Finally the much awaited date has been set . 8 February will be the Day for at least 22 candidates -or less depending on final registration-seeking to take over one of the worlds most challenging jobs: Being The President of Somalia.
The clock is ticking with 12 days remaining and with each day the graphs and polls on each candidate changing. Candidate A is up today and B,s graph down but next day the tables turn.
With 10 political camps pitched in the capital all focus is on the 329 Mps and who will be deciding the destiny of this country that is still emerging from a 26 years of conflict.
It is going to be a different battle. A battle to control these Mps who half of them have been known to lack a political stance and loyalty jumping ships at will and to emerge a winner in such a battle analysts say only the smartest of the candidates will sail through if he will know how to play around his cards in regard to the following:
- 1-Alliance opportunities
- 2 Finance
- 3-Clan politics
- 4-Political experience
- 5-Charisma and Influence
Today we analyze four candidates favored by recent polls as the top candidates in the February Presidential election´
We take a look at their background and weigh their chances
HASSAN SHEIKH MOHAMUD
He is the incumbent and has not wasted a chance to use that position to push for his agenda campaigning all year round in 2016. Mohamud has the backing of Mps allied to the Damuljadid political wing and is rounding up some 100 Mps from different constituencies who analysts say are loyal to him
An alliance between Mohamud and Sharif Hassan who was technically locked out of the race by the 4.5 system may be just what the incumbent needs to retain his residency at Villa Somalia.
Sources say that an Addis initiated mediation had been aimed at creating an Alliance between the two. Sharif Hassan has some 30Mps from his Digil Mirifle clan and that plus the 100 from then Damuljadid is all the tyranny of numbers that can sway the direction of the election.
But the question is how united is the Digil Mirifle block in Parliament considering that Sharif Hassan is not the only leader from the clan to call shots.
Speaker Mohamed Jawari is said to have 15 loyal Mps, Fowzia 15, Abdifatah Gesey 10 the remaining pledge their loyalty to Sharif Hassan Mohamud has the finances and analysts say his campaign has the most funding compared to other candidates. He also has the backing of the regions military might Ethiopia.
His second term ambitions may however be doomed if all candidates form an alliance against him hence leading to a second round as it happened in the 2012 elections when all the candidates backed him against Sharif Sheikh and he won the election. Hassan sheikh was neck to neck with Sharif Sheikh 64 to 60 but candidates Abdikadir Osoble Ali 27 Abdiweli Gaas 30 Abdillahi Adow 24 Abdirahman Baadiyow 21 Farmajo 14 and Yusuf Garad backed the incumbent.
Mohamud will be hoping to gunner 167 votes to win in the first round and avoid a second round which he dreads his plan B would be to create an alliance with incumbent Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Sharmake and assure him of retaining his premiership among the top contenders the only candidate he can strike a deal with is Sharmake.
SHARIF SHEIKH AHMED
The former President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed came to public limelight as the leader of the Islamic Courts Union who declared war against invading Ethiopian troops in 2006 . Upon his defeat he went into exile and later formed an alliance against Abdullahi Yusuf.s government making their base in Asmara Eritrea. After the US declared him a “moderate” he ran for presidency in 2009 where he managed to gunner support of 500 Mps to become President.
Sharif was also leader of Aa -Sheikh a group of influential Islamic scholars and businessmen who took half the portfolios in his first cabinet during his reign Alshabaab was in existence in the capital but later the militant were ousted. He was seen then as a charismatic and a hands on President.
His weakness was that he lacked permanent political allies . He lost most of his allies in Aal -Sheikh after his lose in the 2012 presidential elections.
Sharif has 3 factors he relies on to boost chances of winning the election
1- His experience as a former President
If the influential Aa-Sheikh back him upon an agreement expected this week his chances will be boosted
2-He has received funding from businessmen and unknown governments
- People are looking for change . He is seen as a tested leader and therefore offers an alternative to a fellow Hawiye leader to the incumbent Mohamud
OMAR ABDIRASHID SHARMAKE
Sharmake boasts an estimated 80% of Puntland MPs in the Parliament . It is said he has the backing of the United Arab Emirates a country that has become a major player in the Somalia political scenario.
He is seen as a competent Prime Minister having held the positions in two different terms the first one from 2009-2010 under Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and re appointed by Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in 2014 the man he will be trying to unseat.
The politician who has a dual Somali Canadian citizenship is the son of the second President of Somalia Abdirashid Ali Sharmake who was assassinated in 1969.
His C.V also includes Ambassador of Somalia to Washington. Analysts see him as a politician who can easily be swayed and controlled without much challenge from him . He has no alignment and has good relations with all political wings including the Islamists. He is seen by many as a moderate.
His weakness however is said to be unfulfilled pledges in his premiership but this has mostly been blamed on the cold relations between the PM and the President.
Politicians who have dealt with him criticise him of negating promises especially on appointments to political positions .
MOHAMED ABDULLAHI MOHAMED FARMAJO
His charisma and popularity was evidence as the Prime Minister from 2010 to 2011 serving in the Sharif Sheikh Ahmed administration.
A New York based bureaucrat with dual Somali and American citizenship he won hearts and minds when of the military by assuring of timely salaries.
He is seen by analyst as more of a technocrat than a politician having served for many years in the New York State department of Transport. Some analysts for this reason feel he is detached to Somali politics.
Gauged by his reception upon return to Mogadishu recently after four years in the US following his 2012 defeat he seems to be the most popular candidates with the public.
He has a well organized campaign team led by former Aljazeera journalist Fahad Yasin who is thought to be the kingmaker of President Mohamud in 2012 thanks to his Qatari contacts. He parted ways with Mohamud after his recommendation that Farmajo becomes the PM was rejected
Farmaajo has a base of 20 Mps and enjoys the advantage that he is the only candidate from the Mareehan clan. With the parliament having some 40% fresh faces (Youth ) analyst believe the public which doesn’t vote may sway the wave and impact on the choice which Mps will make and if this happens Farmajo is likely to sail through .
His critics say he is more of a nationalist than a politician citing a 2010 events where ordered the UN and international organisations to relocate to Somalia instead of operating from Nairobi and channeling money meant for Somalia into the Kenya economy. He was also seen to be championing for an alternative to replace the Amisom troops in Somalia seeking their exit. His speeches and press statements were marked by criticism of the international community with the slogan that its time Somalia needs to be financially independent instead of depending on aid from donor countries.