The country is in the final stages of selecting a two-tier parliament, Ali, who is a candidate to become president, said in an interview in Mogadishu, the capital, on Aug. 16. Lawmakers are scheduled to vote in a new president today, though the process may be delayed because the vetting of parliamentarians has taken longer than expected, he said.
The elections are Somalia’s latest attempt to establish a functional central administration that collapsed when the former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991. The country has been mired in clan-based conflict and an insurgency led by al- Qaeda-linked militants ever since.
The lack of security has allowed piracy and hostage-taking to flourish, fueled by criminals seeking ransoms. Attacks by pirates in 2011 cost the shipping industry and governments $6.9 billion, according to the Colorado-based One Earth Future Foundation.
“There’s a great deal of unemployment here, that’s why the youth are taking their luck to the high seas,” Ali said. “We need a paradigm shift, a new way of thinking, and a sound, tangible plan for competing in the global market place in the near future.”
Somalia has a $5.9 billion economy, according to the U.S. State Department. That compares with neighboring Kenya’s $32 billion economy, the region’s largest. Investors in Somalia include Africa Oil Corp.
(AOI), based in Vancouver, and partners Red Emperor Resources NL (RMP) and Range Resources Ltd. (RRS) of Australia, which said in March they will invest $50 million drilling two wells in Puntland, a semi-autonomous northern region of the country.
Others vying for the presidency include the incumbent, President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, and parliament Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden. The winner faces challenges including tackling corruption, restoring security and reviving a moribund economy.