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The next Prime Minister is not born yet

By Abdulkadir Mohamed
Sunday, November 04, 2007


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Speculations of who will be the next prime minister are becoming an infectious bug that is spreading like unstoppable pandemic at least among the Somali people in my area and elsewhere. Almost everyone I know or come across is obsessed with it


To some, it may sound silly and sacrilegious to talk about the recent resignation of Ali Ghedi, the late Somali Prime Minister of the transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the ensuing saga of who will be selected as the next PM.


While the whole power struggle between Ghedi and President Yusuf of the TFG was going on, more than hundred thousand Mogadishu residents where in forced flight to escape from the indiscriminate shelling between the occupying Ethiopian troops and Somali insurgents. And as result of this carnage, thousands more are in deep crisis. Thousands have already perished and million people are being displaced.


Mogadishu IDPsDuring the time of Ghedi's ducking, one of the powerful warlords in Mogadishu ordered entire Mogadishu neighborhoods to be vacated and vowed that those who resist his orders would pay a deadly price. They had to prepare to be leveled to the ground was the warlord's ultimatum. The crime for the poor residents of these "unruly" neighborhoods is the perception that they were either sympathetic or supportive of the insurgency against the warlord guild and the occupying Ethiopian troops. The warlord's declaration of total destruction was taken seriously and within three days, residents of three main neighborhoods in the southern part of Mogadishu began yet another damned exodus to the city's outskirts to join thousands of internally displaced people who made the nefarious journey to escape from the never-ending carnage earlier.


The massive displacement and insecurity in Mogadishu prompted international humanitarian agencies to sound the SOS sirens to the world in order to save the poor residents of Mogadishu from the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe.


Many are confused how much suffering it takes for a situation to be considered a "humanitarian catastrophe? Isn't this even worse than the tragic situation in Darfur? How long it takes for the international community to recognize the support they bestowed to the ineffective transitional federal government is not saving lives and not creating stability and peace?


The international community that backs the Transitional Federal Government seems to busy playing the shuffling game of selecting the next PM too. Let the fleeing Mogadishu mothers and children eat warlord bullets, Ethiopian shelling and insurgent bombs.


EX-PM GediIt is believed that the international community pressured Ghedi to step down after they summoned him the second time in Addis Ababa. Why was Ghedi booted out, you may ask?  Wasn't he a compliant? Yes he was all of that and more but Ghedi committed the cardinal sin!  After his return from the first trip to Addis, Ghedi got bubbly and bold in his verbal retort vis-à-vis with Yusuf, the TFG President. Ghedi forgot the fact that both he and Yusuf were two different faces in the same card. The leaders of Transitional Federal Government (TFG) owe their ascendancy to power to Ethiopia and thus are beholden to Meles Zenawi, the Ethiopian dictator. Ghedi, out of step of his dutiful temperament, urged people in Mogadishu to stand up to the TFG forces. Ghedi's verbal faux pas and shout out to Mogadishu didn't go well with Ethiopia and thus had to be called again in Addis to be bullied to abandon his premiership. And as a compliant subordinate, he had to follow orders.


Was ex-premiere Ghedi the sacrificial lamb or the classic scapegoat for the TFG's failure to tame Mogadishu? Was he a useful idiot whose tenure and significance expired after the foreign meddlers of the Somali affair reached their goal to dismantle the few remaining obstacles to obliterate Mogadishu? There are those who believe Ghedi was a man in control of his undertaking of self-enrichment and wealth accumulation. Rumors have it that the ex-prime minister boasted to be a 50-ish man with 50 million dollars. An accomplishment for an obscure veterinarian-turned-political-opportunist!


Ghedi's three year adventure as the transitional federal government's prime minister and in Somali politics had been very turbulent. He escaped few suicide attempts on his life, two no-vote confidences against his tenure. He would probably be remembered as another failed Somali leader. Or maybe, to some, as a traitor.


The feud taught many that the so-called Somali leaders cannot team up for even one common cause. Certainly, as long as we have such leaders in power, there will be more mistrust which in the end would spoil the chances of ever seeing an end to Somalia's self-inflicted misery.


Now that Ghedi is gone, question is would the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) leadership yield to the realities in the ground, mend their ways and overhaul their failing policies? Or would it be business as usual where the prevailing warlord mentality of winner takes all would continue?


Before we contemplate on these questions and the obvious fact that the answer lies elsewhere; let us look what the TFG group accomplished in their three year of existence?


