Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud announced that the country will hold the next national elections through universal suffrage, moving away from the indirect voting system that has caused political crises in the past. This marks the first one-person, one-vote election in Somalia in over 50 years.
A Departure from Clan Politics
In the current system, state legislatures and clan delegates select lawmakers for the national parliament, who then elect the president. The new voting system will instead be based on a political party system, with party platforms serving as the “marketplace for selling political ideas,” according to President Mohamud. The upcoming elections, planned for May 2026, will be organized under the new system.
Moving Beyond Clan Rivalries
Somalia’s politics have been organized around clans, with key positions like speaker, prime minister, and president divided among the major clans. However, these rivalries have led to political wrangling and strife, creating fertile ground for groups like the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab militants to exploit. President Mohamud aims to move beyond clan politics, stating that “politics is not about dominance, it is about the organization of ideas,” and that clan politics are not relevant to national politics.
Confronting Multiple Challenges
President Mohamud won a second term in 2017 after defeating 36 other candidates in the midst of a political crisis. Since then, he has pledged to tackle the country’s numerous problems, including rising inflation, drought, and the ongoing threat of Al-Shabaab. He has launched an “all-out war” on the militant group, urging Somalis to help root out its members. While pro-government forces have made gains against the group, Al-Shabaab has shown it can still launch lethal attacks against both military and civilian targets.
A Bright Future
Mohamud believes that a new voting system and a move away from clan politics will help Somalia achieve a brighter future. He stated, “I can see a bright future for this country,” and hopes that the upcoming elections will help facilitate progress towards that future. The move towards universal suffrage and a political party system represents a significant shift in Somali politics, and Mohamud’s success in organizing the new elections will be closely watched by both domestic and international observers.