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Open Letter to President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud

Mohamed Haji Ingiriis
Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Mr President,

Your presidential tenure expires within few days. Presidency is not about profits; it is about protecting people from poverty. You are now stood posed to do away from the presidential scene. For over two decades since the ouster of the military dictatorship, you have for the first time begun to dictate the judiciary, the legislative and the executive branches of the government. One of the reasons why African states are prone to fail and fragment is not only because of poor and bad leadership, it is because leaders insist on staying in power without public legitimacy and popular consent. The State of Somalia crumbled and collapsed because of the destructive policies pursued by the military regime in the 1970s and the 1980s. Conceptually speaking, the word ‘Somalia’ is now oxymoronic and even misnomer. There is no one single unitary Somalia as we had known before 1990. There is a plethora of Somalias. Why not yet one single unitary Somali State? It is mainly because you and your cronies have bought the presidency from the Bakaara market and continue to claim representing the whole territory of the former (now defunct) Somali State. The term ‘Somalia's territorial integrity’ has become a joke not only in the Horn of Africa, but also in the world. The stateless Palestinian father and war-ridden South Sudanese mother will laugh in a similar fashion at you if they hear ‘Somalia's territorial integrity’.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud

Somalia, as we knew and emerged from independence in 1960, is no more; it has been made it and remained a no-man's land not by outsiders, but by political gangsters among Somalis who are adamant to profit from the war economy and the international aid. Our country fell prey to opposing political brokers and business people profiting from the status quo and diaspora people seeking opportunities in a country torn apart by prolonged armed conflicts. You have been part of these war economy profiteers for more than two decades. It is a shame for us that our country is where political brokers who profited from the war economy through various ways are aspiring for influential political positions. In the impending election, it is estimated that at least $50,000 will be given to the parliamentarians to vote for the highest bidder for the position of the presidency. Rather than remaining a faculty of national unity, you have made the Parliament become a Bakaara market where the highest bidder can succeed at the expense of those who hold on their moral ground. By virtue of her moral ground and of better higher education, Yusur Abraar refused to share the state spoils with your cronies and said to you, in a clear voice, ‘no thank you, Mr President’.

State without State

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Somalia, at present, is an ersatz State without an empirical State. With lament and lamentations, we are all seeking one Somalia, a luxury we cannot afford. Somalis are a society in search of the Somali State. Somalis – everywhere they are – are profoundly preoccupied with belonging and reclaiming their State. Understandably, your reality is contrastingly different from the reality on the country. My words may appear to be bizarre to you. But be aware that what is ‘bizarre’ to you is plausible; you regularly receive people seeking favours from your regime to share the state spoils. Listening to panegyric lyrics and librettos full of flattering sycophancy creates an adaptation of purposefully-composed complimentary vocabularies. It all hinges upon two divergent positions: either in favour of the regime or challenging the status quo to fight for a better outcome and crucial change in 2016. If you still subscribed to the illusion that Somalia is ‘rising’, it is rising to downward on downhill through downstairs. For example, no one in your government can travel beyond the Maka Al-Mukaramah road at night.

The quasi-State claimed by the pseudo-government – your regime in the Villa Somalia – cannot venture into the Bakaara Market and Huriwaa where people have an Al-Shabaab court called Turcaaye Justice Court in which most of the Mogadishu population flock en masse every morning to find justice denied by your outgoing regime’s Banaadir regional courts. This is a fact on the face of your regime authorities that they are not rightfully recognised by the Somali public who ignore your corrupt justice system, let alone the sham governance structures. It is undisputed fact that people in Mogadishu tend to consider Al-Shabaab as a more legitimate parallel government providing better security and justice system than your corrupt regime. Indeed, Somalia under President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed and Prime Ali Mohamed Geeddi was much better off than the Somalia under your dictatorial rule. In any case, Abdullahi Yusuf and Geeddi conformed to – and complied with – the parliament declarations and decisions. Under your authority, the parliament became a hostage to your whims to the extent that it was now discarded in favour of the unconstitutional ‘Forum for National Consultation’. The illegality of such fake forum is all too obvious to every Somali, adolescents and elders, from all walks of life. At present, there is no real state in any sense of the Weberian definition (or even a government on paper value) in Somalia other than a skeleton of state and a caricature of regime purporting to be in power and in place.

Where on earth can one find a regime guaranteeing in its official documents that it will dutifully represent foreign interests in a similar way with their country’s interest? This is a clear manifestation that your regime is served and serviced by foreign regimes which own and use it to achieve and attain their interests. Your regime is even worse than the Vichy regime in the World War II France which claimed – throughout its existence – that they represented nothing other than the French interest. In Mogadishu rests your regime pledging to be preserving and safeguarding the interests of foreign states. Luckily, the legality for your regime to stay in the Villa Somalia ends within few days. On 11 September 2016, the so-called State that is in Mogadishu will be given a full consideration for broad consultations among civil society groups and all other concerned Somalis.

