Sunday, May 27, 2018
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Making Somalia great again: Big expectations from a new President

Ali H. Abdulla

“This victory belongs to the Somali people. This is the beginning of the era of unity, the democracy of Somalia and the beginning of the fight against corruption.” Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo

Former President Hassan (left) with new President Farmajo

Somalis have welcomed the unexpected change in their country. They expressed their joy and appreciation all over the world. Thousands of young and old alike poured into the streets of Somali cities and villages to celebrate the new dawn. Soldiers in Mogadishu emptied the magazines of their automatic weapons in the air in a noisy crescendo signaling their approval and hope. After all, the man who did his best to secure their salaries while in office for a short period of time is now at the helm, raising their hope for better treatment in the future.

Even the International media calls the change a new dawn for Somalia. wrote “A New President and a New Dawn Chance for Somalia”. The Guardian wrote “Somalis greet ‘new dawn’ as US dual national wins presidency”.  The US government rushed to congratulate the new president and wished him well in the monumental task ahead of him. Let us hope that the verbal good wishes translate into full-fledged support given Trump’s isolationist tendencies.

When Hassan Sheikh came to power and replaced Sheikh Sharif, we all voiced our joy spontaneously without even pausing to find out more about the man and his agenda for Somalia.  Although he graciously accepted defeat and congratulated the new president with that big smile of his, a smile that many feared and abhorred when he was in power to the extent that many called him the man with the devilish smile, he leaves behind a resurgent and more brutal al-Shabab, a demoralized army, and a divided country. But we should not forget his several accomplishments such as fighting for our territorial waters and hiring qualified people to defend it against Kenya’s ambitions. So, adios Mr. President and please do consider returning any ill-gotten wealth to the national treasury if there is any as many Somalis believe.  If not, thank you for not behaving like the outgoing president of Gambia who refused to go graciously and accept defeat at the polls, a phenomenon that seems to be luckily disappearing from Africa. Your move has reminded Somalis of the good old days when President Adan Adde relinquished power peacefully to his successor Sharmarke.

Coming back to the new president, Somalis say “Far keliya Fool ma dhaqdo”, A lone finger cannot wash a face. The new president needs all the help he can get from a strong and qualified team to extricate Somalia from the lows it has languished in for many decades. Borrowing the Donald’s overused cliché: Let us make Somalia Great Again.  Somalia was great and can be great again with the help of its own people and without the need for foreign intervention.

The new president inherits a broken country that needs mending very fast. Any delay in the implementation of his campaign promises can disappoint the millions of Somalis who put their faith in him for a meaningful change. In the first 100 days of his term, he needs to prove that he is a man of his words and a man of action.

Former foreign Minster Omar (left) and Gabre

The first executive order that Somalis would like the president to sign is one that renders General Gabre persona-non-grata and kicks him out of our country. The continued and unchecked presence of the Tigrean general poses a great danger to our sovereignty and security. Most of the MPs who voted for the new president consider Gabre a threat and getting rid of him was their battle cry. The new president should not disappoint their desire and the desire of all Somalis to evict him from Somalia for good.

The second executive order that many Somalis would like him to sign is one that names a capable Prime Minister who can implement the president’s campaign slogan “Danta Dalka iyo Dadka”: For Country and the People. Naming a Prime Minister from the North may serve to heal the wounds that some Northerners suffered from under the military regime and restore their faith in the Somali Republic.  Although some of us may object to a Northern PM, since it violates the wretched duopoly formula Somalia has suffered from as professor Samatar puts it, the nationalistic spirit that got the new president elected against a well-financed and foreign backed incumbent should make us receptive to the idea of supporting a PM from Northwestern Somalia in the interest of reuniting the country and making it great again.

The third executive order that most Somalis would like him to sign is one that names a commission for readying the country for free and fair elections in 2020 without relying on the infamous clan formulas that have dogged us for a long time and contributed to our divisions. A successful electronic voter registration system requires time and money and calls for an early start.

The fourth executive order that most Somalis would like him to sign is one that names a commission of qualified individuals to oversee the rebuilding and reequipping the Somali army to defend the country against its internal and external enemies.

The fifth executive order that most Somalis would like him to sign is one that names a commission of religious scholars that can open constructive dialogue with the Al-shabab movement to convince its leadership to abandon their destructive campaign that only serves to weaken Somalia.  The refusal of the Al-shabab leadership to negotiate with the government should pave the way for an all-out war that frees the country from their distorted view of Islam which is a religion of peace. This may call for the mobilization of the civilian population to volunteer for military service to defeat the Al-shabab.

These suggested executive orders are the tip of the iceberg.

The large Somali Diaspora scattered all over the world can support the new president by paying taxes that can cover the salaries of the Somali Army.  A nation that depends on others for the payroll of its defense forces, is not an independent nation and can be dictated to by its benefactors.

Finally, I would like to wish the new president good luck. Let us all pray to the Lord Almighty to grant him strength, wisdom and energy to tackle the myriad of problems that he will surely face in the coming days.

Ali H. Abdulla

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