Hassan Sheikh Mohamud (HSM)
Monday, September 12, 2016
HSM stands for “Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahideen” and is an acronym used by Alshabaab, a stubborn unpopular Somali terrorist organization that refuses to go away. HSM also stands for “Hassan Sheikh Mohamud” and is an acronym used by many to mean Somalia’s current president, a stubborn unpopular president who refuses to go away even as his term expires.
Recent Caldense group poll found that 80 percent of respondents have unfavourable view of the president. In 2012 poll, the same Caldense group respondents had 30 percent of unfavourable view of the then President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.
With 4 years as Somalia’s head of state, Somalis from all walks of life , agree that President Hassan has failed to deliver his 2012 election promises, the 6 Pillar Plan. Khadiijo Rooble, Mogadishu Real Estate Agent, said “it really doesn’t make much sense to list the 6 Pillar Plan because President Hassan’s entire presidency has been a failure”. Khadiijo notes people were very optimistic in his first year and construction boom started as HSM took office. But as the president struggled to govern, so did the economy. The fact that Real Estate prices have fallen in Somalia and particularly in Mogadishu is a sign that consumer confidence has eroded under this president. “He has been poor performer for the Somali economy” complained Khadiijo Rooble. The president’s own midterm report and his 3d year Parliamentary speech conceded his presidency’s inability to govern by blaming fragmented political environment and terrorism.
We gave the president a chance and cheered for him even when he stumbled & fumbled repeatedly. He has struggled to solidify the formation of the emerging Somali federal states. The president wasted considerable amount of time meddling with the formation of Jubaland and South West states. The formation of Galmudug State went his way. The president has ensured his former Security Minister to become the newly elected Galmudug President. Even as his term expired, the president is still struggling to find a way to form Hiiraan and Middle Shebelle state. Realizing the new Hawadle Ugaas wasn’t a pushover, HSM tried to bypass Ugaas Hassan and failed.
HSM’s Ugaas Hassan fiasco is as embarrassing as his entire presidency, noted a close confidant of the president who understandably opted to remain unanimous. Imagine President Kenyatta failing to make an agreement with HSM and saying that he does not recognize HSM as president but will only deal with former President Sheikh Sharif as Somalia’s legitimate president. That is exactly what HSM is doing to Hawadle, bypassing their Ugaas with the hope that his Hawadle cronies will sellout the Hiiraan grievance and reach a spurious agreement.
Ugaas Hassan is a benevolent leader but not a pushover. The enthronement of Ugaas Hassan was well-organized grandiose event attended by thousands of supporters, including politicians, clan leaders, scholars and social activists. It was also a power display of those who dissent HSM’s illegal meddling with Hawadle clan’s traditional succession process.
The 2015 sacking of the most popular and able Somali ambassador to Kenya, Ambassador Mohamed Ali Americo disregarded the essential service the Nairobi Embassy was providing to the Somali people. Since he took office, the president has replaced many seasoned Somali diplomats and replaced them with inexperienced close family and friends. This act of rewarding servitude before service symbolized HSM’s blurry presidency. It also contradicts one of HSM’s 6 Pillar Plan.
Terror attacks against Somali business community, particularly hotels and restaurants has intensified under Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. His administration’s latest response was to blame hotel owners for the lack of security. Abdirizak Omar Mohamed, Minister of Security, in his usual post-attack press conference, issued a cease and desist order to business owners who fail to thwart terror attacks. Many occasional observers have been flabbergasted by the administration’s antics, but those who regularly follow this amateur administration’s governance weren’t that surprised. The attempt to shift the onus on others has been the hallmark of HSM’s administration. Blaming security failures on hotel owners also contradicts one of HSM’s 6 Pillar Plan.
Dahabo Colow, a strong Hassan Sheikh supporter, contentiously faults the president as a pushover. Dahabo argues Hassan Sheikh’s leadership has been based on emotions rather than sound policy. “Why would he accept Minister Abdikarim Guuleed’s resignation”, questions Dahabo. It is true the minister was one of the strongest and most effective security ministers Somalia has ever had. Dahabo and many others believe, in the wake of Alshabab’s horrendous attack on the federal parliament, Minister Guuleed was entitled to display emotions & offer his resignations. However, what surprised many observers like Dahabo (and perhaps the minister himself) is that HSM accepted the resignation in record speed, as if he was expecting it. Frustrated by relentless criticism on HSM, Dahabo Colow consoles herself & other supporters by reminding us that we should not be fooled by HSM’s affability & toothy smile and that if cornered the president will not hesitate to use state resources to silence his critics.
The 2015 arbitrary arrest of Ali Yare is an unfortunate example of the current administration’s attempt to silence those who criticize the president. Ali Yare is a talented social media powerhouse. Ali Yare has been arrested and freed without due process. His valid criticism against the president has been remarkable. He has mastered the art of presenting HSM’s contradictory audio and visual statements to the public. For example, Ali Yare has presented a recorded video of candidate HSM complaining against the then President Sheikh Sharif’s election delay and the right to have a freedom of speech. Apparently, HSM was not happy with critics digging archives and making their case as HSM vs. HSM.
Few weeks ago, the administration has harassed and detained a peaceful assembly of opposition members gathering in a Mogadishu hotel. One of HSM’s 6 Pilar Plan is to strengthen Somalia’s justice system. But arbitrary arrests against citizens who freely express their views and the criminalization of peaceful assembly do not strengthen justice, but undermine and contradict HSM’s 6 Pillar Plan. HSM has neglected the justice system. Mohamed Haji Ingiriis noted that people in Mogadishu seek justice not from President HSM’s corrupt courts but Alshabab’s HSM Turcaaye Justice Court.
Critics argue that President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is currently working without a mandate. As his term ended days ago, HSM is busy trying to find a way to steal the next election which is scheduled in 7 weeks, on October 30, 2016. Many doubt the election will take place on schedule. HSM has had 4 years to prepare the 2016 presidential elections and his failure to have the presidential election on schedule summarizes his failed presidency. He guffawed when I asked an opposition member whether HSM can win without corruption. He responded that it was unfortunate to say HSM’s only path to win the 2016 election goes through a dark alleyway. The member has pointed out the president’s attempt & subsequent failure to appoint a new Sultan for his friend Farah Sheikh Abduqadir as a disgraceful act aimed to steal the election.
We believe the president’s sincerity to govern Somalia as best as he can, but sincerity alone cannot deliver if his best isn’t good enough. President Hassan’s presidency has been reduced into two simple acts; travelling abroad or staying at the Villa orchestrating how to manipulate the inevitable upcoming election. Paraphrasing Obama, the member insisted, that for the sake of Somali people the time has come for President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to step aside. It is sad that HSM’s once promising presidency has ended in an utter failure.