Somalia Elects Parliament Speakers Amid Controversy

Newly elected MPs

Following a tumultuous week, the two chambers of the 11th Somali parliament, whose members were sworn in on April 14, finally elected their speakers and deputy speakers. The process is nonetheless marred by endless controversy.

On the eve of the April 26 election, a controversy erupted after the House of the People interim speaker Abdisalam Dhabancad secretly organized a swearing-in for 16 individuals illegally “elected” in Elqalow, at a Kenyan border military base.

Dhabancad, an octogenarian close to Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble, reportedly received bribes from Saeed Deni totaling $250,000 for doing so.

The senate speakers’ election however was not affected by the scandal that pitted members of the parliament against each other. On April 26, Senator Abdi Hashi Abdullahi succeeded his reelection as speaker of the senate for another 4 years. Abdi Hashi, a representative from Somaliland, is a veteran of Somali politics.

He recently angered Prime Minister Roble, whom he accused of surrounding himself with his clan and hijacking electoral delegates from the northern regions.

A year ago, Abdi Hashi temporarily collaborated with the Council of Presidential Candidates following his opposition to the president but walked away from them soon after.

The senate also elected Ali Shaban Ibrahim, a young newcomer to politics, as the first deputy president. He represents the Hirshabelle and is close to Yusuf Dabageed, Hirshabelle vice-president. Dabageed recently decried Prime Minister Roble’s detrimental hands in his region.

Eventually, Abdullahi Hersi “Timacadde”, from Puntland was chosen as second vice-president. Timacadde recently broke with Saeed Deni who wanted to stop him from running for the job. Timacadde was a loyal minister in Saeed Deni’s Puntland administration until recently.

On April 27, there was a scramble in parliament as the interim speaker refused to submit the list of MPs for clearance to the police. His goal was to smuggle in the illegally elected “Elqalow 16”. The situation was resolved after the opposition met with the Police Chief, General Abdi Hassan Hijar and all Gedo MPs were barred from voting.

The election was finally held after 8 hours delay. The MPs elected Sheikh Adan Mohamed Nur, known as Adan Madobe, as speaker of parliament. Sheikh Adan Madobe, a veteran politician, won by a wide margin.

A career Koranic teacher, he joined armed factions in the South West region and was number two in the Rahanweyne Resistance Army (RRA) before joining federal politics like many other warlords of his generation. Sheikh Adan is now a member of Sharif Sheikh Ahmed’s Himilo Qaran party.

On the 28th, the two deputy speakers of the House of the People were elected in a calmer climate than the day before. For the first time in the history of Somalia, a woman has been elected to this post. Sadia Yasin Samatar was noticed last year for using a whistle in parliament to disrupt a speech by the president.

Sadia comes from Puntland and had submitted her candidacy for this position against Saeed Deni’s advice. Deni, who is himself a presidential candidate, wanted to be the only candidate from his region for a high-level position in the federal administration.

This women’s rights activist has spent most of her time opposing President Farmajo’s policies at the previous parliament. Yet, that day she won over an opponent supported by Saeed Deni and Hassan Sheikh Mahamoud thanks to the votes of the president’s supporters.

MP Abdullahi Omar Abshirow, the former Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources won the post of Deputy Speaker. Abshirow hails from the Southwest region. He is close to Abdi-Aziz Laftagareen, Southwest State president.

Despite the mix of diversity, clan, gender, age and experience, the mess left by Roble’s handling of the election is still there. It is now up to the new parliament to sort out the Gedo thorny issue and Fahad Yasin case.

The new president, Mr. Adan Madobe, will need a broad-based consultation to resolve these issues and prepare for the presidential election without further delay.