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A Challenging Transition in Somalia: A Book Review

Reviewed by Ismail Warsame
Book: A Challenging Transition in Somalia
Author: Abdiweli Mohamed Ali
Publisher: The Red Sea Press, Inc. (February 20, 2017)

I have just finished reading the new book: A challenging transition in Somalia, a story of personal courage and conviction by Dr Abdiweli Mohamed Ali (Gas). It is an autobiography of the current President of Puntland State of Somalia. The 166-page book could be informative and enlightening to those who are interested in knowing what had transpired within the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia in the course of the Roadmap to get Somalia out of the Transition in the run-up to 2012 Election – the challenges in the Constitution – making; the in-fighting within; the obstructionist role of some members of the international community to keep the status quo and the leading national and patriotic role the author played in the process as the Prime Minister of Somalia.

The former Prime Minister Abdiwali, has indicated many instances where he had obnoxious working relations with former TFG President, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, and even casts suspicious attitude of the former president towards the incident surrounding the terrorist bomb blast at the National Theatre where there was an assassination attempt on the life of the former PM. Many people were injured in that bombing, some including Minister Mowlid Macaane and two Somali Olympic officials were killed. Al-Shabab had claimed that terrorist act. Sheikh Sharif was quoted in page 99 of the book, “I am not coming (to the National Theatre event of April 4, 2012) and you cannot postpone the event as scheduled”, in an stern instruction to the former Minister of Interior, Abdulkadir Mohamed Jahweyne, the organizer of the event. As claimed in the book, all president’s men also missed or boycotted the Theatre event unexpectedly. Abdiweli accuses the former presidential loyalists in the security departments and Banadir Region, including the Governor and Mayor Mungaab of botching the investigation into the incident.

Abdiweli on Sheikh Sharif in “Preparation for the Presidential Election”, page 109 of A challenging transition in Somalia, a story of personal courage and conviction: “I did not think Sheikh Sharif was the right person for the presidency …..The entire year I was in office, the President and I had merely a formal relationship….. He tried to single-handed create fifty-six additional districts within the span of three months …. merely to win votes. He had promoted thirty-four colonels-all at once-to the rank of generals……… Where were the troops for the Generals?”

Abdiweli claims both President Sharif and then House Speaker-Elect Mohamed Osman Jawari had practiced delaying tactics in completing and adopting the Constitution in their attempt to de-rail the Roadmap.

Of particular importance in the text are the quarrelsome relationships between the Transitional Federal Government (The Center) and Regional Administrations (The Peripheries) at the time, and important role the PM played to bring them together to agree upon completing the National Constitution and holding of election of the Parliament.

The author touches on his difficult relations with then President of Puntland, Abdirahman Farole, however he ignores the challenges and opportunities of his own election as President of Puntland in January 2014, and the prevailing now Puntland public option on his real and perceived poor leadership, run-away corruption and his Ivory –

Tower attitude towards governance and consensus – building. In “Selecting the Elders’ for the National constituent Assembly (NCA), page 106 of A challenging transition in Somalia, a story of personal courage and conviction, “This was when my problem with Farole began…… Puntland was allocated 17 Elders out of the total of 135. ……… Farole, however, sent more 25 candidates from Puntland to Mogadishu, the majority of who were not genuine elders.”

Although the author depicts his immigration obstacles and education performance in the USA, he downplays his personal health issues he had suffered that caused him to postpone his studies for several years in that country.

I thought Abdiweli’s take and characterization of the Somali Civil War was courageous and an accurate account. Quote Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, Civil War in Somalia, page 37 of A challenging transition in Somalia, a story of personal courage and conviction, 2017, “The SNM (Somali National Movement) wanted to dismember the country and had secessionist agenda. ……….. The USC (United Somali Congress) was interested not only in deposing Siyad Barre, but also in eliminating the whole Darod clan family, which it perceived as its mortal enemy.”

Of particular interest in the book is the erudite use of the English language. The book is a good read for those who want to catch-up with the latest political developments in Somalia and attempts to revive re-instate and re-institute the failed state.

Ismail Warsame
Twitter: @ismailwarsame

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