by Mohamed Ibrahim
Wednesday, April 14, 2021
As an outside observer on the tumultuous events surrounding the Somali elections, I cannot help but remember a time I was served my favourite meal and without thinking about where I have eaten more than I could swallow. I think it is safe to say some of us have all been there. In political terms, this is the challenge that faces HE President Farmaajo and his government today. It is fair to say the president has dug up a hole for his government with ill-advised illegal unilateral move to extend his mandate for two years in order to usher in allusive One man, One vote election. One Man, One Vote is a noble goal which serves the long-term interest of Somalia and it is my humble opinion the president will win a landslide when that opportunity arises.
Thus, in the field of government and governance all depends on how you pursue your agenda, the mechanisms and consensus you build around a common strategic vision for Somalia through the Somali constitution. The task is even more paramount and delicate when you are governing a fragile political structure and discourse that requires foresight and careful balancing act. In the current election saga, this where the president has failed miserably.
The current stalemate is complex because everyone is after power at all costs and this where fundamentally the problem lies. In the absence of judicial court and universal suffrage, international community and civil society statements on twitter encouraging all to meet at the table for political compromise is not going to cut it. This level of naivety can also be costly if not addressed.
The government has pursued a policy of regime change from the beginning and it has failed in Puntland and Jubbaland. Now the same actors are or were on same table for compromise and political settlement. When confidence, statecraft, goodwill and trust is very low, do not expect any meaningful solutions for Somalia and the region at large. To put it mildly, these political actors are - at each other’s throats. Under this difficult context there must be internal and external intervention from international election observers and independent intellectuals within Somalia to bridge this protracted turmoil, which if not addressed, will have disastrous consequences for Somalia and the region.
In my observations I have also seen statements from the Somalia government and others alluding to the issue of sovereignty. Pride is one thing, and it is be applauded. However, they miss point. Somalia is under United Nations Security Council Resolution 2520, which gives legal mandate for the international community to advice, guide, support and if required militarily intervene in the affairs of Somalia. This is not imposed from international community but unfortunately our longstanding problems (terrorism, piracy, IDPs, political instability) have become international liability - and if not addressed (actively) by the international community can spilled over to the Horn of Africa and beyond. In my book, you are only sovereign as long as you can govern and manage your overarching challenges such as security, humanitarian, political stability and economic development.
It is also worth pointing the IC has lost blood and treasure in helping to resolve Somalia’s home-grown terrorism and to be barking out “sovereignty” in the face of this sacrifice is actually disservice to that much required support over the years.
Somalia has come a long way and, in a country, faced with many challenges there has only been handful predictable themes, namely free and thriving business enterprise and peaceful transition of power. One of those is under threat today. However good or ill meaning your aims are, this is a red line Somalia will not be allowed to cross locally and internationally.
Going to back president Farmaajo’s recent actions, there are chorus of people with diversity of interest from IC, FMS, Apposition parties and Somali civil society who have all expressed serious concern for the actions of the president. In the interest of fairness, they cannot all be wrong. This is something for government to ponder on in the coming days and weeks.
Finally, despite these challenges, our best days are ahead of us. However, we must be guided by reason, evidence, and consensus. This is where progress lies for government and beyond.
Mohamed Ibrahim BA/MSc, London School of Economics and Political Science, is a keen writer and social campaigner, London based, He can be reached via @Mi_shiine, Email: [email protected]