Sorrow and Sovereignty

The security situation has deteriorated since 2012. Before 2012, the international visitors would go Villa Somalia to meet you as well as the Speaker and the Prime minister. After four wasted years, the international community dignitaries visiting Mogadishu, like US Secretary of State John Kerry, have to meet your regime at the airport or the highly-walled Halane compound. As of September 2016, Somalia is much sorrier than how it was in September 2012. There was then much hopes and better expectations than today where there are anxiety and uncertainty that Al-Shabaab, profiting from anarchy because of the feasible election fraud, could return to capture Mogadishu very easily and swiftly. It is indignity abolishing the Somali sovereignty that your regime is still protected and guided in the Villa Somalia by the African Union Forces (AMISOM). It would never have taken long for the Al-Shabaab leader to sit your seat at the Villa Somalia had it not been the strong AMISOM contingents protecting you inside the Villa Somalia, escorting you whenever you go out to – and come back from – the Aden Abdulle International Airport. The irony is that your regime has no even well-trained cross clan presidential guards that could protect him for the two hours you may need to take your bags hurriedly from the Villa while Al-Shabaab fighters are to creep and climb to your office from the side of the 15 May wall.

Given the peoples’ high expectations in 2012, it is unfortunate that your staff at the Villa Somalia take bribery from the business community and from anyone with wealth to get government contracts. It is not a secret that authorities in the seaport, airport and other income-generating economic sources are involved in embezzlement and fraud by providing the presidency with their cut and cake. It is with sadness and sorrow that your regime enjoys impunity for those crimes. You are oblivious at all of all these daylight robberies of public and people’s assets, but the fact is that, since you won the presidency because of bribing the outgoing parliamentarians, you cannot refuse the very corruption with which you came to power, let alone fighting against it. Bystanders around the Banaadir Hospital in Mogadishu posed this question to me ‘how can a man who himself has profited from corruption combat corruption?’. This is why you constantly ignore the calls from the Somali public to address the ever-growing chronic corruption. Your insincere smile does reveal more than conceal, characterised by embezzlement and misappropriation of money. Contrary to your official regime proclamations, one can safely conclude that the last four years (2012-2016) have been wasting years, as nothing tangible and meaningful towards political progression and state developmental activities (other than what the people have achieved for themselves) have been made. Where is the development that has been initiated by your regime?

The chronic corruption, the absence of popular legitimacy, the unpopularity of your regime, the lack of trust and the patron-client clan patrimonialism of your regime continue to contribute to the continuation of suicidal attacks. It was bewildering that you refused to admit the existence of corruption and, instead, said that ‘the corruption is perception’. This despite the fact that you yourself was elected through corruption and you came to the whole Somalia through bribing parliamentarians. You are committed to ensuring not merely a victory for your Damul Jadiid group, but an exclusion of your political opponents. This would give Al-Shabaab a legitimate authority to exploit public grievances to translate and transform that into action. Many people in Somalia are delighted with Al-Shabaab’s suicidal attacks and view as a form of pushing your corrupt regime to come to terms with the reality on the ground. Silence – by most of the Somali population – is a form of cheering with Al-Shabaab.

Trusting the Hyena with the Lamb

One concrete example was what happened on 9 November 2015, when the Parliament welcomed a new strange member who escorted himself to the house. Your interior and federal affairs minister Abdirahman Mohamed Hussein ‘Odowaa’, a protégé of yours who you had mentored at Simad Institute, has appointed himself as a Member of the Parliament. There were no questions raised by the Speaker of the Parliament Mohamed Sheikh Osman ‘Jawaari’ or by other MPs with regards to how an incumbent minister could incorporate his executive powers with a legislative body power. One member of the Parliamentary Committee for Ethics was reported to have raised some questions over the legitimacy of the swearing in ceremony of the minister, in spite of the fact that the hereditary traditional leader of the Saleebaan clan, who would have to be approved the parliamentary position, had not signed the legally-required appointment letter.

Many Somalis in Mogadishu and elsewhere were surprised at hearing that the interior minister had exploited his position to join the Parliament. The political corruption tells less of the professional criminality of your group and more of their secret plans towards the 2016 election. Reports from the presidential palace show that, since you opt to stay in power for another four years, you have played political corruption behind-the-scenes to get Odowaa replace Abdi Mohamed Abtidoon, an allied MP and a political broker for Damuljadiid, who was allegedly killed in Hotel Sahafi by the intelligence agencies. This act speaks volumes about how the 2016 outcome was tailored by your Damul Jadiid-led regime, revealing that you and your team have already begun to distort the electoral process way ahead 2016. No doubt that this act clearly illustrates that your regime has hijacked the 2016 electoral process before it happened, considering the personal coronation of the interior minister by himself to be an MP without free, fair and transparent process. It also indicates that the regime, by manipulating both the local resources and the international aid, is determined to win the presidency. The earlier promises of your regime to hold free and fair election in 2016 was now scrapped in favour of manipulative selection process based on the old political dispensation of 4.5 (the formula that supposedly allocates four equal power share among four major clans and half of that share to the cluster of minor clans).

