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The Usual Suspects

By Heikal I. Kenneded
Thursday, December 13, 2007

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The new Somali Prime Minister Nuur Xassan Xuseen (Cadde), is passing a major milestone: putting together a respectable government body that everyone can place their hopes and believes. As he takes his first diplomatic trip abroad, he faces a staunch opposition back home, resulting from several of his new ministerial cabinets who feel “ignored.” After his predecessor PM Gedi reluctantly resigned from his post, the parliamennt passed and amendment in the constitution that allows cabinet members (including the prime minister himself) to be elected from outside of the parliament. This was a new dawn of hope that the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) would finally get its acts together: whether to face up to their responsibilities to grasp the challenges posed by the under circumstances or, like its predecessors go down in history as the lousy administration who didn’t have the courage to stand up when their calling came. The Prime Minister displays all the signs of an honest technocrat who has the essential qualities to promote a good leadership, but he will need few miracles to weather some of the early skepticism. His efforts to take charge, regain momentum, and earn public confidence are all important keys in order to change the current stalemate that the TFG is drowning in.  

Somali Prime MinisterOne part of the problem is PM Nur Cadde’s hasty re-appointment of the “usual suspects” in his new cabinet, which is rife with a number of ministers from the previous cabinet that of PM Gedi. The same old faces with a few token minister posts thrown in for good gesture or measure. It is indeed disheartening that the new PM only selected his new cabinet ministers from a pool of incompetent bureaucrats who failed time and again the TFG to deliver in promoting a viable reconciliation and reconstruction process for the country. As such, there is no sign of any major changes in the nominations that embody change so far. In fact, as the prime minister struggles to convince his cabinet ministers to stay content in their posts, he will also fight to stamp his authority in the face of a powerful president seeking to influence his administration. This might further pave the way for another germination of a new animosity within the TFG government.

So how can the new PM redeem himself in the eyes of so many skeptics and opposition groups by orienting the feeble TFG towards a progressive road, instead of blindly following their old, failed paradigm, which is based on clan politics? Despite the daunting task facing the PM, he still can introduce needed changes if he successfully rallies the international community to help Somalia alleviate the current political situation. PM Nuur Cadde’s biggest challenge, however, lies in reconciling with the opposition in Mogadiscio who are tacitly supporting the insurgents. Because in the current intransigent political circumstances, engagement and honest dialogue, not tit-for-tat confrontation should be the order of the day for a government that was originally established on the premise of reconciling all different parties. Once this happens, other difficulties facing the TFG, including lack of international support and aid will resolve themselves.


Though President Yusuf has staked his government’s ambitions on the success of PM Nuur Cadde’s new cabinet which he implored to act dynamically in tackling the country’s numerous intransigent problems. But the President missed an important opportunity to install such an ambitious plan. By most accounts, the President Yusuf is focused on amassing a horde of “yes men” who will overlook all of his miscalculations, while admonishing rivals who would be a challenge to his government. He needs to consult with the public and most importantly the budding of Somali intellectuals and technocrats in the Diaspora, in a way that he perhaps never did before. Because honest consultations will not reduce his influence or least likely remove his responsibilities for making the final judgment about how to run the country.


It is finally dawning on most people that the remaining term (less than two years) of the TFG might run out while they are still squabbling over who should serve in important minister posts. But what most of these disgruntled parliamentarians fail to appreciate is that they are NOT elected officials of the people, but rather nominated by their clan elders who seldom represent the people. As it stands, the PM has satisfied the so called 4.5 power sharing system where the composition of the required ministerial and parliament posts are based on. As such, they need to keep in mind that they have no right to wiggle their fingers and boycott the government if they do not get their favored ministerial posts. They do need to recognize they are not part of a truly elected government, but a farce regime installed in order to placate their ex-warlord status so that eventually “a government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the Earth.”


So far the prime minister has shown too much allegiance to the president and that itself might eventually be his downfall because he must demonstrate independence from the president to carry out his official directives. And here lies how the TFG can eventually succeed in accomplishing its mandate or miserably failing it, similar to that of its predecessor transitional government - the TNG. In conclusion, the TFG administration is paying the price for failing to engage “free thinkers” both in the country and in the Diaspora in fear of losing its grip of “an imagined” power. It is also paying the price for allowing Meles of Ethiopia to meddle in their internal affairs as though Somalia was one of his provincial states under the Addis administration. And finally the TFG is paying the price for not putting together an effective, transparent government that is free of nepotism and corruption. If matters are not immediately turn around, Somalia might never have another opportunity to salvage its existence and will sink further into misery.


Heikal I. Kenneded

Washington D.C. 

E-mail: [email protected]

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