Somalia: The dream that never was
By Hassan E. Ali
In less than three months after the presidential election in Somalia, the hope for a peaceful, and a better Somalia seem to be dissipating. While it is still too early to judge, yet the direction the country has taken so far has put the mainstream Somalis in a panic mode. Media reports have confirmed that the security in Mogadishu has gotten worse because of the lack of progress in forming a more effective government.
Somali’s hailed the victory of Hassan Sheikh as a Somali President; his approval rate skyrocketed right after his election and Somalis began to feel united. Regrettable, the President has since then made several bad choices that left many question his political motives, vision and his desire to lead the country. The President’s first major blunder was his choice for the prime minister. The President’s decision sharply contrasted the public’s plead for an experienced technocrat for the office. It was instantly obvious that Somalia is now tested with inexperienced President, a submissive Prime Minister and a corrupt parliament to be trusted for the future of the NEW REPUBLIC.
The President’s next slip-up was the formation of a meager, inexperienced cabinet that is basically set up to fail or remain idle. These two unpopular decisions has led many analyst to believe 1) the President is creating more power for himself to emerge as an executive President, or 2) he may be having trouble prioritizing the pressing issues of our country.
The President’s consistent refusal of forming a more effective, skilled, legitimate and broadly based national authority will have grave consequences on 1) the security of the country, 2) assist the full balkanization of Somalia or the integration of part of Somalia into Kenya and part into Ethiopia, and 3) revival of Al-shabab.
The international monitoring group report of July 2012 stressed that “a steady trickle of foreign fighters is reported to be leaving Somalia. These successes may prove short-lived unless Somalia’s Transitional Federal Institutions are replaced by a more effective, legitimate and broadly based national authority when their mandate expires in August 2012”.
No matter what his motivations are, he is proven to be ineffective, unsympathetic about Somalia’s reality and unwilling to listen or at least sell his ideas to the public. His latest interactions with regional governors and security officials sounded pedestrian, symbolizing his complete lack of leadership. Another major misconception emerging from his leadership is the President’s believe that his party the “Damul-Jadid” won the election; accordingly, the party alone should be in charge of the political future of the country. It is uncharacteristic for a member of a civil society who witnessed 21 years of destruction and clan conflict to pay no heed to the facts in the ground.
No one knows what role the PM has played, if any in the formation of the cabinet. Several reliable sources confirm that he has been handed the names of the cabinet members following approval from Damul_jadid and the President.
The PM’s latest interview with Shukri Maxamuud Afrax from Somali Channel was aimed to highlight his policies and boost his ratings, but unfortunately it turned out to be a disaster. Throughout the interview he reminded the viewers the military regime of Siyad Barre where lies and propagandas were part of the political machinery of the regime. Although the friendlier reporter’s job was to show an effective PM to prevent the growing dissatisfaction of the public, unfortunately the interview only confirmed his real weakness, which involves overstatements and lies.
Somalia desperately needs to create jobs for the youth to stop violence. Somali youth have no hope for a better future and this government does not seem to grasp the importance of this issue on the reconciliation of the country.
With the entire political barometer of Somalia pointing toward a very bad beginning for the “NEW REPUBLIC”, the public is left with limited choices. In anyway, the president will have to fight all the challenges of his presidency with a minimal or no public support or trust. Yet, when push comes to shove, he will only have to blame himself and his Damul_jadid party as he repudiated the public call for unity and reconciliation.
The president might be still struggling managing his post victory hangover, but he will sooner or later realize that he has made big blunders in his first three months in the office than he has ever anticipated. Unfortunately Somalia will pay the hefty price and not the president because as a society accountability is foreign to our culture. Somali parliament won’t be able to sustain a strong opposition against the President and his Damul_Jadid party because of the unpredictable nature of its members. Hassan will still serve his full term as a President as long as the AMISOM forces are in Mogadishu guaranteeing his safety.
Amin Amir, the iconic Somali artists was not wrong when he predicted the next four years to be “another four years lost”. Time will tell, but it is almost certain that Hassan Sh. stole the dream from millions of Somalis who dreamed for a better, resourceful, unified and peaceful Somalia.
Hassan E. Ali