Nevertheless, it is part of Somali resilience to expect that there would be a light at the end of the tunnel in 2016. This year is largely considered as an important landmark moment for the Somali people. The absolute majority of the people appear to be tired of the current regime to bring about peace and initiate radical change. In their own expectations, most people presume that the year will be a defining moment to change the current corrupt regime and replace it with an accountable better government ruled by responsible leaders who do take care of their people and their country, not for themselves, for their families and for their cronies. It seems that all those expectations were dashed to the ground by the corrupt deeds of the interior minister Abdirahman Odowaa by appointing himself an MP. At the same time, the minister is not alone in the corruption because he directly reports to your senior aides at the presidential palace.

Vote without Voice

Your secretive plan is to use figures such as Abdirahman Odowaa to operationalise your political campaign. You and your cronies can buy the parliament and manipulate it, but they cannot easily steal the presidency. Never has an incumbent President ever won re-election since the successive post-colonial democratic governments in Somalia and you perfectly realise this reality, but you can make a reverse by following in the footsteps of Mohamed Siad Barre who held his own ‘election’ of yes/no vote for President occurred in December 1986. It is scarcely surprising that you are now the only official well-resourced candidate for the post of the presidency after four years of profiting from corruption and war economy. If the 2016 presidential election culminates as you have plotted, the implications will be profoundly different and difficult: Al-Shabaab will most certainly welcome more recruits from those whose votes are to be stolen. Somalis are violent-prone people in their conflict-ridden environment. One cannot force them to swallow what they do not want to swallow. If you attempt to manipulate the upcoming election results by fraud, violence will develop as a strategic form of resistance pursued by desperate political opposition groups quickly arming themselves and their supporters. If the elections may culminate in your re-election, the majority of the people in Mogadishu predict that communal routing and violent protest will follow. People are really anxious about a possible Al-Shabaab infiltration in the capital due to the growing grievances against your regime.

To avert fraud and illegal outcome, the international community must intervene and supervise a smooth transfer of power in 2016. The UN Security Council should appoint an independent electoral commission to hold the election, if an election that is. The current handpicked regime-appointed individuals claiming an electoral commission are known for their allegiance and attachment to the regime, given the experiences we had in the recent flawed Galmudug political process. The electoral commission is composed of mediocre people who have been selected for their political sycophancy and panegyric performances to the president. As personalised bureaucrats, most of them are selected through clan loyalty, family ties and friendship within the Damul Jadiid. The hard truth is that there is no national project in Mogadishu. There is a combination of a clan project, a group project and an individualistic project ala Damul Jadiid in Mogadishu. Before it is too late to restore and reinstate, the Somali public must rise up to seek the Somali State through the ownership of all Somalis. If they accept that they have a ‘State’ in Mogadishu like this, they will delude themselves forever. Let us inform the Somali masses that they do not possess a State in any Weberian definition of State, but luckily they are on the path to find one by raising their voices.

As your regime authorities have been fearful of receiving the unfavourable outcome of 2016 election that could remove them from power, they have been in a hurry to grab whatever they can and then run away with it by residing outside the country in case they lose the power. Their favourable places for hiding their looted public booty are either Turkey, Tanzania or Kenya. The Somali people are appealing to those countries to be watchful and deny sanctuary for those who have looted the scanty assets of impoverished Somali masses. The Somali people are yearning for a new leadership that bring you and your big fishes, who have been involved in corruption since September 2012, to criminal court wherever you flee. The next team to assume power – if that be the case – from the 2016 election process must be willing and ready to chase them and bring them to court for their illegal actions. On the other hand, the governments of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Sudan and Saudi Arabia should stop providing cash to the current regime to induce them their support for the outsourced regional wars. The Somali people are watching the actions of those countries, especially when all the other former patron countries such as Qatar and Turkey have stopped paying cash to the current regime. The international community should stop behaving as a mouthpiece for the corrupt regime.

All in all, you have failed miserably in your duties so please resign on 10 September 2016, the same day your tenure ends legally. If not, another four wasted years without any expectation for radical change cannot be endured by the Somali public. Please do not waste Somali people’s time and resign as soon as quickly.

Long live Somalia.

Mohamed Haji Ingiriis
PhD Candidate at the University of Oxford
Research Associate at Kings College London
He can be reached at [email protected]

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