Somalia has named 202 members to parliament. Their choice for president was slated for Monday, but the announcement has been delayed.
The Foreign Ministry of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) announced on Saturday that the Technical Selection Committee (TSC) has given it’s approval to around three fourths of the candidates for parliament.
Somali “elders” drew up a list of parliamentarians, which was then handed over to the TSC. The TSC is then supposed to “evaluate and approve all nominees,” according to the Garowe Principles, a set of agreements between the TFG, regional representatives, and the UN.
The committee blocked some of those who were recommended by elders from serving in the new government because of “their connection or role in the two decades of conflict,” according to the Foreign Ministry. Reasons for rejections could include involvement in the Somali civil war, affiliations with warlords, or being involved in human rights abuses.
On Sunday the UN, African Union, and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development issued a joint statement saying, “the international community welcomes the important progress that Somalia’s leaders and people have made in getting to this stage.”
Democratic deficits in the selection processes have led to conjecture about how objectively parliamentarians are being vetted. The Government of the semi-autonomous Puntland region issued a press release praising the TSC, but said that it was “concerned about the reported interference, intimidation and manipulation aiming to undermine the TSC discretion.”
Others are less worried about the selections than they are about the way the UN process is structured as a whole.
In an essay in World Politics Review, political science professor Ken Menkhaus gives voice to large segments of people, both in Somalia and abroad, who doubt that the new government, midwifed by the UN rather than directly elected by the Somali people, will look much different than the inept and hated TFG. “The reality is that the post-transition government will be unable to project its authority beyond much of the capital, Mogadishu,” Menkhaus writes.
Opinion writers in the Somaliland press have been less circumspect in their criticism. In a recent article in the Somiland Times, published in the all-but-nominally independent Somaliland region, Dr M Omar Hashi rails against the UN process. He writes that the parliamentarians are not legitimate, but rather “un-elected killers and thieves,” adding “nor is the upcoming government anything but an un-representative tool to further dispossess and abuse the long suffering victims of Mogadishu.”
The Garowe Principles promise universal elections after the first term of parliament, if the situation becomes more stable.