to undercut popular rival candidates.
< p>“Most of these proxies just want to get the title of ‘former presidential candidate’ and don’t care that they paid $40,000 to qualify for the race,” noted Abdalla Ahmed Ibrahim, director of local think tank East Africa Center for Research and Strategic Studies. He calls it “misaligned priorities”.
Critics have slammed the cost of running a presidential bid, arguing that it is elitist and excludes qualified candidates. But the Election Committee defended the criteria, saying it screened out “also-rans” while insisting the mandatory fee was cheaper than the $50,000 charged in 2017. They argued that none of this year’s 39 candidates had trouble raising the amount.
The militant group al-Shabaab recently stepped up attacks in Mogadishu, bombing and even bombing a security checkpoint, a camp occupied by African Union forces last week attacked the parliament venue where MPs had gathered to elect parliament speakers to increase the security threat.
The country is now suffering from a drought and food shortages that have displaced a third of the population .