It has been over four years now since I wrote that first letter to the people of Puntland. I would like to plea to the Somali parliament in the same way as I did then. The dream of a Somali nation is concentrated today in your hands. In few hours you will choose the next president. This is a rallying point for Somalia, a moment that has the potential to shape our future to one that is more equitable and is based on principles of uniting the people on key potentially ethical issues around coexistence, respect for oneself and others, diversity of views and belonging, the rule of law, valuing hard work and commitment to social, economic and scientific progress, and above all devotion to the global propositions to alleviate poverty and environmental regeneration.
Most of the presidential candidates have shown high level of skills which would make the job of the parliamentarians difficult. Even more challenging is that social pressure to conform to clan needs above that of the country, as well as the fear of intimidation by the armed factions. But it is important to remember that the parliamentarians are not here to please individuals or groups, they are here to discharge their duties towards their country. It is needless to say that Somalia has suffered a lot; the suffering of the land is mirrored on us, the people. Your work today would inspire action around the range of problems that we face as a nation. We do not anticipate that you resolve all Somalia’s problems, but you are expected to make a difference albeit a step at a time. This step you are about to embark on would lay a strong foundation by which we can launch a different future for Somalia. It would enable us to break the chains of fear and allow a more independent and capable citizens to emerge.
I listened to all the presidential speeches and watched in horror some of the candidates suggesting that they apparently have no understanding what so ever of the causes of the Somali problems, and that they yet to investigate this matter. This tasteless statement, I hope, disqualifies these characters since they are disingenuous. If someone, claims to not have a slightest idea of what the problem has been all these years, it is unlikely that they would want to find out in the future.
Despite these absurdities, most of the candidates have respected the audiences’ intelligence and shown high levels of intellect and dedication. However, there are four essential criteria that make the basis of any choice: commitment to the constitution and the rule of law, commitment to the peace and institutional building, an understanding of the multidimensional causes of Somalia’s troubles, and having a clear vision as to how they are planning to bring people together in the aftermath of conflict and famine.
These are essential not because of their symbolic meanings within the road map, but because of their tested and well thought out nature. First we know that they can yield demonstrable results most evidently the fact that Somalia has a parliament that can hear and debate the future of the country. Moreover, for Somalis of outstanding records to leave their comfort zone and dream of leading their country is another tangible outcome. This process of peace building has been a very costly one, it was paid for not only by Somalis in terms of both financial and human sacrifices, but the world has also poured in assistance in the form of funds and expertise in a starch attempt to show their believe in the Somali spirit and its ability to transform its destiny. The world believes in us and we, the Somalis, believe in your ability to make sound judgements.
There is no doubt that Somalia so far has made a shift in its future outlook, we are entering a new phase of negotiations based on mutual respect, both essential for building foundations for democratic reform. It is important, however, that all parliamentarians buy their own peace of mind by disassociating themselves with all forms of corruption and to reject it from the outset. This would ensure their safety in the future.
The road map has been criticised by many, but today we know that they were wrong. In spite of the scepticisms, it opened a new path for Somalia and I hope that we remain focused on this path, the road to success and prosperity for all.
Warsan Cismaan Saalax
* September 10th is a D-day Decision
for Somali Parliament By Mohamed H. Bahal
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