Friday, November 17, 2017
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The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Somali Politics

WardheerNews Editorial

Wishing to do away with unflattering past history comes with price

Unless you are not Somali and not at all interested in the Affairs of this tumultuous small nation of 12 million, you are aware the trending topic of the week is the election of Somali President. All kinds of men have come out of the woodwork, from their comfortable diaspora residents, overseas self-betterment courses, and some from their lavish lives in the capital city while others have dwindled in from neighboring countries. They have all come for one thing, to become the next president of Somalia.  Some have been on the lens of the Somali public for the last four years.

presidential candidates

Some like the last president of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud, wishes the public’s memory DNA of the recent past and the mishaps and continues corruption and quagmire of his administration will go poof and disappear into thin air and be forgotten like a bad episode of a poor run soap opera so he will be given a second chance.

Others with the darkest stain of history, some of a national security importance such as the integrity of the national waters and the case in front of the ICG wished to rewind the past history so they would shine their tainted image clean and get rid of the old dirty smudge.

Unfortunately they will forever be remembered for their past mistakes whether it was the MoU of the Somali waters, buying votes with stolen slush fund from the treasury or embezzled money from the embassy they were tasked to run or selling AID food for the poor to get rich quick and pay millions for parliamentarian seats. There is some irony here akin to what Somalis call indha Adeyg loosely translated to boorish tenacity of some of the candidates.

The candidates, mostly former politician who held an office in some capacity think they deserve yet another chance. To do what is completely unknown, but one thing is clear, the highest office in the land is seen as an easy way to amass wealth, gain influence and manipulate the country and its poor, undereducated people who have not been given enough tools to operate outside the clan system.

These, in a nutshell are the candidates running to bring the country from the brink. One would wish this was a joke of some kind given some of the candidates darkened recent past and the situation the country is in. So much so drought, rape, poverty and death of innocent victims they failed to safeguard from mayhem and rampages are part of the broken promise that never saw light. The public has witnessed bombings and unforgiving seas swallowing their loved youth whole, when all they wanted was a second chance at life because Somalia has become a country to escape.

Indeed a bitter pill was fed to the nation, hard to swallow as it maybe to see the very same people who failed the vulnerable, hungry and those losing lives and livestock at this very moment are standing in front of million of Somalis through blaring TV channels across the country asking to represent them as President, making promises once again.

One wishes a new day for Somalia. Judging from the many recent actions there are some positives, small and minute as they may be. When the negativity is rampant the human looks for the tiniest silver lining. And so for a country that seems to grow each year to hope for better, a county tired of the failures of its politicians on the very face of struggle the collective need for a tiny bit of hope is ripe. In recent weeks that has come from some actions of sitting parliament, which had in years past disappointed the masses by being part and parcel of the many failures of the country by giving to Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud whatever he wanted in multiple PM changes while he paid them handsomely from money looted from the public.

This time the sliver of hope seems to come from the maturity of the parliament, which recently rejected the embarrassing tactics of Hassan Sheikh to manipulate them to elect his hand picked men Abdirashid Hidig (Xidig) and Farah Abdulqadir as speaker of the house and deputy speaker respectively . This one was a blow for the former president and a victory for the people of Somalia. Definite high points for the parliament which is mostly attributed to some new blood, young, mostly educated and one would argue maybe (a big maybe here because corruption in Somali politics is so rampant even younger politicians are suspect) the old guard with their bloated hungry belly are still around but the new kids on the block are fresh eyed and promise changes.

To delve into the many processes, people, committees and venues (which in itself is dizzying) tasked to bring this one home corruption free, one needs a nice cup of tea and some free time to dig into the many layers, tactics, players, mishaps, victories and of course coalition courses of this contentious election. It has been busy few weeks that will lead up to a president being elected on February 8, 2017 and the slippery slope continues.

There are some winners, some losers and overall interesting process in place.

Winners

Abdi Hashi, a man with integrity and a nationalist, a rarity character in today’s most Somali politicians was elected to chair the newly formed Upper House.

For the candidates, there are few who show integrity in their fabric, although this is a few and far in between phenomenon that is all but forgotten by Somali politics of today.

Rule of law-  ICG for allowing the case between Somalia and Kenya to go forward.

The Integrity committee of the presidential election with notable people at the helm – would add a needed weight for the transparency of the election process.

The shear will of the people of Somalia to survive yet another election with their mighty patience and believe in the improvements of their society.

Losers

Fartaag for corrupting the election committee with his outspoken support of Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud while being the second chair of the committee.

Abdirhaman Baileh, a former minister, an ally of Hassan Sheikh and the chairman of the election committee, dismal failure to conduct the first ever presidential debate for the candidates blaming internet failure. A second haphazardly prepared debate followed days later and most of the candidates were MIA.

Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud for organizing a lavish dinners amid a horrific drought and a looming famine in the country.

Ethiopia’s Centre for Dialogue, Research and Cooperation (CDRC) architect to manipulate the election through corruption and intimidation of the Somali parliamentarian.

PM Omar Abdirashid for being a mute PM with no power to do the people’s work and only allowing words to pass his mouth for the purpose of election.

PM Omar Abdirashid, Abdirahman Abdishakur for signing the MOU with Kenya

And Sheikh Sharif for being part of the  memorandum of understanding (MOU) to confer oil drilling rights in Somali waters to Kenya.

