Registration of political parties launched in Somalia for the first time in 50 years

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Somalia hit a landmark on Sunday with the official launch of registration of political parties for the first time in nearly 50 years.

This new step is set to replace the current clan-based power sharing system and paves way for candidates to register their party leaders, flag bearers and constitution.

The clan-based power-sharing agreement happens among Somalia’s major clans. The formula allocates one in four seats to each of the major clans in Somalia, and half of one seat to minority clans.

The clan-based quota was used to appoint the 275 seats of the Lower House of parliament: 61 seats for the four major clans, and the minority clans shared the remaining 31. In 2012, 135 Somali elders, nominated by the main clan families, elected parliament. Same formula was used in 2017 although the number of delegates was expanded to thwart vote buying, which tainted the 2012 election.

On Election Day, elected parliamentarians elect the president in three rounds of voting.

This process looks complicated but it gives clans in Somalia an equal say in selecting delegates to decide who rules the country.

The current president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed also nicknamed Farmajo beat the former president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in the February 2017 vote; they are from different clans.

During President Farmajo’s short spell as Prime minister from 2010-11 he pursued transparency, economic prudence and streamlined the cabinet before being ousted in a power struggle. He swiftly won over Somalis with his efforts to improve governance.

This recent move is likely going to be viewed as a step towards Somalia’s gradual emergence from a 30-year civil war although there are concerns.

“It a very long way to the realization of a one man one vote – multiparty election system,” CGTN’s Abdulaziz Billow said. “After three years, authorities hope that the current clan based political structure will be overcome.”

Seven political parties have received their accreditation from the Independent Electoral Commission.

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