Hon. Abdullahi Omar Abshir ‘Abshirow’, the 2nd Deputy Speaker of the Somali Parliament, made misleading remarks when discussing the reason behind the Somali government’s support for Tanzania in the race for the presidency of the Inter-Parliament Union (IPU).
In a recent interview with SNTV, Hon. Abshirow defended the letter sent by the Speaker of the House of The People, Adan Madoobe. The letter significantly contributed to the positioning of the Somali candidate, Ms Marwa Abdi Bashir Hagi, who placed fourth with only 11 votes – the lowest of all candidates. Tulia Ackson from Tanzania won the election, receiving 172 votes.
Hon. Abshirow claimed that the Somali Ministry of Foreign Affairs had endorsed Tanzania as the preferred candidate for the position on 10 August 2023, while Hon. Hagi expressed her interest in running for the position in September 2023. Despite both chambers endorsing Hon. Hagi and supporting her campaign, the revelation of the letter from the foreign ministry supporting Tanzania’s candidacy came as a surprise.
Refuting Abshirow’s claims
Critics have accused the 2nd Deputy Speaker of misrepresenting the events by blaming Hon. Hagi for the withdrawal. Abshirow said that Hagi had agreed to step down from the race after a phone conversation between him, Speaker Madoobe, and Ms Hagi.
However, Ms Hagi refuted this claim in an interview with Universal TV, stating that Hon. Abshirow never informed her of the government’s reasons for wanting her to withdraw. She emphasized that she had received overwhelming support from the Somali people and could not simply back out without providing them with a valid explanation.
The Speaker’s eleventh-hour attempt to withdraw Ms Hagi’s candidacy from the IPU presidential race has brought significant embarrassment to Somalia and damaged the country’s international reputation. It is unprecedented for a nation to openly lobby for another country while one of its own candidates is still in the running. This incident has raised concerns about Somalia’s domestic and foreign policies, with critics arguing that the nation lacks credibility on the global stage.
Not the first ‘letter faux pas’
This is not the first time a controversial last-minute letter sparked confusion, controversy and embarrassment for Somalia on the international stage. On 19 September, the Office of the President of Somalia sent a letter to the President of the United Nations Security Council, requesting a delay in the withdrawal of 3,000 African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) troops that were slated to leave by the end of September.
Such last-minute changes adversely influence long-term planning, governance, and regional stability. Erratic decision-making can alienate international partners and donors, which poses risks that extend beyond the immediate objectives and cast a shadow over Somalia’s future as a stable state.