The candidates and their Speeches in front of joined houses of parliament

What a good debate between candidates couldn’t give the Somali public was given to us in the form of speeches given by the candidates. It was interesting to see the candidates in bare flesh attempting to convince both houses of parliament, or more fittingly the present members of parliament since according to one candidate most of the chairs were empty. Some of the speeches were passionate, some nervous, others were predictable and some were unclear and confusing. The most notable of the speeches are as follows:

Mohamed Nur (Tarsan) the infamous former mayor of Mogadishu, was passionate, daring and savvy. He spoke with conviction and one could see his desire to see a greater Somalia in place. He was also entertaining and of course eloquent.

Ali Warsame showed honesty through his speech. He was convincing and if others left you with the bitter taste of corruption and self-gain, Warsame spoke with integrity and good character, something one hasn’t seen in Somali politicians for decades. He detailed the position he is running for as a candidate. He was adamant in saying he is running for president of Somalia not Prime Minister speaking volume of the last two presidents (Sheikh Sharif and Hassan Sheikh Mahamoud) for recycling through PMs wasting public funds and important time that the country needed to come out of war. Of course all this changing of PMs was also with the blessing of the previous parliament headed by the current Speaker Jawari. For clarity alone, Ali shows a deep understanding of governing and the requirements of the position of president of Somalia.

Abdirahman Abdishakur can carry a good speech but he spent a lot of time trying to burry his baggage and the MoU he signed to Kenya. Overall he was not convincing but appeared knowledgeable of the topic of governance. He spent much time on the heavy interference role of the international Community and the question of sovereignty of the nation.

Former PM Omar Abdirashdd mumbled through confusing statements of promises. Omar talked about the current drought as if he is just being informed of its devastation. His speech was ineligible and unconvincing. If the speech and articulating his agenda in front of the parliamentarians would be the lone decider of the election, Omar would lose in great numbers.

Mahamed Abdullahi Farmaajo enjoys great popularity with the people and the poor masses. It’s both a blessing and a curse to be the man of the people. It’s far from one man one vote and so the people are not electing him but parliamentarians are. It’s been reported that Mr. Farmaajo is carried away with the admiration of the pubic on the streets, and appears to be missing the same charm for the parliamentarians. He is also rumored to not be a coalition builder. His speech lacked enthusiasm. Since he held office before, he also has questionable past in that he agreed to leave his position when pressured by Uganda in what is known as the Uganda accord. That was a weakness he displayed at the time and one his opponents use against him. Over all he is one of the front runners of the election and the run off appears to favor him and Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.

Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud is always the same. He is a man who knows his sagging popularity in the eyes of the public. His speech was like many he has given in the past, full of promises that will not see the light of day. It must be hard to stand in front of people again and again and speak of things that will never be delivered. None of the six pillars of his election platform in 2012 were delivered. The recent report from the Ethiopian think Tank, CDRC that unearthed his embarrassing closeness to Ethiopia added an extra weight to his sagging popularity among Somalis.

Sheikh Sharif and Sharif Hassan

People mostly remember Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed through his last position as sitting president from 2009-2012 when he was outrun and manipulated severely by one Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan who was the speaker of parliament with so much power. Sharif Hassan is known in Somali political circles as the unlearned slick politician, uncouth, unwavering and corrupt. Under the watch of Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed the fiasco of the case of the Somali Sea and MoU in front of the ICG has taken place. Sheikh Sharif was also meddled by Ahmedou Oulad Abdullah, the former UN envoy at the time, who was an ally of Sharif  Hassan and caused much disturbance and rift in Somali politics. Giving the many conflicts he has had with his PMs Omar Abdirashid and Farmaajo at the time, Sharif Sheikh Ahmed is similar to Hassan Sheikh with the dispute he had with two PMs.

It’s concerning to know Sheikh Sharif  outsourced his administration and responsibilities to the controversial Oulad Abdallah and Sharif Hassan. Judging from history he also seems conflict prone. However, Sharif Ahmed is said to be a coalition builder, has gained experience and learned from past mistakes and a second chance may make him a better leader this time around. He promises to build the national security armed forces. Judging from how people speak about him, he is well liked by diverse groups of people and he seems to be a consensus builder and can easily maneuver through clan lines which is not easy for many leaders stuck in the war minded era.

Sheikh Sharif has had an opportunity to get involved at the grass roots level for the past four years, but he opted to leave the country to work on himself. Leaving the country to Hassan Sheikh has proved disastrous for the past four years and Sheikh Sharif had many opportunities to work with the people and be a force of positive change. unfortunately that was a missed opportunity.

If he wins he needs to surround himself with honest knowledgeable people who can help in developing the country and the people. One positive mention of his speech is the promise to commit to peace building among clans. This is a much-needed peace building initiative that the country needs to move forward and one the last administration failed to do. His calm temperament may allow him an edge to do that.

In conclusion in less than twenty four hours Somalia will elect a new president. This small nation famous for gluttony and greed, poverty and famine, is in bad need of governance for once.

To predict is to never know who the winner is, for what its worth, it seems Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo are the front runners. There is also talk of a coalition building between candidates to thin out and do away with any chances of Hassan Sheikh Mahamoud returning. Indeed it seems Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud is the uniter of former foes.

There is much work ahead of the new president whoever he maybe. No one knows if he will be a amender of wounds, a builder of institutions, an educator of students and a visionary. Although that remains to be seen, Somalia is in need of much needed rescue and put together.

WardheerNews
Email: admin@wardheernews.com

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