Members of Somalia’s House of the People (Lower House of the bicameral parliament) on Thursday elected Ms Saadia Yasin Haji Samatar as its first deputy speaker.
Ms Samatar becomes the first woman to be elected to the top leadership in parliament in a largely patriarchal Somali society.
In the last round of voting, Ms Samatar garnered 137 votes, beating Mr Mohamed Ali Omar alias Ananug who attained 107.
Soon after the election of Ms Samatar was announced, Villa Somalia, the State House in Mogadishu, issued a statement with President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo congratulating her for her achievement.
On Wednesday, Farmaajo also issued a statement congratulating Sheikh Aden Mohamed Nur alias Madobe, who was elected speaker of the 11th parliament of Somalia.
Similar congratulatory messages came from the office of Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble and many political figures.
Ms Batula Ahmed Gaballe, the chairperson of the influential Somali Women Association, welcomed the election of Ms Samatar.
“The election of Ms Samatar to co-lead the Somali parliament is the first step towards greater female participation in decision-making at national level,” she said.
Later on Thursday evening, the legislators voted for the position of the second deputy speaker.
Mr Abdullahi Omar Abshirow won the contest with 146 votes against the 91 obtained by outgoing second deputy speaker Mahad Abdalla Awad.
On Tuesday, the Upper House of the Parliament (Senate) elected its speaker and two deputy speakers while on Wednesday and Thursday, the Lower House elected its speaker and two deputy speakers.
In a joint statement, Somalia’s international supporters welcomed the election of Somalia’s parliamentary leadership.
The International Partners that signed the statement are the new African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, European Union (EU), Finland, France, Germany, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Ireland, Italy, Kenya, League of Arab States (LAS), Norway, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States and United Nations.
“(We) welcome the successful elections for leadership positions in the Upper House on 26 April 2022 and the House of the People on 27-28 April 2022,” they said. “We congratulate the newly elected Speakers and Deputy Speakers as they assume their important responsibilities at this critical moment for Somalia.”
“After the protracted delays and obstacles in choosing the members of parliament, the election of the parliamentary leadership is a major achievement,” the statement added, while also urging the leadership to hasten the process of the presidential election.
“We urge that election of the President now be completed promptly, peacefully, and credibly, so that Somalia’s elected leaders can address national priorities for the benefit of all its citizens.”
In Somalia’s indirect elections, once the Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament elect their speakers and deputy speaker, the two Houses are required to hold a joint session to vote for the president.
Following the completion of the speaker vote, attention now shifts to the presidential election, whose date is yet to be set.
This year, the contest is expected to be tough. Incumbent President Farmaajo is expected to be challenged by strong candidates from the Coalition of the (opposition) Presidential Candidates that include former presidents Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud, as well as ex-Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire, Puntland State President Said Abdullahi Deni and other former ministers.