On April 26th, the Upper House of Parliament of Somalia re-elected the outgoing Abdi Hashi Abdullahi – former Fisheries Minister and opponent of President Farmajo – to the post of President with 28 votes to 24 for rival Salah Jama and 2 for Minister Osman Abokor Dube. A similar choice was made by the deputies of the Chamber who opted (April 28th) for the opposition candidate Sheikh Aden Madobe, elected with 163 votes in the second round; his most accredited rival, Hassan Abdinur, instead obtained 89 votes.
A more neutral orientation was observed for the election of the vice-presidents, two for each branch. For the Upper House, Ali Sha’ban Ibrahim won 28 votes to 25 against the candidate supported by the President of Galmudug, Farmajo’s ally; the second vice-president of the Senate is Abdullahi Ali Hirsi, close to the President. For the Lower House, Sadia Yasin Samatar – an opposition MP who obtained 30 votes more than her opponent – and Abdullahi Omar Abshirow, who obtained 146 votes compared to 95 for his rival, outgoing vice-president, were elected.
These votes were characterised by twists and turns, including the order given by the Chief of Police and Security of Villa Somalia, Abdi Hassan Hijar, to evacuate the building, which houses the administrative staff of the Parliament. The move came just before the vote for the Upper House and was aimed at slowing it down. Protests ensued, but the decision was also interpreted as a sign of weakness in the presidential circle.
Abdi Hassan Hijar then said that he could not guarantee the security of the vote for the subsequent votes for the presidency of the Lower House and asked for a postponement. Voting took place at the Afisyoni base in Mogadishu instead, whose security was assigned by PM Roble to ATMIS (African Union Transitional Mission in Somalia) personnel.
As Senate Speaker, Hashi questioned the validity of several decisions taken by the Presidency and the Lower House, controlled by Farmajo’s allies. Expressions of jubilation in Mogadishu greeted the election of Aden Madobe, who was contested by other MPs. The two Speakers met to discuss the upcoming joint sessions, for the presidential elections and to approve the 2022 budget law.
The importance of their election is given by the good margin of advantage over their opponents. This suggests that with a single candidate to converge on, President Farmajo will not be re-elected in the presidential election even if his allies manage to secure the few remaining outstanding seats. Aspirants include former Presidents Sheikh Mohamud and Sheikh Ahmed, as well as former PM Ali Kheyre and Puntland leader Deni.
At the moment, a single candidate is not yet on the horizon, and it is likely that others, including Farmajo himself, will withdraw their reservations in the coming days. It is also possible that the prorogued President will now try to agree on the modalities of his retirement. Whether or not new protests and tensions or further attacks occur will be an indicator in the weeks ahead.
The first of these post-election events saw the death of nine soldiers, killed by the explosion of a roadside bomb set off as their convoy, which included senior Somali Armed Forces commanders, passed by. The target of the attack was Gen. Saney Abdulle, who was on his way to Jowhar where elections were to be held for a controversial seat attended by members of his clan. The attack was claimed by Al Shabaab, as were others in the Middle Scebelli against an ATMIS convoy; two Burundian soldiers were killed in the attack (April 29th).