As the 2016 Somalia Parliamentary election results streamed in from across the regions new faces and old faces in the politics of the horn of Africa country emerged as winners in a poll that has turned out to have its fair share of surprises
It has emerged that the 275 member Lower House and the 54 member Upper House is going to be made up of Mps from different background and experience .
From former warlords to renowned entrepreneurs, Islamists to Musicians, activists, a Fashion designer to a returning refugee this may well be the most diverse parliament in Somalia’s history
One of the surprise wins was that of young Fashion designer Muna Khalif Sheikh popularly known as Muna Kay. Muna Kay was much publicized in the local and international media after she won a seat in the Lower House to represent South West state . She is a well known fashion designer and entrepreneur with outlets in North America, Dubai and East Africa. Born in Somalia Muna Kay and family fled to the US where she grew up and later started her fashion design business. Muna Kay is new in politics as this is her debut in to the Somalia politics
Muna Kay may be a green horn in the politics of the horn of Africa country but she will find herself in debates with old hands in Somali politics
Among the experienced politicians in the next parliament is Farah Sheikh Abdulkadir who leads the Islamist party of Damajadid . Abdulkadir whose political ideology leans towards Islamists will be representing HirShabelle. A close ally of President Hassan Sheikh he is a political figure that has been around since 2012 when he was nominated in to the Federal Parliament of Somalia and his political experience includes a portfolio as Minister of Justice in 2014 where he oversaw the establishment of the Constitutional Review and Implementation Commission and the Judicial Service Commission.
A poet and Singer will also be present in the Parliament. Abdi Shire is a household name known for his critical songs and poems championing the rights of the marginalized by the powerful and corrupt. Through the years his music has been seen as giving the powerless a voice making him an advocate of the downtrodden in the Somali society. Abdi who holds a Masters Degree in Health Planning from the Leeds University in the UK has been preaching against extremism and as a result threatened by radical Islamists after writing and producing a song to condemn the 2009 Shamo Hotel attack on university graduates .
The Federal Parliament will once again be used as a forum by a former Warlord. Bootan Isse was once a warlord controlling parts of Mogadishu alongside Muse Sudi, Mohamed Qanyare and Omar Finish. Isse brings with him to the Parliament years of experience in Somalia politics despite his background in militancy. He has served in the Somali Transitional Government (TFG) as a minister for disarmament of militia but was sacked in 2006 when it was passed that all warlords be disengaged in the government politics. He was part of an Alliance of Warlords that fought against the Islamic Courts Union basically setting him against Islamists
It is clashes sometimes triggered by warlords like Bootan Isse that saw thousands of Somalis flee to seek refuge in neighbouring Kenya which hosted refugees in the Dadaab Refugee Camp the largest in the world.
Ironically this arid camp has produced an MP who will be sharing the platform with ex warlords, singers and Islamists in the next parliament. Little known 31 year old Abdullahi Sheikh Abbas fought it over against Information Minister Mohamed Abdi Hassan to win a seat as a federal MP representing Jubaland
Abbas is a returning refugee who was grew up and educated in Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya’s North Eastern region
He is one of the youngest politicians in the next Parliament and has had no previous experience in politics. Political analysts attribute the young politician’s win against a high profile politician to the sympathy that has been showered on returning refugees in Jubaland.
Another old hand in Somalia politics making a come back to share forum with new faces will be Ahmed Moalim Fiqi who has served as the Director of the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) and one of the founder of Al-sheikh Islamist Group. He is also the Secretary General of the Daljir Party (XD) and a seasoned diplomat having served as an ambassador to the Sudan from 2010-201. He also vied for Galmudug presidency
Activist Sagal Abdirazak Isak Bihi will be makig a debut in to Somalia politics representing Jubaland. Bihi a former deputy director of Amisom’s Radio Bar Kulan has been vocal on youth and women rights and actively campaigned to have parliament pass a 30% threshold for women votes in the Somalia elections. She holds a Masters Degree in Project Management and has worked with several Government departments as an advisor.
Bihi vows to continue to champion the cause for women and the youth in her term as an MP
The next Parliament will also be graced by one of the most established entrepreneurs in Somalia among them is Said Nur Garish the co-founder of Jubba Airways one of Somalia’s premier private airlines that continues to enjoy a lion share of passenger and cargo air transport since Somali Airlines became defunct in 1991. He will be representing Galmudug
Another notable big time entrepreneur who will be making his presence in the next parliament felt is Ducale Islow. Islow a multimillionaire contractor has made fortune in his business through contracts with Amisom, international organisations and the Somali government.
It is a Parliament that many Somalis are looking forward to see how the politicians with different backgrounds and experience will be able to add to a nation that is still emerging from more than two decades of civil war
And with this mix analyst not only foresee more dramatic parliamentary sessions but also challenges ranging from differing political ideologies, vested interests and experience as activists, businessmen, ex warlords, musicians, fashion designers, returnees all find themselves sworn to debate matters that will charter this horn of Africa country to a better tomorrow for the ordinary citizen