Sunday, June 26, 2022
Wardheer News
  • Opinion

All in the Family (Part II): Politics in the South West

By Hassan M. Abukar

Editor’s note: This is the sixth of a series of articles WardheerNews will be running to highlight how the Regional Administrations managed the selection of the Upper House and the members of the Lower House as part of Somalia’s 2016 elections.

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Mohamed Mursal
Mohamed Mursal, nephew of Shaif Hassan

President Sharif Hassan of the South West (SW) is trying to ensure that his relatives and friends are elected to the Lower House of the Federal Parliament. He is also creating his own set of clan chieftains.

To begin, Sharif Hassan’s own son, Abdulkhadir, has been officially selected for parliament.  Abdulkhadir replaced his father two years ago in the Federal Parliament when Sharif Hassan became the head of the Interim South West Administration. Now, Abdulkhadir has returned.

In Part One, we discussed Mohamed Mursal, the Wunderkind and nephew of Sharif Hassan. Mursal is the state minister for the presidency office and the head of the election committee. These strange dual and conflicting responsibilities can only possibly take place in the SW. Mursal’s wife, Samro Omar Ibrahim, is running for a seat in parliament with her selection almost guaranteed.

Sharif Hassan’s half-brother, Madeer, is slated to win a seat over Adan Mohamed Nur “Madoobe,” former speaker of Somalia. The two are fighting for a seat for Hadame, a subclan of Mirifle. Madoobe was the politician who had replaced Sharif Hassan as speaker in 2007, when the latter was voted out of office. Madoobe was also once a star in the SW, but has since fizzled out.

adan-madoobe
Adan Madoobe, a rival of Sharif Hassan

In one subclan of Mirifle, Liisaan, Sharif Hassan has anointed a new chieftain by the name of Malaaq Mohamed Adow. Professor Mohamed Mukhtar of Savannah State University’s late father, 100, was the chieftain of Liisaan in particular and Mirifle in general, but has passed away recently. Mukhtar’s brother, Malaaq Ali Malaaq Mukhtar, who lives in Australia, was supposed to lead the sub clan until Sharif Hassan chose his own man, Adow, a butcher by profession, to lead. Why Adow? First, Adow is married to Sharif Hassan’s sister. Secondly, Adow’s sister is married to Madeer, Sharif Hassan’s brother. However, perhaps, Gelidle, another subclan of Mirifle, saw the most violent aspect of this election.

The Gelidle chieftain, Malaaq Ibrahim Moalim, was beaten by soldiers when he defied Sharif Hassan. The strongman and his nephew, Mursal, wanted to have their people elected to parliament. Mursal’s wife, Samro, belongs to the Gelidle subclan.

Corruption in its highest order

These are some features of the elections in the South West for the Lower House:

  1. Each candidate selects his/her own 51 electors without any vetting. In other words, if you are approved to run for office, it is your responsibility to bring a list of people who will vote for you. It does not matter where these electors come or which clan they belong to. Alas, no one will check them. There are reports that Sharif Hassan’s soldiers have doubled as electors. One major condition is that the candidates must support Sharif Hassan. “Anyone who is not supporting me,” Sharif Hassan said in ruthlessly clear terms, “has no business running for parliament.”
  2. The Election Committee, headed by Mursal, is involved in weaning out candidates seen as independents or have not paid enough bribes. There are instances in which legitimate candidates were barred from entering the polling places. Why Mursal, a government official, would oversee the election process is a question that has stumped many people? In essence, he is the judge and the jury.
  3. Unlike elections of the Lower House in Puntland, the South West does not allow the mass media to broadcast the proceedings live. Journalists in the South West are intimidated and harassed by Sharif Hassan’s people.
  4. Candidates who do not cooperate with Mursal are threatened that their pictures will be passed to Al-Shabaab. While Al-Shabaab militants are not on the ballot, they are a major factor in the election. All parliament candidates must submit their pictures in order to run for office and, unfortunately, these images are used as blackmail to pass to Al-Shabaab for those who refuse to cooperate with Sharif Hassan.
  5. Money flows like water in the SW during the elections. The problem is that no one is caught with their hand in the cookie jar. The system lacks transparency and an independent election body to run the elections. In essence, as one candidate said, “It is a joke that there are elections in the South West in the first place.”
  6. Sharif Hassan controls Baydhabo, the largest city in the SW. He does not control outside of Baydhabo, an area run by Al-Shabaab. He and his followers have to fly in and out of Baydhabo. The same can be said about other regional states like Jubbaland, Galmudug, and Hirshabelle. In a way, these are all city-states. For the SW, Sharif Hassan lacks a pool of people to fill many vacancies. The candidates for office can’t visit the very areas they represent. That is why Sharif Hassan has to “create” his own candidates and fake mechanisms for electors and elected officials.
samro-omer-ibrahim
Samro Omar Ibrahim, Mursal’s wife and a parliament candidate

