President pressures Somali national to withdraw from race for IPU presidency

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s efforts to force a Somali national to withdraw from an international body election race in favor of a Tanzanian national once again highlight the level of corruption Somalia is dipped in under his tenure.

Ms. Marwa Abdi Bashir Hagi, a sitting Somali Federal Member of Parliament, is a candidate for the position of President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. The MP is well placed to win this election which will take place on October 27 in Luanda, Angola.

But the young woman, who previously had secured the full support of both houses of the Somali parliament, finds herself facing unexplained and inexplicable opposition from President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

The young candidate had been approached earlier by people close to the president, then the prime minister who is from Marwa’s clan to get her to pull out from the electoral race in favor of the candidate from Tanzania.

She was promised half a million dollars and the post of foreign minister but she refused to concede, insisting on running for office against all odds as she appears to be the favorite among the four all-females candidates.

Two days ago, a letter addressed to the IPU by Adan Madoobe, Speaker of the Lower House, announcing, without Marwa’s knowledge, that she was withdrawing her candidacy, added fuel to the fire and sparked the anger of some of the legislators who supported her.

The president has shown the extent to which he can go to prevent a fellow citizen from accessing a prestigious position for the country and the continent and give a winning edge to the candidate from a foreign country.

According to our sources, the Tanzanian president had asked the Somali president to convince Marwa to quit and give Tulia Ackson, a controversial Tanzanian candidate, a chance to win. In exchange for this service, President Hassan Sheikh’s children would have their studies and residency paid for in Tanzania.

Adan Madoobe letter to the IPU

Moreover, Tanzania pledged support Somalia’s accession to the East African Community market that the Somali government has been coveting since last year.

Not only does the government’s actions discredit Somalia in order to obtain benefits, but it also creates animosity among the clan of the young candidate and the Somali public in general who are tired of the president’s pettiness.

Notably, President Hassan Sheikh is not his first time when it comes to blocking a Somali from heading an international body.

Earlier this year, the president refused to support former finance minister Abdirahman Beileh‘s candidacy for the post of president of the African Development Bank. One of the criteria for accessing such position is to obtain the support of one’s country of origin.

Whether it is the IPU or the AfDB, Somalia would have benefited greatly from having the right people and the right place. First of all, Somalia would have increased visibility and a powerful voice before these international bodies as in the case of Justice Abdulqawi Yusuf at the International Court of Justice.

Moreover, in the case of Beileh who had a long career in African banking, Somalia would have received funding for all its development projects.

If the distant Awdal does not have sufficient leverage in Mogadishu to put pressure on the president, Marwa does have the support of her clan which is well represented in the federal parliament and government in addition of the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, where Marwa comes from.