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Who is Running for President?
SR Looks at the Candidates for Presidency
By MOHAMED ODOWA 07/10/2012
Somali Lawmakers (File Photo)
©Somalia Report
Somali Lawmakers (File Photo)

As part of our series on the upcoming elections, Part One presented an overview of Somalia's political parties while today's Part Two introduces the candidates running for president.

The streets of Mogadishu, the capital city of Somalia, have grown increasingly more secure ever since the Islamist militia al-Shabaab group was evicted from the city in August of the last year by the African Union peacekeeping forces (AMISOM) and Transitional Federal Government (TFG) soldiers. This new found security has, in turn, brought droves of Diaspora back to the country to run for the presidency and heightened the interest of others who remained in Somali during its bleakest hours.

To move from the interim period to sustainable government, the current institutions of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) have to be renewed in less than 40 days, with 225 new legislatures who will elect a new president by August 20, according to Somali leaders and international actors.

More than 10 candidates registered so far to run for presidency including the following (in no particular order):

1. Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, the speaker of the outgoing parliament.

2. Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, the current president for the TFG.

What is more interesting is that the two Sharifs are the real players of the on-going process to end the interim period, as they are members of the signatories for the UN Roadmap. The two have the needed resources to run for presidency. They are a close friends in terms of relationship but have a little difference with vested interest when comes to run for specific positions in the government.

According to credible information obtained by Somalia Report, President Sheikh Sharif believes that his friend Sharif Hassan he has lost popularity both with his clan of Rahanwayn as well as with other Somalis. For that reason, Sharif Hassan is not expected to win enough votes if he decides to run for presidency so that his friend Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed is going to woo Sharif Hassan in terms of personal support.

"If Sheikh Sharif gets full support of his friend Sharif Hassan, then Sheikh Sharif will expect himself more to win for the term once again, but I don’t think Sharif Hassan will do that support for Sheikh Sharif’s campaign,” said the source.

3. Dr Abdiweli Mohamed Ali is expected to run for the presidency but many politicians who spoke to Somalia Report said he is not good at politics and he is seen to be a technocrat. He was willing to get the support of his sub-clan community from Puntland.

“Dr. Abdiwali does not have enough support with the people in Puntland where he is from -- let alone the rest of other Somalis living in the other parts of the country. He doesn't have any support from Khatumo state for the people of Sool, Sanaag and Ceyn regions,” a Garowe-based political analyst who asked not to be named told Somalia Report.

4. Ali Mohamed Gedi is a former TFG prime minister who served during the term of the late president Abddullahi Yusuf Ahmed. Mr Gedi, from Abgal, the same sub-clan of the current president Sharif Ahmed, but is accused by many Somalis of being responsible for Ethiopia’s incursion into Somalia late in 2006.

5. Ahmed Samatar is a Somali-American and professor who lectures at universities across the world. This is the first time for him to stand for the presidency for Somalia and is from Gudobiirse, a sub-clan of Dir. He is known for criticizing the TFG and previous governments of Somalia for lacking good leadership and as responsible for corruption, injustice and crimes against humanity.

6. Hassan Sheikh was a dean at the SIMAD University in Mogadishu and member of civil society groups, although his political experience remains unknown. He is from Abgal, a sub-clan of Hawiye. He is said to have the support of members of Al-Islah, a moderate Islamic group in Somalia. He has no background with policy.

7. Abdirahman Baadiyow is a prominent educator also a member of Al-Islah group but now he is running for presidency on behalf of himself, not his group. He is from Abgal a sub-clan of Hawiye.

8. Said Sheikh Doon is a businessman from Mareehan, a sub-clan of Darod. Mr. Sheikh Doon is new to Somalia’s political arena, but enjoys the support of his Mareehan community according to credible sources who spoke to Somalia Report.

9. Hagi Mohamed is a candidate from the Majeerten, a sub-clan of Darod. He is a businessman but new to politics and little support in his community in Puntland, according to sources close to him.

10. Hussein Khalif used to work for the Islamic Bank. He is from Majeerten, a sub-clan of Darod. His political experience remains unknown, and many predict that it will be difficult for him to win the presidency, due to his inexperience with politics.

11. Dr. Abdirahman Mohamed Hashi is the son of former President of Puntland Mohamed Hashi), and earned two Master's Degrees and a PhD in Economics.

12. Mohamed Abdualla Mohamed Farmajo is a former Somali Prime Minister. He recently formed the new Tayo political party.

13. Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsame a former TFG Planning and International Cooperation Minister and was one of the architectures of Djibouti agreement. He resigned in 2010 after he clashed with his former colleague, President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. He was an activist for peace, humanitarian, press freedom and education before he turned into politics. He told Somalia Report that he hopes to earn the minds, the hearts and the support of Somalis to win for presidency. No one knows how he will get it soon. He is from Ayr, Habargidir, and a sub-clan of Hawiye. He served as a Chief Negotiator and Deputy Chairman of the ARS during the landmark Djibouti talks (2008-2009) which ultimately brought the formation of the current TFG led by President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.

According to Warsame, it is time for him to take the lead of the country with strong vision to make Somalia a peaceful nation on August 20. “The interim time for the TFG will end soon and the current government must be taken to task for lack of accountability, poor leadership, corruptions and so on,” he said in an interview with Somalia Report.

“I’m now PM, and formerly served as a former planning and International Cooperation Minister for the former TFG cabinet, led by former Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmaarke. I will run for presidency to lead Somalia with a good vision,” said Warsame.

During his period in the government they have not even done a very little progress which then led him to resign. “Despite my eagerness to serve and despite sharing in the general optimism our country had turned a corner, I quickly realized to my huge disappointment we had made a wrong turn and veered off course. We were not making any headway. Our political project had stalled. We were increasingly fragmented and factionalized. The public had quickly turned against us and we had little or no claim to credibility and legitimacy. Poorly-led and mismanaged the ship of government had run aground. Frustrated by my inability to influence or change things and unable to stomach all what was happening or tacitly take responsibility, I decided to resign in 2010," Warsame said.

"I am fully confident that I can reach out to all the political forces and get the support of Ahlu Sunna wal Jamaa; make the necessary compromises and adjustments to accommodate other views; forge partnerships and adopt a common agenda and platform to reform," he told Somalia Report.

It is easy for Somali politicians to promise change without having a clue about the realities and the problems that face their people every day. But Warsame says he will come up with good governance with a strong vision, will be accountable for justice and will handle abuses against the freedom of speech and human rights if he is elected.

Addressing more than 400 hundred people from the parties of the community, including Somali lawmakers, politicians, youths, women and media outlets at the Safari Hotel this week, Mr. Warsame declared that his government will focus on fighting corruption as well as terror groups like al-Shabaab to improve security throughout the county.

“My debate will be a direct conversation with Somali youths, women, elders, politicians to answer their problems," he told Somalia Report.

Several candidates, like Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsame, are squabbling about who will be in charge to manage the elections because they have seen that some of the roadmap signatories in the TFG are going to run for presidency while they are the real arbitrators of the process.

“For that reason, the elections must be independent from the hands of the signatories otherwise it will be unfair according to the running candidates and politicians. “If the president, the Prime minister or the speaker of the parliament for the current government is willing to run for presidency, then anyone of them must stay away from managing on the election’s process. In this case, they cannot represent real arbitrators while running themselves for presidency,” said one (MP) Hassan Abshir.