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Open letter to the Prime Minster of Somalia

By Mohamed Abdi Mohamed
Sunday, January 25, 2015

Mr. Prime Minister,

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My personal greetings to you. May ALLAH, grant you wisdom as you function in your new position as Prime Minister and at a personal level.

(A) In your role as Prime Minister, there are normally two perspectivesthat are likely to confront you. The first perspective is from the inside looking outward, the other is from the outside looking inward. Wisdom requires that you evaluate both perspectives.

Fate has cast you in the role of Prime Minister and it is expected that by now, you would have developed an internal perspective. This perspective requires that you balance your personal views and values with the political obstacles and possibilities facing a Prime Minister. In forging this balance, you need to realize that if one side outweighs the other, then balance is not achieved. Somalia cannot afford the dubious luxury of having a Prime Minister who cannot achieve the desired balance required to achieve political respect and credibility particularly at this delicate period of Somalia’s history. Your nomination and subsequent approval as Prime Minister signaled the need  forge compromise in the interest of national unity. It also signals the need for a Prime Minister with the capacity and courage to defend his right to choose his Cabinet after adhering to proper consultative protocols. If this position is untenable and uncomfortable for you, it is my personal view that you owe the President and Parliament your resignation.

The second perspective is one which challenges you to look from the outside. The world is watching with shaking heads at the unfortunate spectacle of having the third Prime Minister in less than three years. The propensity to leap from one political crisis to another needs to be ended. The causal factors need to be identified and confronted. It would be an understatement that those who promoted Somalia at the beginning of this Administration now are disappointed and are not as supportive. In addition, the failure to abide by proper governmental protocols is perceived as due in part to human capacity deficits that continue to haunt Somalia. No one should be surprised at lack of progress if some of persons holding high office in the organs of State are unqualified. On numerous occasions, successive Governments have been advised to address the issue of human capital development by surrendering the reins of power from political and clan based cronies and encouraging the appointment of technocrats particularly for the key Ministries of the government. So far, this advice seems to have fallen on deaf ears. It is the general opinion of many factions within the Parliament that personal priorities supersede those of the nation. This inevitably is responsible for the stain of corruption which continues to linger on the dignity of a broken nation.

The blending of these two perspectives should provide you with a clearer picture of a list of national priorities and whether or not these can be accomplished within prescribed timeframes and rise to the level of meeting legitimate expectations of the Somali people. At a bare minimum some of these include the following:

1. Bold and decisive actions regarding corruption. In the last UN Monitoring Report the following was stated. ”Despite the establishment of theFederal Government in 2012 the underlying corruption as a system of governance has not yet fundamentally changed.

2. The Monitoring Group said its investigations consistently found patterns of misappropriation with diversion rates of between 70 and 80 per cent and it said the diverted funds appeared to be partisan agendas that constitute threats to peace and security. It claimed the phenomenon of “secret contracting” had become a way of doing business since at least mid-2013 and this created the opportunity for misappropriation”.

Ignoring this report and /or failure to address this issue casts a shadow of doubt on the integrity of the entire political system in Somalia.

3. Establishment of a public service commission to sets qualification standards for holders of Public Office.

4. Establishment of Ethics commission to set standards for disclosure of assets for Parliamentarians, Ministers and members of the Presidential secretariat.

5. Accelerated implementation of a Public Financial System and published periodic reports.

6. A Peace and Reconciliation Commission.

Unless some of these are given urgent attention and focus, the Central Government will drift into an abyss of irrelevance. The restoration of confidence in the entire governance of the nation is a national necessity.  Government also needs to pay particular attention to two factors:

1.The narrow political agenda of well -funded Islamic forces lurking in the shadows in Somalia waiting to exploit the weakness of a Central Government.

2.Another factor is the growing conviction that the vision 2016 is unrealistic and unachievable. We face, once again, the possibility of some transitional Government after 2016.

(B) In your capacity as a citizen, the most valuable asset at your disposal is your integrity and good name. Without these, failure both as a holder of high office and as a person is certain. Previous conversations with you on a wide range of issues, have left me persuaded that you hold these virtues to be sacred .It would be a great and lasting service to your country, family and yourself if you were to declare to both friend and foe that your personal integrity is not for sale.

Lastly, this may be your last chance to be a relevant political figure in Somali politics. You face a herculean task of trying to restore confidence both within and outside of Somalia. If you try to hold on to office and you do not succeed, I predict that you will be digging a political grave for yourself. The laws of self-preservation require you to make a quick assessment of the probability that you can form a unity government. It is better for you to depart with honor rather than die a political death in a grave of shameful defeat.

In the words of Martin Luther King, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”



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