8 things you need to know about Somalia’s presidential election

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Voting is underway in Somalia’s groundbreaking presidential election in a secure Air Force base in capital, Mogadishu. After a challenging electoral process marred by a lack of credibility, the elections which got postponed three times finally got a fixed date.

Somalia’s elections are an exclusive process given their ethnic nature. The voting system requires lawmakers elected through a clan of elders, instead of an inclusive process with Somali citizens.

Credit: Aljazeera

Out of 24 candidates vying for the presidency, 16 own foreign passports which is a pervasive feature of the political class in Somalia. More than 100 of the nation’s 275 legislators own foreign passports.

The election is held amid a security lockdown that has closed Mogadishu’s international airport and cleared major streets.

Here are 8 things you need to know about the elections:

  1. The legislators voting — 275 members of the lower legislative house and 54 senators are selected by the country’s powerful, intricate network of clans
  2. Marqaati, a Mogadishu based anti-corruption group revealed in a report that votes are being sold for up to $30,000 apiece, making it the most expensive election, per vote in history
  3. Somalia’s constitution doesn’t specify eligibility of foreign passport holders running for presidency, as long as the candidate is a Somali citizen and a Muslim. As long as a candidate is born in Somalia and their father can trace his lineage to a Somali clan, their passport becomes a non-issue
  4. Members of the upper and lower legislative houses dropped their ballots into clear boxes in the first round with 21 candidates for president
  5. Fears of attacks by extremist group al-Shabab limited the election to the country’s legislators who are voting in a heavily guarded Air Force base in Mogadishu
  6. Rounds of voting will narrow the 21 candidates to one winner. Some candidates have dropped from the race
  7. Somalia is trying to put together its first fully functioning central government in a quarter-century, due to incessant warlord-led conflicts, famine and al-Shabab attacks
  8. Somalia’s instability landed it among the seven Muslim-majority countries affected by Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration

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