Background:What is...?
Analysis
Which are Somalia's Political Parties?
SR Begins Analysis of Somalia's Political Transition
By MAHAD OMAR DIRIYE 07/09/2012
As Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) moves closer to elections in August 2012, Somalia Report takes a look at the political parties in the country, which will be followed by a review of the candidates for president.

Background

The formation of Somalia’s modern political parties began in the 1940s with the establishment of the popular Somali Youth Club (SYC) in 1943 which was later renamed the Somali Youth League (SYL). Their mission was to lead the struggle for independence from Britain and Italy.

LEEGO and DAB Iyo DHAGAX were also among the prominent parties until October 21, 1969 when the third official president of Somalia, General Siyad Barre, took over after Sharmarke’s assassination in October 1969 in Las’anod, Sanaag Region. Sharmarke was the second president and held office from June 1967 until his death after the resignation of the first Somalia president, Aden Adde.

Immediately after the coup d'etat by the late general Barre, his government formed a communist party Hanti Wadaaga Kacaanka Soomalaiyeed (Joint Ownership Revolution for the Somali People) and declared it as the only party in Somalia, for a period of 21 years.

Since his fall in the early 1990s at the hands of various warlords, there have been different ways of officially running for president; the criteria for all presidential aspirants only demanded a submission of declaration and application to the election committees and the parliamentarians vote for their president. The aspirants were eligible to run for the highest office without hailing from any political or registered party.

After President Sheikh Sharif took office on January 31, 2009, there were movements aimed at forming political parties, a benchmark for the next elections. At that time a few political parties launched their political conventions and platforms.

The Democratic Party of Somalia, formed on October 29, 2010, was among the first political parties in the new Somalia. By 2012, the number of parties registering has increased mainly because elections will be held this year.

Why and how were political parties formed?

During its investigation and inteview with various officials, Somalia Report found that the majorty of parties campaigned for a better governance, democracy and transparency. Some party heads condemned and criticized the 4.5 rule which highlights the tribal existence in forming credible leadership and governance for Somalia.

Former PM Farmajo
©Somalia Report
Former PM Farmajo

“In my opinion, the 4.5 rule is an unfair course for some minor tribes. It’s even unfair among the major Somalia clans as it purport right depreciation. I said this even when I was in office as the prime minster of Somalia, that 4.5 rule is not the solution for Somalia because it only considers majority clans and that is why we formed this political party, the TAYO party (Quality People of Administration). It’s an opportunity for the minority tribes to participate in governance as we take the course to form political parties before the election," said the former Prime Minister Farmajo in an interview with Somali Channel TV.

The vice chairman of the Democratic Party of Somalia, Mr. Dhakane, believes this the right time for Somalia to embrace a multi-party system.

Objectively, he claims the need to source for better leadership as a result of fair and free election. He further explained that, structurally, DPS is formed just like any other political party, we have party chairman, deputy chairman, secretary and other ordinary party members and as well we have the backup of the youth, women, elders and other prominent community members. DPS head quarter is based in Nairobi and as well we have other branches in Canada, USA and some other parts of Europe. He continued as follows.

“Our political party is not based on tribal lines but is based on political objectives and missions unlike other parties. DPS is composed of partners and elites from the 18 province in Somalia indiscriminately. For more information our website clearly defines our policy and political landscape and coverage," concluded Dhakane.

Somalia's multi-party system

Among the factors that contribute to the current increase in political party formation is believed to be financial sponsorship by external donor countries and the diaspora, thus the formation and their political ideologies is defined and strategized with the influence of the external agents, but the claim was denied by the deputy DPS party in reference to ideological and political party objective mapping but confirmed the friendly political atmospheric relationship they have with some other country.

“It’s true that political parties are supported by external donor countries in terms of political issues strategies, but not of personal interests by donor countries. As the DPS party, we sell our party objective to our political partner countries for support," said Mr. Dhakane.

Some of the Somali community think it’s the right time to move towards fair, free and transparent government, which can result to democratic elections as many nod their heads to see many political parties vowing for seats.

“I’m delighted to see the different political parties participating for fair and free election. I understand, it’s at this time that the country is making a progress towards democracy which is a good start In restoring peace and as well a good opportunity for the minority people like me as opposed to the 4.5 rule. I still urge political parties to fulfill all regulations for election to ensure every Somali citizen participate this election, but the challenge is that some regions are not administered by the TFG which halt every one’s participation in this election,” Jaillani, a Somali student in Kenya Methodist University, told Somalia Report.

Other Somali citizens, however, believe that this is not the right time for political parties.

