by Abdul Ghelleh
Friday February 10, 2017
President Farmajo can now pick up from where he left it off all those years ago.
Somalis are rightfully celebrating around the world on the election yesterday of Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo as the new president of Somalia. And they are celebrating in style. This is yet another confirmation that while the members of Somalia’s parliament accept cash for votes, they also have a heart for their country. It is a breath of fresh air. We now know that anyone who believes that bribes can buy him or her high office is going to think twice before handing out that brown envelope. And you may be able to extend your term by few months (Mogadishu) or by a year (Garoowe) or by more than two years (Hargeysa). But when you concede to the gathering under that tree, your fate is sealed and you are out into the woods. This has nothing to do with populisms in Europe and the United States. It is the unwritten Somali constitutional clause. It is also democracy – Somalia style.
In fact an informal poll suggested that if this was one person one vote the outcome would have been the same, given Farmajo’s ‘can do attitude’ during his brief premiership some years earlier. President Farmajo has three distinctive advantages. 1. He is the elected president not an appointed prime minister. 2. He has an unequivocal mandate from the Somali people. 3. And he is exposed - through working and living – to the workings of a functioning society (the United States). We now look forward to seeing how the new president puts these opportunities, qualities and skills to the test, in order to make Somalia functioning once again.
Those with ill feelings inside and outside of the country are now biting their lips. Somaliland, fearing he may defect to Mogadishu, has already told Ali Khalif Glaydh, the self-styled president of the northern unionists, to hasten up the talks in Djibouti and declare allegiance for the secession. This is a desperate and futile move.
The new president now needs to build on his popularity and start headhunting. He needs to exclude from the new government anyone who participated in the corruption and the bad governance of the past five years. To start with, president Farmajo needs a strong team that can manage change and delicately see through a major transformation of country and society. Emotions, while hard to contain, should play no part in this. There is no need to having confrontational relationships with neighbouring states and/or international partners. Foreign trips by government officers must be curtailed. And at least seventy per cent of the government resources and foreign donations should be redirected to ensuring the stability of the country, with countryside from Beled-Weyne to Kismayo being the major focus.
In partnership with those assisting Somalia to overcome lawlessness, dealing with Al Shabab and other anarchists - whether in Safari suits or an Afghan outfit - must be the utmost priority for the new team. Wahhabi culture must be rejected and the Somali norms, long disturbed by foreign traditions, reinstated. The relationship, if any, of Al Shabab and the African troops must be also established within the first hundred days. Simply, the status quo is unacceptable.
And finally, with unhindered cooperation from partner states and agencies, I am confident that president Farmajo is able to pacify Al Shabab within three years. And with that, although we do not see green shoots immediately appearing on the horizon, the new president may be able to lay the ground for dairy farms to be built around the two rivers, ready to produce great tasting Farmaggio by the end of his tenure!