Mogadishu (Qalin News) – A coordinated smear campaign rages online in the last 24 hours, targeting the former Somalia President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, who is an opposition candidate seen as the strongest contestant facing the incumbent president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo.
The smear campaign published in both Twitter, Facebook and Websites accused Sheikh Ahmed of getting financial support from the Kenyan government, which is in a severe diplomatic standoff with Somalia amid the maritime dispute court case in the International Court of Justice in the Hague.
A source close to Presidential aspirant Sheikh Sharif told Qalin News that Sheikh Sharif’s increased popularity since the last week of May 2021 became a signal of intimidation to his rivals including members of the Council of Presidential Candidates, which Sheikh Ahmed leads.
“Sheikh Sharif had played a great role in ending the political stalemate among the Somalia leaders during the Election discussions meeting in Mogadishu. Without him, the speaker of the upper house would not join the meeting and the impasse wouldn’t be solved” Said by an MP who is a key member of Sheikh Ahmed’s campaign.
“Somali people read the situations and give credit to anyone who deserves it, so everyone knew that Sheikh Sharif played a key role in solving the bottleneck situation of the election discussions, his popularity got a skyrocketing shift, which created fear to all other candidates including the incumbent and key members of the council of candidates” He added.
According to a small survey done by Qalin News Editors on the online smear campaign, both the camps of the incumbent president Farmajo and UPD party supporters are involved in the campaign against former President Sheikh Sharif.
A group allied to the incumbent President Mohamed Farmaajo launched a Twitter campaign that published pictures of the signature of the memorandum of understanding between Kenya and Somalia, which was signed in 2009 by the then-former minister of planning and international cooperation. The MOU was about the maritime dispute, which later forced Somalia to take the case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
A website related to senior UPD party supporters published quotes attributed to Sheikh Sharif saying “I received money from Kenya to support me to win the Somalia Presidency”. The article accused Sheikh Sharif of getting money from the enemies of Somalia who have an agenda to take parts of Somalia’s maritime territories.
Sharif Sharif’s camp called the claims “A cheap and blatant crack” and abstained to make an official response towards the accusations.
On the other hand, several social media influencers condemned the smear campaign on their social media platforms and supported Sheikh Sharif with their posts.
At the beginning of the highly anticipated Somalia elections, the campaigns may force the contestants to use media propaganda, each one aiming to tarnish the images of the opposing candidates that are seen as more popular or considered potential winners of the country’s top seat.