POLITICAL THUGGERY: A Disastrous Phenomenon in the Somali Electoral Process

In order for there to be a meaningful political development and a relative economic growth, it is a logical approach to ensure a somehow relative peace and stability throughout Somalia. In other words, the development agenda or the plan in any society or country is more likely to be successfully implemented if thereis a stable atmosphere devoid of dangers and political rancor.

And on this progressive intuition, this is the neediest time to talk or to write honestly & transparently about the political thuggery phenomenon which injures severely this relative stability, to guide our political development and economic growth in an intelligent way and to determine unanimously our common destiny So, let us first know what does political thuggery mean? What are the causes of political thuggery? What will be the effects of political thuggery? Are there some vivid activities related to this problem that can be found in Somali politicians’behaviors at all levels (federal, state, and municipal).

What does political thuggery mean?

First and foremost, let us clarify what does political thuggery mean? The term is composed of two words political & thuggery. The word ‘political’ indicates something relates to the politics, to the government, or public affairs of a country, while the word ‘thuggery’ denotes a violent behavior, especially of a criminal nature. The word is hence clothed with criminal flavor and is thus related with all its negative synonyms such as savagery, brutal acts, bullying, hooliganism, gangsterism, assassinations, professional killers, criminal, troublemakers. Notwithstanding, the ‘political thuggery’ this will clearly indicate an act of thuggery in connection to the political process. Hence, political thuggery can be defined as any act of terrorizing, viciousness, violence, hooliganism, assassins, gangsterism, whether it leads to death or not, intended to pose a danger or scale political opposition or perceived political opponents before, amid or after elections and aimed at attaining an undue political result or undue influence.

Thus, the political thug exercises can be as follows.

Inciting or causing others to act in a scattered way.
Being in unlawful ownership of or utilization of hostile/offensive weapons in order to frighten or threaten voters, or to impose restrictions on an ongoing process.
by compelling any individual to vote for or against or abstain from voting against his/her will.
Employing illegally social media activists by allocating them a lot of public funds to attack fiercely oppositions leaders or former politicians such as presidents, prime ministers, ministers, etc., and the main aim is to humiliateand downsize them, to not be rivals.
Making an electoral fraud ‘which is an unlawful obstructionwith the electoral process’ by utilizing the office authority.
Snatching, burning or devastation of election materials.
Assassinating or kidnapping the competitive candidate by officeholders or other rival groups or vice versa.
Organizing drug cartels ‘which is an illegal consortium of autonomous organizations shaped to restrain competition and control the generation and distribution of illicit drugs, such as khat, marijuana, etc. ‘ by abusing the government power.

The causes of the political thuggery:

Financial gains – the political position may be a profitable office, so the most of politicians are prepared to do whatever is possible to hold or to get a political position. So, for these mental imaginations, the politics may be a matter of live or die.
Money in politicsIn Somalia, political offices have been transferred to money (it’s monetized). It is effortless joband it is simple to get the benefits after you arrive at the office. Surprisingly, on some parliamentary chairs in the electoral times spent a lot of money by competitors, whichranging from half a million to a million US dollars. And to note worth that the monthly salary of parliamentary member is only three thousand US dollars (3,000 USD); and its total in the four years of the parliamentary mandate shall be one hundred and forty-four US dollars (144,000USD), and therefore once they arrive at the Office, they turn their backs without giving any attention to the public and their voters, While they are starving, their representatives are struggling to regain their investment and to make  millions of dollars,  and the voter wait and wait until another round comes, but unfortunately they do the same, and no change at all. that is, they are going around in a vicious circle that has no beginning and no end.
Poverty & unemployment – as the google engine demonstrates the destitution in Somalia is right now 73%, and the 70% of the population is beneath the age of 30. Unemployment among youth is far reaching, as 67 percent of youth are unemployed. So, it is simple for aspiring politicians to advantage these destitute & unemployed youth by providing paltry sums of money.
Bad leadership: bad leadership is the political thuggery entrance, because bad leaders will only focus on the thoughts that support their viewpoint. They will neglect contrasting suppositions or opinions and will not listen when the individual they disagree is talking. They will dodge having open dialogs or discussions with those around them and will instead return to their own conclusions when making all decisions. Bill Carney says: “leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.” And then he/she will begin to use political thuggery tactics to fill that vacuum; which paves them to the path of authoritarianism and totalitarianism.

The effects of political thuggery:

The political thuggery makes the elective office holders unaccountable to the publics.
The political thuggery prevents the emergence of credible candidates.
The political thuggery increments wrongdoing rates and insecurity of lives.
The political thuggery creates a lack of confidence in other groups, and it closes all possible understandings and open discussions.
The political thuggery increases the social differences, and it is the catalyst of the country division into fiercely rivaling and brutally warring segments. Because there is a Somali proverb that indicates that “brothers and sisters who hate each other will have many graves.” That is, they die more than brothers & sisters who love each other.
The Political bullying/thuggery is a threat to majority rule and citizens’ rights.
The political thuggery makes voting insignificant convention and encourages rigging elections.

Some Examples of Political Thuggery in Somalia:

Nowadays, at its federal, state, and municipal levels, the Somali government are imbued with some – if not all – traits of political bullying in some of its aspects of political activities. Simply, all the followings are really the prime examples of a type of political thuggery:

Starting with the election process of a large number of leaders of the federal member states; such as the South West state of Somalia (December 19, 2018), Galmudug state (February 2, 2020) & Hirshabelle state (November 12, 2020); no competition was reported in election of those states, but there was some kind of selection which based on personal partiality and preference.
The two years extension program that was organized and proposed from both the presidential & intelligence offices without considering the catastrophic conditions the country is going through, which in the April 12, 2021 was passed by the House of Representatives of the Somali Parliament in the majority without reading the surrounding conditions, and without taking into account the dire consequences of their reckless decisions, and in the same token  the outgoing Somali president (Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo) adopted without analyzing the expected reactions by opposition leaders and civil society organizations;
In addition to dividing the national army into two groups: a pro-extension group and a pro-opposition group; which leads to an armed confrontation in the Mogadishu capital(in Abril 25, 2021) that relatively enjoying some kind ofstability in the last ten years, except some explosions & sporadic attacks by Al-Shabab group.
As well as the nomination procedures for both the Federal Election Implementation Team (FEIT) The State Election Implementation Team (SEIT) which its members were mostly civil servants and intelligence personnel;
Other thing to note is the dramatically acting of the senate election process in all federal member states, by selecting specific candidates and reserving their seats without competition on the basis of loyalty or returning previous favors, except Hirshabelle state which still in progress; and
Last not the least, what is inevitable to pay attention to, is how political parties are established in Somalia that refers to some kind of political bullying. On 29 May 2017, the Somali Political Parties Registration Office was set up in Mogadishu. The office’s work is to bring the nation to the party system and take it from the current 4.5 clan power-sharing framework. But tragically, the uncountable political parties have been established, and there is no any so-calleddistinction in their belief systems and political ideologies.  Ironically, the democratic world that we live in is more and more flexible than the other law-based world that other social orders exist in. If they want to realize one man, one vote, we aim to achieve one man, one party. And this idea will proceed unless the political offices are made less appealing and seen as a sacrificial service and an obligation not a profitable trade.


All these considerations, political thuggery includes the behavior of mastery or domination, and marginalization of specific segments, discriminating of certain bunches, or special ethnic people in the acquisition and sharing political positions, rigging of elections, abusing power, and manipulating of political process, and the electoral mechanics and its technicalities in favor or against certain bunches, areas, or people.

Name: Mohamed Yusuf Ali

Master degree: International Relations



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