Somalian lawmakers meet today to elect a new president to steer the affairs of the country for the next four years. The elections will see 24 candidates vie for the presidency after a series of postponements since December last year.
This election is significant in a number of ways. It is the country’s first presidential election since 1984. It will also be held at the Mogadishu International Airport as a result of security concerns.
Somalia held indirect presidential elections in 2012 to established its first federal government after more than 20 years of political vacuum.
With the inability to hold universal elections yet, members of the two houses of parliament will meet to elect the next president. There are a total of 329 votes up for grabs. Lower House with 275 members and the Upper House with 54 members. Each legislator has a vote.
It’s a crucial election day in Mogadishu. 22 candidates vying to get votes from 329 lawmakers— Harun Maruf (@HarunMaruf) February 8, 2017
Among the candidates are the incumbent President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, two former prime ministers and a former president.
Below are profiles of the top 4 candidates:
Hassan Sheikh Mohamud
Incumbent president and leader of the Peace and Development Party, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is standing for re-election to continue his mandate despite accusations of low performance.
The 61-year-old educationist has improved the diplomatic relationship between Somalia and other donor countries thereby gaining support to build the country.
Sheikh Mohamud, however, faced corruption accusations leading to a 2013 impeachment proceedings which he survived.
Mohamud has overseen the establishment of new federal regions including Jubbaland and Galmudug.
Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke
Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke is the Prime Minister of Somalia and formerly Somalia’s ambassador to the United States in 2014.
55-year-old Shamarke, who is also a former United Nations diplomat educated in Canada, is the son of former Somali prime minister and president Abdirashid Ali Shermarke, assassinated in 1969.
Sharmarke is known for his campaign against female genital mutilation (FGM) which is rife in Somalia.
Sharif Sheikh Ahmed
Former president Sharif Sheikh Ahmed wants to make a come-back after his defeat to Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in 2012.
He served as president between 2009 and 2012.
Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed ‘Farmajo’
One-time prime minister under former president Ahmed, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, wants to run again after failing to win the election in 2012 despite his popularity.
He served as a prime minister for less than a year before he was forced to resign under a deal supported by the population who protested when he refused initially.