Perhaps, Mohamed Osman Jawari, speaker of the federal parliament, was the only politician elected fair and square in the SW. His election was attended by the media and two U.N observers in order to show the world that the process in Baydhabo was clean and fair.

However, for many candidates, the election set off a cascade of grievances.

Somali Finance Minister, Mohamed Adan Farkeeti, was not lucky. Sharif Hassan did not want him to serve in the federal parliament even though Farkeeti spent a great deal of money in his campaign. Sharif Hassan had more than twenty five of Farkeeti’s electors detained in the presidential palace for two days and their cell phones confiscated. At the end, Farkeeti lost by one vote to a man very close to Sharif Hassan. Sometimes, money is not everything in the SW, especially if Sharif Hassan does not want you or sees you as a threat. Already, supporters of Farkeeti and Sharif Hassan have clashed in Baydhabo and gunfire has been exchanged. There is a great chance that these armed confrontations will spread across the SW.

Mukhtar Hassan Yarow, 57, saw firsthand the level of corruption in the South West elections. As a candidate, he was beaten and physically removed from the election site. “I have never seen something like this in my life,” he lamented, “with the prevalence of wrongdoing and corruption.” His rival brought with him 15 members of his immediate family to vote for him. Undeterred, Yarow still wanted to run. Finally, he was approached by Musal and was given a bona fide offer: “Withdraw.” When Yarow refused, he was hit on the back of his head by 20 soldiers and physically removed from the building.

Another young man held a short press conference —remember, there is fear among journalists—but proved to be powerful and effective. The young man asked the international community and President Hassan S. Mohamoud to interfere in the “so-called elections” in the South West. “It is a charade,” he said. He solely blamed Sharif Hassan and his nephew for the widespread corruption and use of force to intimidate and harass candidates.

Recently, Michael Keating, Special Representative of the U.N Secretary General to Somalia, conceded that “vote buying and bribes are a reality,” but added that “voting, when it actually takes place, is secret, that there are no cell phones for example for people to take photos on how they voted…”  The question is: what is the point of having secret voting when the pool of electors is tainted? What good would a secret ballot do when you, as a candidate, are assured that you will prevail? The problem with the SW is a combination of money, nepotism, an inexperienced pool of candidates, and a corrupt election committee, all of which is reflected on during their elections.

Hassan M. Abukar
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Hassan M. Abukar is a regular contributor to Wardheernews and  the author of Mogadishu Memoir. Mr. Abukar can be reached at [email protected].

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Related Articles:

–  Should the Somalilanders in Mogadishu Parliament Quit? By Dr. Ali Bahar
–  Hassan Sheikh: The hand that rocks the cradle of HirShabelle By Hassan M. Abukar
– Proposals to Curtail Vote Buying in 2016 Presidential Election By Faisal Roble
– “I was railroaded,” says a female candidate in the South West elections By WardheerNews
– All in the Family: Politics in the South West State By Hassan M. Abukar


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