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Somali presidential hopeful speaks of his dreams for troubled country

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Somali presidential candidate Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsame, a former minister, speaks to the Sunday Nation about his hopes for his country. PHOTO | WILLIAM OERI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Somalia’s former Planning Minister Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsame has announced he will vie for the country’s Presidency when new polls are called in early September.

But Somalia faces many problems from insecurity occasioned by extremists, resettling refugees returning from Kenya, corruption to a general lack of state facilities. So what does Mr Warsame offer to Somalia and the region at large?

He spoke to the Sunday Nation’s AGGREY MUTAMBO about his ambitions.

What is your opinion on the closing of Dadaab refugee camp?

The issue is implementing the agreement between Kenya, Somalia and the UN, which allowed refugees to voluntarily go back home.

Somalia has sued Kenya over a maritime boundary. How do you intend to solve rows with neighbours?

When I was in government, we agreed to solve the problem with Kenya amicably.But parliament rejected that and the government took the matter to international jurisdiction.
We have to go through the process and trust the court.

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Kenya and Somalia should be the best of neighbours and we have to figure out how to establish cooperation and work on building regional integration.

What will your relationship with the international community be like?

The global community needs to re-examine its relationship with Somalis.

Six countries have been involved in rebuilding the Somali army, police and other security agencies. That assistance is not coordinated.

I will ask the international community to coordinate its help.I will ask the partners to come back to Somalia and stop operating from Nairobi.

What is your strategy of fighting Al-Shabaab?

Al-Shabaab can be divided into three, meaning they should be tackled in three ways. Some join al-Shabaab because they are jobless.

Seventy per cent of Somalis are young. Al-Shabaab can attract them using money. This category needs us to create jobs.

But there are others with genuine political or religious grievances. We need to talk to them.
The third are hardcore Al-Shabaab who have links with international terrorists.

The only strategy for these is force. Some are not even Somalis and are not willing to talk.

Who is Abdirahman Warsame?

I was born in Hiran region where I went to primary and secondary school then undertook two years of military training.

I then went to the International University of Africa, Khartoum for my law degree. I went to Malaysia for my Masters degree with a particular focus on comparative federalism.

From Malaysia I went to the UK and I studied different policies of leadership and management at the London Institute of Management.

Why do you want to be president?

I have been in the opposition for a while and have also served as a minister.
I come with the experience of three different realities; opposition, government and international community.

How will you ensure that Somalia stands on its feet to protects itself?

One of the key things we must do as Somalis is to reduce dependence on others.
As it is, we rely on Amisom for our security. I challenge this notion of dependency.
What makes us rely on others is because we are divided.

What will be your exit strategy for AMISOM?
The problem has been that Amisom works hard to clear towns of terrorists but we don’t have a strong army. My strategy is to build the army.

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