Monday, July 23, 2018
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Muuse Biixi, Cabdiraxmaan Cirro and the ushering of a new era in Somaliland

By Ahmed Ibrahim

It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both Niccolò Machiavelli

Whence in a while, in a given society, we come across men of exceptional leadership and destiny. Leadership is about vision certainly but also about wisdom and integrity. Leaders know that values come in all shapes and walks. Sometimes, your own life, interests or obedience are just a mere distraction compared to the paramount interest of those looking up to you and for whom you have hold their destiny in your hands. Leaders are always missed and all the time but so cruelly so, long after they left this earth. For, their impact on us and on our lives lingers long after they are buried.

Cabdiraxmaan Ciro

Offered to be released from prison if he signed an agreement with the apartheid regime, Nelson Mandela choose otherwise and decided to remain in jail, risking dying there, until all the conditions posed by the ANC were accepted. Leadership is indeed what made Nelson Mandela stay in prison.

Cabdiraxmaan Ciro might have had a strong case to fight the results of these elections that were obviously and verifiably tempered with, but the truth is that by doing so, he would have had brought down the peaceful life of the people of Somaliland. Ciro therefore, sacrificed his pride and ambition for the people and for the peace.

During his tour of North America, his supporters organized a public speaking night in a Hotel in Ottawa. I had never met him before. I was expecting the usual loose talker politician. I was a bit wary too because as usual, those who were close to him and his vice-president by clan affiliation were very prominent. I said to myself, another pep talk is coming. But how far I was from the truth. A dignified middle aged Somali man walked into the room. He was not that tall and lean as most Somali men of that age are usually but stocky and elegantly dressed. He carried himself to the podium quiet diligently and began his speech after few introductions then it was the Q&A.

Unlike the usual partisan and Somali bashing speeches of the elite and politicians from the Somaliland region, Cabdiraxmaan Ciro held an inspiring speech where he articulated a vision of peace, reconciliation and optimistic future for the Horn of Africa. You could tell that the man was a career diplomat, a sort of statesman. The depth of the speech, the tone, the articulation as well as the chosen words showed that he did indeed put an effort to the preparation and that there are thoughts behind the words. This was a refreshing alternative to the usual vitriolic speeches of the Somali politicians. I did not know him, but I was sold; here, I said to myself, is the kind of leader Somali people need. Ciro concluded that night by saying hope and optimism are on our side. I was elated.

The elections are over now. We know the outcome and there is no coming back. The key is held by a military man whom, everybody remembers for his deeds and his words are all tied to “Anoo wax dili kara”. It is an empirical observation all across the world that guerrilla leaders and military junta men never make good civilian leaders with few exceptions like Jerry Rawlings of Ghana. They are used to give orders and their orders must be followed which is far from compromising diplomacy and middle ground need in order to lead a nation.

Did Muuse Biixi change over the years? Maybe, but really? We have seen him in action several times for the last years. As an example, a fabricated rivalry erupted in the Zeylac region during regional elections. Where cool heads and posed leadership, pastoral animosity and clan rivalry were exploited and when it came to solve the issue, Muse Biixi throw gas over the fire by invoking past animosities and openly siding; even sending delegations to Djibouti and Dire-Dawa to consult tribal leaders. Where calm heads and leadership were in need, he showed up as the guerrilla leader who is still fighting the SNM war against Syad Barreh’s regime and invoked the same clan alignments he use to deal with. It was a text book relapses; a kind of post traumatic syndrome. He jumped into the occasion and indicated that one of the clan in competition in Zeylac was carrying “the water” for him during war and the other one was shooting back.

President Muuse Biixi

When emotions got high and feelings were scorched, Muuse Biixi showed up in Borama one day as bravado. People were already boiling with heightened sensitivity by the events and resenting his provocation, they erupted into demonstration and stone throwing. His body guards retaliated immediately against the school children and left behind deaths and injuries.

Somaliland today is at crossroads. Axmed Maxamed Maxamuud (Silaanyo) is leaving behind a fractured and resentful society. Unlike his predecessors, he transformed Somaliland in a one clan regime. This caused the other clans to demand a rebalanced and a fair share “Saami-Qeybsi” which he dragged the feet for a long time, enough to kicked down to beyond the elections. Things were heading to nowhere when the election occurred and the baton will be passed to Biixi. The question is, how a military, no compromise man will deal with such fundamental issues that can lead to chaos and unrests? The obvious is worrisome.

In addition, the Somaliland society is maligned by woes that are by now woven into the fabric of system. There is a wide spread corruption, savage land and resources exploitation and an inflation fueled by the lack of monetary policies due in part by the lack of international recognition, a central bank with national sovereign monetary policies and the use of the US dollars as a base currency. This is literally eating inside out the economy and social well-being of the region.

On the other hand, the regime in Hargeisa is consumed by its survival and seem to be totally disconnected from the majority of the administered land. This also creates a problem in judiciary, education, health and overall state institutions that are completely absent from the everyday life and experience of the people except for few token samples in big cities like Hargeisa or Borama.

Another problem faced by Somaliland is community of oligarch. Nouveau riche and traditional wealthy families, bankrolling the political elite in Hargeisa and transforming the whole state apparels to a nepotism and clan commonwealth.

All of this and the nature the personality of Muuse Biixi makes the coming years, a time of tremendous opportunist laced with a frighteningly challenging realities and clan rivalry. Time will tell.

Ahmed Ibrahim

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