First Published: 2017-01-11

Somalia speaker election narrows field for presidency
Re-election of speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari means fellow clansman Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan will be forced to withdraw from presidential race according to tribal-based politics.
Middle East Online

Somalia lawmakers place hands on Quran as they are sworn into parliament

MOGADISHU - Somalia's newly-installed lawmakers chose a speaker of parliament on Wednesday in a vote that, according to the country's clan-based politics, rules out at least one leading presidential candidate.

The re-election of former speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari took place at a heavily-guarded police academy in the capital Mogadishu where he won 141 votes from 259 MPs, enough for a first-round victory, according to Osman Elmi Boqore who chaired the session.

Fears that Somalia's Shabaab insurgents might target the election meant the area close to the voting was on lock-down with many other roads around the city also closed to civilian vehicles.

Clan is the organising principle of Somalia's politics with influential roles such as speaker, prime minister and president divided among the main clans.

The election of 71-year-old Jawari, a member of the Digil and Mirifle clan, means that his fellow clansman, the president of Somalia's federal South West state, Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan, will be forced to withdraw from the presidential race.

The remaining frontrunners are from two of the major clans, the Hawiye and Darod.

Current President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, a 61-year-old former academic and civil society activist from the Hawiye clan is seeking re-election.

Also in the running is ex-president Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, a fellow Hawiye and 52-year-old former leader of the Islamic Courts Union which pacified Somalia before being driven out by US-backed Ethiopian troops.

The leading Darod candidates are the current Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Shamarke, 56, and a former prime minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed 'Farmajo', 55. Both hold dual nationalities having lived for years in Canada and the US respectively.

Jawari's previous term as speaker was characterised by political wrangling and grindingly slow legislative progress, but he cemented his reputation as an outspoken politician who took a tough stance on disputes in parliament.

"I promise to lead the house of the people with integrity," Jawari said after his election.

The election of the parliamentary speaker marks the beginning of the end of Somalia's drawn-out electoral process that saw 14,025 delegates voting for 275 parliamentary seats distributed according to clan with the 72 seats in a new upper house shared out according to region.

Some seats remain unfilled, but sufficient lawmakers were sworn in late last month to move forward with votes for speakers of both houses and the presidency, expected later this month.

Somalia has not had an effective central government since the 1991 overthrow of president Siad Barre's military regime which ushered in decades of anarchy and conflict in a country deeply divided along clan lines.

The clan rivalries and lawlessness provided fertile ground for the Al-Qaeda linked Shabaab to take hold and seize territory, frustrating efforts to set up a central administration.

After a series of transitional governments were formed abroad, a previous parliament was chosen by 135 clan elders and set up in Mogadishu in 2012.

The 2016 process is seen as taking the country a step closer to a universal suffrage election now planned for 2020.

 

Hamas calls US unity comments ‘blatant interference’

Power shifts again in Iraq's multi-ethnic Kirkuk

Erdogan says may shut Iraqi border at any moment

Haley: Iran must be judged in totality of its aggressive behaviour

Jobless Tunisians seek new migration routes to Europe

G7, tech giants meet to tackle terror online

Tensions flare among Yemen's rebels

Baghdad court issues arrest warrant for Iraqi Kurd VP

Erdogan, Nigerian counterpart to ramp up cooperation

Russian medics operate on Yemen's Saleh despite embargo

Baghdad condemns oil deal between Russia’s Rosneft, Kurds

Turkish police detain leading civil society figure

Syrian general accused of journalist deaths killed in Deir Ezzor

Raqa liberators ready for civilian handover, on to next battle

Revolutionary Guards say Iranian missile program will continue

Erdogan calls on three major mayors to resign

ICC investigating several war crimes in Mali

Tunisian couple jailed for 'public indecency' over car kiss

Next round of Syria talks at end October

Gazans hope Palestinian reconciliation ends their woes

PSG's Khelaifi to be quizzed in Swiss World Cup probe

UN urges de-escalation in Iraq

EU says Israeli settlements illegal under international law

Kurdish independence goes from dream to dust

Female commander more than just poster girl for Raqa victory

Saudi airline flies to Baghdad for first time in 27 years

Wanted Dead: France's approach to IS jihadists

Saudi Arabia to monitor interpretations of prophet's sayings

Italy busts Libyan diesel smugglers

Khamenei vows to 'shred' nuclear deal if US pulls out

Fate of IS fighters in Raqa uncertain

Turkish Red Crescent concerned by Idlib humanitarian ‘drama’

US firm to build solar plants in Gaza

Ghost city Raqa scanned for survivors, bombs

Bahrain accuses Iran of harbouring 160 'terrorists'

Qatar says Gulf crisis hindering fight against IS

Qatar emir calls for talks on visit to Indonesia

Iraq calls on BP to help develop Kirkuk oil

Israeli forces raid Palestinian media offices linked to Hamas

French parliament is set to pass new anti-terror law

Baghdad says mission accomplished in Kurd operation

Israel says no to Palestine talks until Hamas disarms

IS territory down to almost 10% of 2014 ‘caliphate’

Over 3000 civilians flee Raqa under deal with jihadists

Ideology and objectives clash at Deir Ezzor