Thursday, August 13, 2015
The buzz in public offices, Café’s, restaurants and hotel lobbies all across Mogadishu was intense for the last few days. It started with discussions of a potential Cabinet reshuffle but quickly progressed to whether or not the President of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, can survive the latest Motion of No Confidence lodged at the Parliamentary Speakers Office against him by national lawmakers.
In a surprise turn of events, over 90 Somali Parliamentarians lodged a Vote of No Confidence against the nations President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud yesterday. In a carefully constructed statement, the lawmakers accused the President and “his cronies” of violating the constitution and individual human rights of citizens as well as corruption and worsening the security situation among other things.
The Motion to impeach the President has been lodged with the office of the parliamentary speaker and requires a Supreme Court ruling on its legality before it can be discussed in Parliament.
While the news only became public yesterday, the rumours were circulating days beforehand. The Statement released by the Parliamentarians states clearly that lawmakers were debating this action for 6 months among themselves and with other relevant stakeholders before making it public.
Despite surviving Motions of No confidence in the past, members of the President’s office quietly admit that this action against the President came as a surprise and is very different from those of the past.
“MP’s are always moaning and are seen as corrupt as any other institution by the Somali people but this time the motivation driving them are more diverse,” said a senior civil servant who did not want to be identified. “The statement makes clear that lawmakers had consulted and prepared for this confrontation with the President but we can’t say what outcome they want.”
In a crowded restaurant in Mogadishu city centre most people are enjoying their breakfast with a side discussion on the motion. Most agree that rebuilding a country like Somalia which was totally destroyed by civil war is not easy but they also believe that the President has not shown the leadership needed to change Somalia for good.
“Somalia is getting better slowly but it is not the government which is making this happen but the people and community leaders,” said Mohamed Warsame, a business man.
“The statement by MP’s has many claims and I think all of them are true. There is too much corruption, security is a little better but not by much and the President likes to interfere in everything,” added another man who did not want to be named. “It is so funny really that the President who wanted to reshuffle the cabinet is now fighting for his own seat.”
A few other men around the table stated that the President had made many serious mistakes such as creating political instability by replacing two Prime Ministers. However, they claimed that he had the right to complete the remainder of his term.
“The President only has 8 months. Let him finish it and let us see what he can do,” said Yusuf Maalim, a retired teacher working as an education adviser for an international NGO. “Somali MP’s always want change but thy never know who they will replace the President with.”
“If the President has done wrong he must be held accountable by Parliament but the MP’s must bring evidence to back up their claims and not just emotional outbursts over the radio,” said a civil servant employed at the Ministry of Justice.
While there was no consensus on whether the President should be impeached or not, most people agreed that the Motion lodged with Parliament by over 90 lawmakers will further damage the government of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
“This simple action comes at the worst possible time for the President. He has to achieve Vision 2016 goals in the little time left and many of his lawmakers are making it clear that they disagree with his policies and strategies,” said a civil society leader who did not want to be named. “Disagreement is fine and democratic but accusations of corruption and nepotism are more damaging especially as we need inclusive politics to move on from the trauma of war and failed governance.”
Many defending the President against the motion stressed continuously that the MP’s had done this before and are only “selfishly seeking to enrich themselves with payments they extort from the President to stop the motion.” Others argued that almost all those lawmakers supporting the Motion want a position as Ministers.
“Somali MP’s are greedy, unprofessional and use Motions as a weapon of convenience,” said Mohamed Adaan a political Science student in Mogadishu. “Many bringing this Motion were former Ministers who by bringing this Motion are bringing doubt on their own contributions to the country as former Ministers.”
While those on both sides of the debate argue over the finer details of the matter and the desired outcome, all agreed that this Motion of No confidence is far more different than those of the past.
“This Motion is organised, carefully managed and well timed. This leads me to believe that it is opportunistic on the part of lawmakers and opposition Parties who are just starting their campaigns for the 2016 elections,” said a Somali policy analyst at an international NGO who did not want to be named. “There is no better time to derail the President’s policy ambitions and force individual agendas on to his list of priorities than now when he appears most vulnerable.”
“There is no doubt that the MP’s are organised and getting support from outside sources,” said Mohamed Ali Farah, a businessman from the Diaspora who has lived in Somalia since 2011. “I think the newly formed political Parties are playing a big role in this in a secretive way and this petty politicking will set the country back.”
It will take time to negotiate and resolve the matter of the Motion of No Confidence against President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. However, whatever the outcome, it is difficult to measure the damage this latest incident will inflict on the President’s current policy goals and his election campaign for 2016.
HOL will keep readers informed of all the updates on this story.