Somalia’s Historic Elections Bring Hope—and Despair—for Elusive Democracy

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed holds a national flag during a handover ceremony at the presidential palace in Mogadishu, Somalia, Feb. 16, 2017 (AP photo by Farah Abdi Warsameh).
Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed holds a national flag during a handover ceremony at the presidential palace in Mogadishu, Somalia, Feb. 16, 2017 (AP photo by Farah Abdi Warsameh).
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Somalia, once seen only as a war-ravaged failed state, is preparing to achieve a momentous accomplishment. Later this year or early next, for the first time in more than half a century, the fragile nation in the Horn of Africa will hold something very close to a democratic election. Somali officials, backed by Western diplomats and the United Nations, hope that millions of citizens will participate in the electoral process, even as the country’s weak central government and embryonic state apparatus, constantly tested by terrorist attacks and political dysfunction, continues a slow and disjointed recovery from a brutal military dictatorship […]

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