Somalia’s Televised Debate: Few Candidates Show Up For Final Lap Before Election

On Monday, Somalia closed their presidential campaign with a televised debate–an unexpected one at that.

The televised debate centered on issues such as U.S. President Trump’s travel ban, security and corruption. Somalia is one of the countries banned from entering the United States based on President Trump’s executive order. As a result, many Somalis were stranded at airports, while others were sent back home due to the ban.

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One of the presidential hopefuls, Bashir rage said, “I will tackle the issue of refugees deported from the United States and other countries, and will settle internally displaced people.”

Somalia has been ridden with conflicts for about two decades due to clan divisions.

“Somali clans have fought for many years so I will reconcile them so we have a government that will bring people together,” Mohamud Ahmed Nur Tarsan, a former Mogadishu mayor said.

Although the televised debate was welcome, many felt it was useless as the presidential candidates failed to answer questions that are bearing on Somali’s minds. Average Somalis sought to have the presidential candidates answer questions on wages, how to solve security issues and so on.

Not only is Somalia rid with clan divisions and infightings, but Islamic militants, Al-Shabab who also have a base in the East African country have occasionally fought the UN-backed government in Somalia.

Also despite 23 candidates vying to be President and uniting Somalia, only a few showed up to the debate.

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Somalia’s election was at first, meant to hold in August 2016, however, it was postponed repeatedly until the current date was reached. Due to the al-Shabab insurgency, a direct vote will be impossible. Rather, 135 clan elders chose 14,025 people to select MPs. The 300 members of Somalia’s parliament will then vote for the next president on Wednesday.