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Former Foreign Minister drops out presidential race

Monday May 9, 2022

Mogadishu (HOL) - Somalia's former foreign minister, Mohamed Abdirizak, announced on Monday that he is dropping out of the hotly contested race for Somali President.

In a statement posted to his campaign website, Abdirizak conceded that his "campaign does not have the means to move forward successfully" and thus decided to drop his campaign preemptively.

Abdirziak said that part of his motivation for quitting the race was the spectre of accepting campaign donations that go against Somalia's best interests.

"Accepting campaign funds that go against the long-term interest of the Somali people would betray all that I hold dear but, even more importantly, the mothers, fathers, and inspiring youth whose interest I have expressed throughout my campaign."

In an interview with Hiiraan Online, Abdirizak said that the current indirect model of elections in Somalia is centred on personalities and their war chests. 

He added that the inclusionary nature of the indirect model favour a politically connected, well-moneyed candidate.

"If you look closely at the candidates running in this year's elections, there is minimal campaigning done on the core issues that Somalia is facing. "

Abdirizak was one of the first candidates to declare his candidacy for president publicly.

Abdirizak said that his campaign was focused on speaking directly to the Somali people but that Somalia's indirect model of presidential elections ran antithetical to his campaign ideals.

"I knew that we would have to be unafraid in how we ran the campaign; we had to run with nothing to lose and ensure we spoke to the Somali public on the key policies that could help change the trajectory of the country and help inspire other candidates to see the election beyond appealing to the interest of MPs and more to the constituents the MPs represented. "

He also stressed the significance of this election, saying that it was "more than a referendum on an individual or an administration." Abdirizak believes that Somalia's democratic future and the war against Al-Shabaab hang in the balance next week as lawmakers ponder who will lead Somalia for the next four years.
"This election is about whether there will be one person one vote in the next election cycle or not, and whether our democracy and governance arrangements, the unity, and territorial integrity of our country will be perfected, or it will be pushed to some future government. This election is about whether Violent Extremism will be defeated effectively or not and whether our country's economy will be opened up credibly and transparently so that the public can trust their government."

Despite the setback, Abdirizak said that he remains an optimist that Somalia will be able to achieve universal suffrage soon.

"I know that we can reject and overcome these fears and choose to be defined by our ambitions and our ability to achieve them, but this will only be realized when the Somali nation is freed from the shackles of the political elite and enable the public to vote for their leaders."

Abdirizak said he fought for universal suffrage in Somalia for over a decade in varying capacities, including working to change things from the inside as an advisor to President Faramjo. 

He said that Somalia would realize its full potential when it transitions from its current clan identity to a political identity.

Mohamed Abdirizak was a candidate in the 2017 presidential elections and told HOL that he would continue to run for Somalia's top job because he believes the people of Somalia deserve good governance. Abdirizak last served as Somalia's foreign minister from November 2020 to November 2021


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