Transitional Parliament elects President
Special report (10^th October, 2004)
Col. Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed
NATIONAL RECONCILIATION CONFERENCE
By Khalif Hassan Ahmed, Information and Documentation Officer, Novib Somalia.
The Somali Transitional Federal Parliament elected Hon. Abdullahi Yussuf Ahmed as president of the Somali Transitional Federal Government with 189 votes against the 79 votes of his runner-up, Amb. Abdullahi Ahmed Adow in a function held in Nairobi on October 10th. The election process was witnessed by ministers from Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia and Djibouti. Representatives from the international partners’ forum and about 2000 Somalis gathered to witness the fully charged ceremony.
The house sub-committee on presidential elections chaired by the speaker led the exercise. The process began midday and lasted for over 10 hours. Present to participate in the exercise were 270 members of the 275-member house. The absentees included a hospitalised member, two death cases, Col. Barre Adan Shire and Gen. Ahmed Warsame Isaq reportedly in Kismayo following confrontations with militias led by Gen. Morgan in September 2004. The ceremony opened with the signing of a declaration by all the 26 presidential candidates committing to the election results as well as to disarmament and the hand-over weapons in their disposal.
The first round brought together 26 candidates, including Col. Abdullahi Yussuf Ahmed, Amb. Abdullahi Ahmed Adow, Abdikassim Salad Hassan, Abdirahman Jama Barre – Former foreign minister in Siyad Barre regime, Eng. Hussein Mohamed Farah Aidid, Farah Adow Sindiko, Jeylani Ali Kediye, Muse Suddi Yalahow, Mohamed Qanyare Afrah and Eng. Adow among others. Col. Abdullahi Yussuf won the round with 80 votes while Amb. Abdullahi Ahmed Adow got 35, Mohamed Qanyare – 33, Abdirahman Jama Barre – 18, Abdikassim Salad Hassan – 16 and Eng. Adow garnered 14 votes. The last three candidates dropped their candidature to leave way for the three top candidates to run for the second round.
The only women aspirant for the presidency, Hon. Asha Abdalla secured only two votes. Optimistic Asha felt that Somali women would one time rise for their rights and develop a common thinking to defeat forces of dissimilation.
In the second round, Abdullahi Yussuf remained ahead with 147 followed by 83 votes for Amb. Adow while Qanyare got 38 votes. Some IGAD officials argued that Abdullahi Yussuf stood right to be declared winner but the speaker of the parliament insisted that the third round was vital and had to be completed.
This allowed Abdullahi Yussuf and Amb. Adow to run for the third and final round. After votes count, Abdullahi Yussuf Ahmed emerged the winner with 189 votes against 79 votes of his runner up Amb. Abdullahi Ahmed Adow.
The runner up, Amb. Abdullahi Ahmed Adow who suffered a similar fate in his bid for presidency in Arta Djibouti, was called to the podium to concede. Amb. Adow thanked the Somali parliament, the IGAD region and the international community for their tireless efforts in ensuring that Somalia restores its statehood. In recognition of the resilience shown by members of Somali parliament, he hailed the process as democratic and acknowledged defeat. Adow assured his support for the new transitional government.
In his acceptance speech, Hon. Abdullahi Yussuf Ahmed, the president elect expressed discomfort in running against his colleague and friend and assured the crowd that all would be well and that they would continue building on their previous relationship. The president elect assured citizens of Somalia of his full support to restore Somalia’s integrity, nationhood, reconciliation as well as rebuilding on collective consciousness. “To make dreams of Somalis possible all the people of Somalia have to support the newly formed government,” he remarked. In his message to the people of Somalia, he assured to work day and night to resolve the challenges facing the citizens. He assured them that if finds himself unable to deliver then he would resign rather than clinging to power. While expressing his gratitude to IGAD and the international community, he appealed for diplomatic recognition and an international security force to address the insecurity as well as economic support to enable Somalia to stand on its feet.
Abdullahi Yussuf is a military man who led the first uprising against the government of Siyad Barre. The Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF) was based in Ethiopia and contributed to bringing down the regime of the day. Among the main challenges foreseeable for his administration are the relations with Mogadishu and Somaliland. His region, Puntland and Somaliland dispute the ownership of the Sool region, which has seen its last violent confrontation on September 22 this year.
Observers argue that all would depend on Yussuf’s choice of premiership. According to a Somali intellectual speaking on anonymity, the unity of purpose shown by the armed factions in the elections was a replica of the reality in Somalia, where doors are closed for civic-minded leadership to emerge. In his assertion, a regional actor was seen lobbying intensively for the outcome while the SRRC, which was divided in the past months was reunified and became a force to define the cause of action. “The SRRC and their sympathisers have recovered from previous losses in the election of the speaker,” he said.
Others disagree with the intellectual and argue that the Somali parliament made the right choice given continuous interferences from the neighbouring countries. They say that the president’s closeness to Ethiopia would be a potential opportunity to move beyond past problems towards closer cooperation and partnership. A Somali with sight disability, Mr. Hassan Hussein believes that most of the Somali people are blind and do not feel as such. “We with sight disability acknowledge our weakness and ask for support where necessary. It is the high time that we accept our weakness as evident in our judgements and action,” he said. He appealed to Somalis to support the leadership elected and build on as it might not be the right choice. He also appealed for the support of the international community and reminded them to move beyond wait and see attitude. “We are blind and without a timely intervention, we might trample with our progress. Enough is enough, it is time to take forward steps and overcome retrogressive tendencies, he advised. We are all Somali citizens whether blind, deaf, warlord, peace-lord or rights activists. Lets accept ourselves as one family and avoid confining ourselves to destructive constituencies,” he advised.
In conclusion, the presidential election was assessed by most observers as free and fair, the challenge remains now on the president’s choice for premiership and how that balances power sharing among the main