Somalia adopts direct universal suffrage for 2024 elections
The electoral system reforms aim to encourage multiparty ruling and give citizens the power of choice in a one-person, one-vote system.
Somalia will adopt a reformed electoral system in their 2024 elections that are based on a one-person, one-vote universal suffrage and that is aimed to enable a "multiparty political" governing structure.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who was elected in May, vowed last March to end the current voting system that was introduced in 1969 during the rule of former President Siad Barre.
"The basic principles should be that the election of the Federal Somali Republic must be one that gives the public the opportunity to cast their votes democratically in a one-person, one-vote system," the government said after reaching an agreement with federal state leaders.
The new system aims to "encourage the multiparty political system" that is independent and "corruption free", it added.
The political scene in the African country can be described as a consociational system, where a select few parties divide among each other the main positions in the country, including the seats of prime minister, cabinet speaker, and lawmakers for the national assembly, which, in turn, chooses the president.
The rivalry between the ruling echelon was exploited by Al-Qaeda-affiliated group, Al-Shabaab, that occupied areas of the country and is using them to launch terrorist attacks against the army and civilians.
Politics not about dominance
The semi-autonomous state of Puntland in Somalia held the first direct elections on Thursday. The universal suffrage system was used for the first time since 1969.
The UN, African Union, and several neighboring countries praised the "historic" vote.
"The partners believe that Puntland's experience with direct elections has the potential to inform and inspire the expansion of democracy across Somalia, at all levels of government," they said in a statement.
The electoral reforms agreement was reached following four days of discussions by the National Consultative Forum, which included the President, Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre, and federal government leaders.
However, Puntland's President did not attend the meeting amid vote casting.
The agreement also constitutes that the president and vice-president are directly elected by the people, which sidelines the powers of the prime minister's position.
"Politics is not about dominance, it is about organisation of ideas and therefore, the clan politics is not relevant to the Somali national politics," Mohamud said when pledging universal suffrage in March.
"I can see a bright future for this country."
Mohamud is the country's first president to be re-elected for a second term, after being in office from 2012 to 2017.