Political Uncertainty and the New the Prime Minister

By Siad Salah Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Clearly the end of transitional governance period unbolted with a collective sigh of relief and another cycle of assessment and reflection. Siad_Salah


But, did we really achieve what we hoped from this most stirring event since the collapse of the state twenty some years ago? Naturally, people would differ on interpretations, and when someone writes something, he or she does so in a context. This context includes the writer’s feelings, beliefs, past experiences, goals, needs, and physical environment.

Henceforth; sincerely speaking, I have no political ax to grind, or harbor resentment unto the establishment; I am simply longing for the government to get ahead and our nation to stand proper on its feet.

Since independence, we have struggled to understand ourselves. In spite of a century of colonial control that encouraged the fragmentation of our people along clan default lines, pre-independence generation set a path tended towards ultimate independence and national unity. On the whole, we strived and got energized by our new found self-awareness, and sought after a brighter future that unite us rather than divides. Yet, in many ways earlier forms of parochial consciousness have proved more enduring. In the end, this struggle has found form in abject tribalism, and a traumatic rearrangement of our political order occurred.

Today, the language in which the politics of our time discussed increasingly draws upon a store of tribal symbols and stereotypes.  The restructuring of relationships of power along a federalist idea, vaguely articulated, and the parameters of its operation is explicitly a campaign of pitting one clan group against the other. It is a spuriously concocted arrangement that inspires the destruction of sentiments of national unity and encourages the fragmentation of the country along clan defined fault lines of tribal coalitions.

Contrary to a popular belief tribalism is not what defines us as a nation.

Is our current climate of constant failures and intense brinkmanship an inevitable outcome of the civil war? And if so, how much is attributed to a leadership gone wrong? Sure, in our case, cheap-and-nasty tribal politics must shoulder some of the blame. Since that the civil war became predestined when the political elite stepped on abuse of power and grand theft of the treasury; it ought to be seen that the then political elite or factions could have prevented civil war had they succeeded in both forging strategic alliances with one another and embracing a-nation- first-stance. The failure to implement either goal offers a fresh interpretation of our conflict, which also emphasizes the need for bringing leadership back in our understanding the contentious politics phenomena hindering us to move forward.

On August, 2012, the newly selected parliament elected Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as the next president of Somalia.  Mohamoud’s nomination for the presidency was seen as a positive development and a hopeful sign. Largely because two important events transpired, one related to Somali domestic affairs, the other to international involvement. The first event rests on the fact that, for the first time in post state collapse a president is elected (by parliament) inside the country-Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital. The second event that greatly facilitated the domestic event was ending the transition governance, funded and supported by the international community.

Hassan Mohamoud, a relatively unknown and political novice in the Somali political landscape defeated embattled incumbent sheikh Sharif and supposedly more qualified candidates. Right away he was perceived as a candidate if elected for the presidency can be a harbinger of potential compromise and cooperation. With his relative acceptability to a significant majority of the parliament, Somalis everywhere took to their heart President Hassan can also build bridges and mend fences, and serve as an honest broker between competing groups.

Yet, a year into the presidency of Hassan Mohamoud, it is already clear that his administration is an opportunity missed. Not because it is too shadowy. Not because it is too bungling. But because it is too conventional! In his early speeches, Mohamoud promised to heal a broken nation and restore public confidence and trust in government by promoting value, transparency, public good, fairness and efficiency. So far, things did not turn out the way the public had imagined them. Thus; Somalia remaking itself is no longer a hint.

Instead, we are now witnessing the consequences of a rash decision the president made at the most opportune moment of his presidency-the moment he has finally beaten challenging opponents-For at that moment, Mohamoud favored to base the architecture of his new administration on personal loyalty and so-called (“Damul-Jadiid”) club membership -in total disregard of what needs to be done and who can do it. The president appointed his now dismissed Prime Minister on that frame of mind and bequeathed government services and attention to a team he considers as the only trusted hand he could work with. A team who could envision nothing more than disruptive political strategies –the kind of politics the president often ridiculed in his speeches.

It is obvious that the president misunderstood history, and the desire of the Somali people to reconcile, forgive one another and rebuild their state as fellow citizens, struggling for equality based on character and competence…, and not the affiliation of clan or narrow ideological motives.  This may sound cynical outburst; but the source of my cynicism, or that of the people, is not hard to find: We are sick and tired of the inauthentic band lining up for the loot- mere foxes that end up guarding the henhouse. Thanks to sister Yusur Abrar, who promptly resigned her post as the Governor of the Central bank, when confronted with OK’ing shady dealings benefiting the foxes but being potential harmful to the nation. Abrar, to her credit and the nation refused to romance with over the mind-boggling spate of corruption in the government.

It is no secret that at the center of our government lies a bankrupt institution—Parliament. Not politically bankrupt, but also ethically bankrupt. Faith in both the parliament-and the presidency is collapsing.

The very identity of the nation is at stake. Political uncertainty is abounding. Some difficult decisions need to be made on what kind of nation Somalia is to be, and the constitution-or lack of it-is at the heart of this storm. The suggestion that contemporary selfish politicians will further improve the constitution, keep our unity intact and lead us to participatory democracy grinds harshly against the grain of national unity and sovereignty. Nevertheless, before people start electing their representatives in the future and democracy drew her first breath, the people must demonstrate awareness on who is to be crowned at their expense and decides on their behalf. The thrust of the argument is that while people still can afford to make noises, at least, they get to demand which gang will loot the country for the next four years

The president finally came up with a replacement of his sacked Prime Minister, in the name of Abdiweli sheikh Ahmed Mohamed. Like his predecessor, Abdiweli Mohamed is a man with no known political experience, but, unlike his predecessor he has extensive experience in working for international organizations as finance and administration officer.

Still, the Prime Minister inherits a demeaned and discredited premiership. Due to the central role the President of Somalia assumed the in the political system, the activities of the executive branch (including the Prime Minister) are significantly influenced by the head of state (for example, it is the President who insists on appointing Ministers and other members of the Government; the President may chair the meetings of some selective cabinet members and give the impression that he is the head of the government; the President may also attempt to dismiss the Prime Minister).

Time will tell whether the Prime Minister sticks to his own independent premier whim; and gets a free hand appointments into sensitive chambers of our national political and bureaucratic establishment, or turns out to be a fraudulently minted Prime Minister.

Said Ahmed Salah USA, Virginia/Potomac Falls Said Ahmed Salah is a concerned writer of Somali affairs, and can be reached at: saidsalah12@gmail.com