BY T. Roble
Villa Somalia dished out over half a million dollars to secure the election of its preferred candidate in the South West polls last December even as the country appealed for donor support to alleviate the suffering of millions facing starvation.
The UN Panel of Experts (PoE) in a scathing report released this week said the elections in South West were marred by violence and vote-buying with state parliamentarians getting between $5000 and $8000 to vote for specific candidates.
“The Panel received multiple reports indicating that 82 South-West State Members of Parliament were flown to Mogadishu in early November 2018 to receive an initial payment of approximately $5,000 each, in exchange for their support for particular presidential candidates,” the report said.
It added the MPs were further given between $2000 and $3000 after the vote which saw former minister Abdiaziz Mohamed Laftagareen elected president of South West State on December 18.
Significant payments, the report says were made to senior South-West State officials in the weeks preceding the election. The report adds payments totalling hundreds of thousands of dollars were made by three individuals based in Mogadishu, one of whom the Panel identified as a financial clerk in a senior Federal Government office
The report further notes contrary to a report by South West administration that only 4 people were killed in the skirmishes ahead of the poll, the ‘the Panel verified the names of 15 civilian victims.’
MILLIONS PLUNGE INTO HUNGER
As money was changing hands faster than it could be earned between Mogadishu and Baidoa, millions of Somalis were battling starvation as UN agencies warned resources were thinning out to support the increasing number of those running short of food.
In its December 2018 bulletin, the UN humanitarian agency OCHA warned 200,000 people had crossed to stage four (IPC Phase 4) emergency meaning they were acutely in short of food and risked death. Another 1.2 children were projected to be malnourished OCHA said amid the irony of dollars flooding the political market.
A similar scenario played in Puntland where candidates handed out bribes of between $30,000 and $70,000 to secure votes from members of the state assembly, the report says. “In one case, the Panel received evidence that a prospective Member of Parliament was offered $15,000 to turn down the appointment in favour of another individual who supported a specific presidential candidate,” the PoE report notes.