Somalia: Leading Candidates in Somali September 10 Election

Photo: Stuart Price/UN Photo
Swearing in of new parliament.

Somalia will on September 10, 2012 go to the polls to elect their president after several delays in the election process; more than 35 candidates are vying for country's top position. Below, we take a summary look at the prominent and leading presidential candidates which includes incumbent president Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.

Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed

48 year old Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed is the current president of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) whose term ended on 20th August.

Ahmed is the ninth president of Somalia and former commander in chief of the Islamic Courts Union-a previously militaristic organization that had significant control over the country, which has now reformed into a Somalian political party.

In 1992, Ahmed enrolled at the University of Kordofan in Sudan and transferred two years later to Open University in Libya, graduating in 1998 from the College of Sharia and Law. He taught Geography, Arabic and Religious Studies at Juba Secondary School until 2004, when he was nominated to lead the Islamic Courts Union (ICU). The ICU was an alliance comprising regional Sharia courts that controlled most of southern Somalia.

In 2007, Ahmed left the ICU and with other former members founded an opposition group called the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia. He later entered into UN sponsored negotiations with the transitional government under the late President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, and joined Somalia's transitional parliament.

Ahmed was elected to succeed Yusuf after the latter resigned in December 2008. Ahmed took office January 31, 2009.

Abdiweli Mohamed Ali

Sixty-two (62) year Abdiweli Mohamed Ali was appointed Prime Minister on June 23, 2011, and received an overwhelming 437 votes of the 441 present Members of Parliament (2 voted against it and 2 abstained)-a national record!

He was the director of the tax department at the Ministry of Finance and Revenue from the mid-to-late 1980s. From 1988 to 1991, he was an assistant director at the Research and Statistics department at the Ministry of Finance and Revenue.

After that, he immigrated to the United States to continue his higher education.

He received his master's degree from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee in 1988 and then obtained another master's degree in public administration from Harvard University in 1999. He received his Ph.D. in economics from George Mason University in Virginia in 2000.

In 2003, Ali taught economics at Niagara University in New York until he joined Somalia's transitional government as deputy prime minister and minister of planning and international cooperation.

Ali is highly experienced in academia and academic research, development and economic politics as well as financial and public administration. He worked for several international agencies including The World Bank and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

According to his website (http://drabdiweligaas.com) He is credited for devising Somalia's now-successful peace process, mostly referred to as the "Roadmap to End the Transitional period". With strong international support and a nation yearning for peace, Dr. Abdiweli devised the implementation plan for executing this political process which has now set the country for new political dispensation.

Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aadan

Another key contender, Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aadan was born in 1946 in Bardaale to a family originally from the Bay and Bakool regions.

Aadan entered politics in 2004 when he was elected speaker of the parliament in Somalia's transitional government. He held that position until 2007 when he was ousted for holding unauthorized talks with members of the Islamic Courts Union.

Aadan was appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance when President Ahmed took office in 2009, and became one of the most prominent figures in the cabinet of former Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke.

In May 2010, the Somali parliament re-elected Aadan as its speaker.

Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo

Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo was born in 1962 in Mogadishu to a family originally from Gedo in south-western Somalia.

In 1985, he was appointed as First Secretary at the Somali embassy in Washington DC.

In 1989, he left to earn his bachelor's degree in history from the University of Buffalo in New York. During this time, Farmajo applied for political asylum in the United States after the government collapsed in 1991.

He continued his studies at the University at Buffalo and obtained a master's degree in political sciences and international relations.

After becoming an American citizen, he went on to hold several jobs in New York State, including the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority, the Erie County Division of Equal Employment Opportunity, and the New York State Department of Transportation.

President Ahmed appointed Farmajo as prime minister in October 2010 to succeed Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, who resigned from his post following a dispute.

Farmajo resigned from this post in June 2011 under pressure from the international community as part of the Kampala Accord between President Ahmed and the Speaker of Parliament Aadan, during which the mandate of the transitional institutions was extended to August 20, 2012.

In 2011, Farmajo founded a new political party, the Somali Justice and Equality Party, also known as Tayo. Farmajo is currently secretary general for Tayo, which is chaired by Dr. Mariam Qasim, his former minister of women's affairs. Tayo is the first Somali political party headed by a woman.

Farmajo speaks Somali and English and holds dual Somali and US citizenship.

Mohamed Ghedi

52-year-old Ali Mohamed Ghedi a qualified vet, is relatively unknown in political circles, and was only sworn in as a member of Somalia's parliament-in-exile hours before his appointment, after a Mogadishu warlord gave up his seat for him.

In 1981, Ghedi returned to Mogadishu where he taught at the Somali National University College of Veterinary Medicine, eventually becoming its head until the government collapse of 1991.

Ghedi served as prime minister of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government under the administration of President Abdullahi Yusuf from 2004 to 2007, when he resigned.

This is the second time that Ghedi is running for the presidency; the first was in 2009. Ghedi speaks Somali, Italian and English.

Abdirahman Abdullahi Baadiyow

Last but not the least is Abdirahman Abdullahi Baadiyow who was born in 1954 in Galguduud in central Somalia.

Baadiyow joined the Somali National Army in 1971, reaching the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and remained in active duty until 1986, when he left the military due to President Siad Barre's military response against clan-based armed factions that were emerging against his regime.

After leaving the armed forces, he enrolled at McGill University in Canada where he earned a master's degree and a PhD in Islamic studies.

He returned to Somalia in 1993 as the East Africa Regional Director of Mercy-USA for Aid and Development, a non-profit organization that works to provide relief and promotes economic and educational development.

In 1996, he co-founded Mogadishu University where he serves as the current chairman of the Board of Trustees.

In 2000, Baadiyow took part in the Somalia National Peace Conference held in Djibouti and was selected as a member of the Technical Committee charged with overseeing the charter for the Transitional National Government.

This election is set to be held in Somali soil for the first time in two decades and Somalis during this year's election expect to see new faces and educated people with majority youth and public support gain power so that issues like illiteracy and poverty may be best addressed.

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