“It’s not actually the right time for political parties to operate in Somalia because the parties cannot operate in all the 18 regions of Somalia due to al-Shabaab. In my opinion, we cannot shift from transitional period right away, as the Somali community is not currently prepared for the course and re-uniting the Somali community takes time. Likewise, the nominated parliament shall vote as proposed to individual citizen voting for his/her presidential candidate and this is the biggest challenges for the parties,” Halima jama, a resident in Kismayo, told Somalia Report.

TFG Charter on political party formation

Although the 'Right to Establish Political Parties' is laid out in Article 21 of the TFG charter, there is no clear concept of exactly how parties are authorized to be formed. Many politicians believe these political parties are termed as civil society groups.

1. The Transitional Federal Government shall encourage the formation of political parties in the Republic save that it shall be in accordance with the law.

2. In accordance with the laws, all Citizens, shall have the right to associate with political parties, political programs interpreting clearly their national political agenda.

3. The political parties shall be open for all Citizens and be guided by General Principles of Democracy.

4. Any Political party of a military character or tribal nature shall be prohibited.

5. Political parties shall have the right to form alliances before, during and after the election periods.

6. All Citizens possessing the qualifications required by law have the right to vote and be elected to Public Office.

“The TFG charter policy do not clearly define political parties but they indirectly under come the civil society groups, there is no big problem to behave like a political party, and they shall need to register with the election board,” said Awad Ahmed Ashara, the TFG Chairperson in the Committee for Information and Culture.

Somalia Flag
Somalia Flag
The chairman of Somali Team Reality party, Abdirrahman Hajji Abdulle, emphasized the need for political parties to participate in the coming election under any conditions.

“Actually, we as political party leaders need to follow the conditions posed by the election board for further facilitation of every party participation in the coming August election,” Abdurahman told Somalia Report.

There is little information available regarding the August election procedures which is controlled by an election board committees. The TFG is controlling all the activities of the election even are believed to involve in the current MP nominations. The political raised a claim on the transparency and accountability of the all election related activities.

TAYO Party's General Secretary points out that political need to be convinced on the August election and be assured of the fairness of the overall activity, he also requested for an external observers to witness the way things are done during the election day, he believes some of the prominent government officials who are presidential aspirant can manage to twist and cause mess to suit their interest which is not fair. Explained to Somalia channel TV.

Financial muscle of the political parties

The political parties claimed to obtain their operational finances from the Diaspora abroad, but the claim was rejected by most of the party officials. Sources claimed the real financial backers of political parties operational capital spread across abroad contribution and donations, member’s contribution, business people and some of their loyal supporters. Fundraising events are held both inside and outside the country to help parties meet their financial goals.

How will the parties proceed to their campaigns?

Politicians and government officials are busy in campaigning and or either to be part of the parliamentarians voting for presidential candidates expected to be held in less than two months. It’s believed that the Somalia political party campaigns won’t be compared elsewhere campaigns in terms of capital as though the candidates are not voted for by over a million citizens but by just 225 parliamentarians hence the focus of the presidential candidates of the parties will be to convince only the parliamentarians to vote for their candidate. Likewise, the parties also advocate for their member group to become a parliamentarian through tribal lines. Currently, there are festivals and ceremonies aimed at party popularization and fund raising eminent at everywhere in and outside the country. Evidently, further efforts are done by Party heads that are visiting countries like Kenya, Burundi, Ethiopia and Uganda whose militaries are fighting inside Somalia, this is just meant to create a friendly environment and sell their political idea to these countries.

The question remains: will these political parties remain active after election? Based on the success in the war against the insurgent al-Shabaab and dependent on the country’s stability, most of the these political parties hope to resume their aspiration towards democracy, as this is the first step towards reconstruction, after 21 years of destruction and civil war.

Which are the political parties in Somalia?

Party Founded located

Democratic party of Somalia(DPS) 27th Oct, 2010 Nairobi, Kenya Somali Team for Reality 2007 ....... Sahahan Qaran party 16th Feb, 2011 Mogadisho Peace and Development party (PDP) 17th April 2011 Mogadisho People party (pp) 2nd June 2011 Mogadisho Rajo Party( RP) 1st May 2012 Nairobi Somali National Party( SNP) Xisbiga Umada .................. Mogadisho Hiil Qaran Mogadisho Midnimo 18th Feb, 2012 Mogadisho Tayo Political party ( TPP) 31st Mar, 2012 Mogadisho Gurmad Qaran 18th Jan, 2012 London Isbahaysiga Nabadda January, 2011 Mogaisho United Somalia Democratic party 6th Jan, 2012 Nairobi Peace and Democratic party (PDP) 20th Dec, 2011 Mogadisho