How to Succeed in Somalia’s Clan Politics

Based on my personal observation as well as other keen observers of concern of recent clan competitive elections in Somalia in the absence of a multi-party democratization option, to succeed one needs a combination of four critical elements:

  1. A strong support from sub-clan power base as a launching pad.
  2. A network of committed, proactive and engaged groups of people, who are driven by ideology, professional or business interests beyond their clan attachments ( e.g. a basis for a political party).
  3. An early mobilization of necessary financial resources, and at least, one year of organizational preparation leading to sound and strategic planning.
  4. A strong media coverage of the election campaign.
In this context, running for election on someone’s own financial resources is a recipe for financial ruin, an unsustainable exercise for self-destruction. Most importantly, clan-based selected MPs would never conclusively represent the aspirations of the masses they were supposed to represent. They are easily manipulated by corrupt money, group interests or personal financial obligations as clearly demonstrated in all recent elections in Somalia.
It is also remarkable to note here that this clan-based selection of MPs, some of them represent their constuencies less than others, making them especially soft targets for corruption and personal intimidation.

Tragically, it is safe to conclude now that recent Somalia’s clan-based elections have fundamentally eroded and discredited the moral legitimacy of traditional leadership, a victim of corrupt money and political manipulation.

Somalia’s elections based on clan selection arrangements for its constituent parliaments have finally hit a dead-end. If not discontinued, these will certainly lead to renewed political unrests and violence.


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Author: Warsame Digital Media WDM

About the blogger: This blog is associated with the former Chief of Staff in Puntland State Presidency, 1998-2005. He also worked with the UN and World Bank Joint Secretariat for Somalia’s Re-construction and Development Program (RDP), 2005-2006, as a Zonal Technical Coordinator for Puntland and later as National Aid Technical Coordinator with the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia and European Union. He is now an independent political analyst and commentator on current issues and occasionally gives historical perspective on modern Somalia’s politics. He lives and works in Toronto, Canada. He can be reached at:

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