By Ahmed Mohamed Raage
Somalia has been slowly struggling for several decades as a result of protracted internal conflicts combined together with eternal foreign interventions. It has been certainly difficult to govern the country at least since 2000 partly because of political elites comprising former cabinet members, parliamentarians and regional leaders competing for their personal interest. Fortunately, for the first time in recent history, there is a political will from the President and the PM to change the direction of the country, but the opportunity to advance government policies is being deeply defied. There are permanent obstacles on any meaningful policy issues the government tries to execute.
For example Chapter 5, (art. 54) of the Somali constitution states that the allocation of powers and resources shall be negotiated and agreed upon by the Federal Government and the Federal Member States except in matters concerning: (1) Foreign Affairs` (2) National Defense` (3) Citizenship and Immigration` (4) Monetary Policy, which shall be within the powers and responsibilities of the federal government.
As outlined in the constitution, Foreign Policy clearly falls under the authority of the Federal Government; regional leaders such as Puntland and Southwest President have no constitutional mandate in the matter, but they openly opposed the position taken by the Federal Government regarding the Gulf conflict which was to remain neutral and not take sides. Such political interventions are utterly irresponsible, divisive, diminishes the federal authority and allows a free mingling of foreign countries in the country’s internal affairs.
Also members of the parliament are constantly engaged in destabilizing the executive branch of the government, primarily because the majority of the parliamentarians who have spent a lot of money to get elected are seeking ways to get their money back. And they see the best possibility is to overthrow the current government, so they may have chances to join the new one. This is, however, a vicious cycle, because those who fail to be part of the new cabinet are prepared to overthrow the government over again. This quagmire political game has obstructed the execution of governmental policies, the delivery of services to the public and made it difficult to defeat Al-shabab.
When the cabinet of Prime Minister Khayre was formed in March of 2017, some politicians were already giving it a life-span of six months citing a great number of unqualified ministers in the cabinet.
President Farmajo ran for an election because he sincerely believes he can change the political, economical and social spectrum of the country. The first thing he did as a President was to give full authority to his PM to run the government, an attempt to enhance democracy and good governance. The President’s platform is to focus first on Somalia’s interest and Somalia’s National Security. His enthusiasm and stamina seems boundless.
Although the government of Prime Minister Kheyre has performed well in the past six months, the pressure to overthrow it is mounting. Presently, the opposition while diverse in interest, have united to use any means that will weaken the government and the President’s authority.
Likewise, militia groups taking advantage of the state of the affairs started spreading rumors and mobilizing their supporters in and outside the country. The aim was to twist the government’s agenda of fighting al Alshabab and define it as a deception. They used the incident in Barire (Afgoye) to promote their strategy which was nothing, but to pressure the government to abandon its military campaign in Lower Shabelle. The militias involved in the fight in Barire have long developed a symbiotic life with Alshabab as they serve each other’s interest. They see the war against Alshabab as a war against their interest. This must be understood as peace building challenges. Unfortunately, policies and strategies of achieving security and enhancing development in Lower Shabelle have been extremely slow process and mostly elusive due to lack of political will and prolonged conflicts.
On the issue of extraditing Qalbi Dhagax to Ethiopia, the government has made a big mistake and provided the necessary firearms to the opposition to smear the President and question his leadership. Although the opposition has attempted to characterize the President as a failed leader who is serving the interest of Ethiopia, there are many in the public and politicians who stood up with the President and defended his integrity. The public is convinced President Farmajo of being a true Somali who will always prioritize the interest of his country. In politics mistakes usually happen, but the magnitude of its political damage will depend on how the government handles it. Unfortunately, government officials involved in the case of Qalbi Dhagax have acted recklessly consequently putting the President in a very difficult position.
Nevertheless, there is a lot to learn from the recent crisis, particularly for the President. Every leader in this world will be tested during his/her term in office; even our Prophet Mohamed peace be upon him was tested during his life-time. The President must grab this opportunity to turn things right. He truly needs to place his qualified close loyalist to the most important positions if he needs to leave a great legacy. The expectation is to transform the vision and mission of Somalia to regain civility and pride as a nation. The president’s endeavor for good governance, which was partly empowering his PM to freely run the government has still received its fair share of criticism since it is a new style of leadership not seen before. There is definitely a need for a new strategy to expose the President’s authority.
The opposition will continue its irresponsible, nonstop campaign, but it is the government and the President to challenge them. The government must work closely with the public and begin implementing President Farmajo’s political agenda of ensuring peace, building the national army, strengthening law and order, reforming the justice system, reviewing the constitution, providing government services and enhancing economic development. Somalia needs to exploit its abundant natural resources to mobilize enough revenue to finance its depilated infrastructure.
The President must understand that the fight against his presidency is far from over. There are those in the opposition who are actively planning to overthrow him by any means possible. It must also be clear to Mr. Farmajo that many of the officials in his administration will jump ship as soon as they see other opportunities.
The opposition is united to squander the glimmer of hope and the momentum that this administration has built if remained unchallenged.
Ahmed Mohamed Raage
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