First year:  they were happy to stay in Nairobi hotels until the Kenyans kicked them out. Second year: they were homeless in provincial towns, in search of capital city and legitimacy among Somalis. Third year was a breakthrough and started with the toppling of the impatient Islamists by the invading Ethiopian troops at the behest of Bush Administration's and his "war on terror" adventure.


If one considers the history of the Somali warlords and their obsession to destroy and dismantle, one can grasp the imposing conquest they had in the third year. The TFG accomplished to uproot half of Mogadishu residents; making the capital a ghost city where those who remain hope nothing but death and destruction. The ceaseless bombing of Mogadishu by all forces is stirring some government supporters to shamelessly suggest a new capital city to replace this cursed capital. The TFG succeeded to shutdown by means of constant shelling the two main markets of Mogadishu: "Suuqa Bakaaraha and Suuq Bacaad". They were also able to chase influential businessmen and their assets out of the country. This flow of capital is another tragic consequence of the Somali civil war. Besides the loss of human life, Somalia was already suffering the brain drain misfortune where the educated and the urban elite fled the country because of the never ending violence. And now the remarkable Somali entrepreneurs of money wiring, telecommunications and commerce are sadly joining the refugee ranks.


The TFG forces were able to silence, again by means of killing, imprisonment and harassments the nascent free media in the country, killing some of its pioneering founders and forcing scores of its brave journalist into exile and refuge. The TFG forces were also able to invalidate, to some extent, the hardworking civil society and women organization groups that campaigned tirelessly for the protection of civilian life and human rights.


Such is the TFG accomplishment.  Instead of promoting the rule of law and human decency, instead of tolerating different opinions, the TFG leaders have gone against everything a civilized and reasonable government takes pride of. By judging its behavior and accomplishment so far, one can see that the TFG is hell-bent. There is a justifiable suspicion that it may prolong its existence and sustain its power by any means necessary beyond 2009. The TFG came to power by way of war and probably will keep it by use of violence.


But the current talk is all about who is going to be the next prime minister until the end of the transitional government's term in 2009. Would the new PM bring change of policies and direction to steer the country towards genuine inclusive reconciliation and power sharing?


As the saying goes "where you stand depends on where you sit". The next prime minister has to be inline with Ethiopia's policy of having a weak Somali government. The next PM has to work with the existing fiefdoms, petty politicians and warlords. There are plentiful of men who are available to conform and fulfill these Ethiopian pre-requisites. The abundances of such men willing to serve the interest of Ethiopia and keep the status- quo of warlord-ism and civil strife is perhaps what pressed Seyoum Mesfin, the Ethiopian foreign minister to come to Baidao for cherry-picking.


However, there is also the "bring the technocrats in" ballyhooing promoted by the international backers of the transitional government. To have this, the parliament has to amend the dreaded and often confusing TFG constitution to allow non-parliamentarians to hold office in the government. This is coupling some competent and experienced technocrats with the ineffective warlords.


Finally, there is the outrageous case of clannish entitlement. There is already an accepted notion that the next prime minister should come from the ousted one's sub-clan. Or all hell will break loose if the next premiere is not selected from the "powerful" sub-clan in North Mogadishu. There excuse for this case or the fear is that by losing the premiership, the "North Mogadishu sub-clan" may join the insurgency.  Another outrageous view is also circling that the next PM  to come from "south Mogadishu" to put down the insurgency.


One fact that came from Ghedi's recent fall is that, despite the unspeakable atrocities and destructions committed by his government against innocent Somalis in Mogadishu, Ghedi was able to use the "clan card" and court the support of Mogadishu sub-clans. The elders of the clans accepted to lick their wounds and come to Ghedi's rescue.


This whole obsession with who is going to lead the executive branch of the TFG while there is an unfolding humanitarian catastrophe is a proof that Somalis are suffering of a total amnesia as people.  Somalia is not only a failed state but its society is failed too.

Somalis became mere spectators to their slow death. They choose to support tormenters and killers.


Every region of Somalia is led by irrational trigger-happy men.  Even the supposedly peaceful northern regions are now at each others throat?  And Somalis have sided with the warlords in power and became their staunch supporters; whishing more destruction for the other sides.


If the humiliation of losing our nation-state and sovereignty is not enough, then at least the continuous suffering of our people should make this obsession with the "next PM" obsolete and non-issue. One fact is clear, the current leadership and the men vying for power don't have what it takes to save Somalia. When those saviors will come is a mystery and that is why I believe that the generations that will stand up and save Somalia are yet to be born.

Abdulkadir Mohamed

E-mail: [email protected]

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