Somali officials announced Sunday that the country would institute a direct one-person-one-vote democracy by 2024. This comes after years of attempts to implement direct universal suffrage, first mandated by the Somali legislature in 2019, failed due to political divisions and internal conflict.
The announcement came along with several other reforms to the current Somali electoral structure, including the removal of the position of Premier. The Premier will instead be replaced with a presidential-based system, where the President and Vice President run together on one ticket elected by direct democracy. The new system will be a two-party system and the first local council elections will take place on June 30, 2024. The first regional and national elections under the new system will take place November 30, 2024.
Somali state media outlet SONNA celebrated the historic announcement, saying:
The adoption of the one man, one vote election system in Somalia marks a historic turning point for the country. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s administration has made significant strides in liberating territories from Al-Shabaab, advancing the Somali Debt Relief Program, and initiating crucial electoral reforms. This commitment to democracy, security, economic growth, and self-sufficiency lays the foundation for a brighter future for Somalia and its citizens.
This new system replaces Somalia’s current electoral process, where clan elders elect delegates, who in turn elect all other regional and national political positions.
Currently, Freedom House, an organization that rates and studies democracies globally, has listed Somalia’s democracy as “not free” and given the country an overall rating of eight out of 100. This is a one point improvement over the previous year, with the electoral process in particular receiving a zero out of four in 2022.