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Faithless Power versus Faithful Authority in Somalia
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by Prof. Abdi Ismail Samatar
University of Minnesota
Thursday, January 29, 2009

 

The Meaning of Faith

 

Mohamed Suleiman’s beautiful song for the Eid is not only suggestive of the joys of the past but reminisces about the great values which our people shared and which served them so well during testing times of yester years. Here is a line from the song:

 

Hadba kii arrin keena Ka kalee aqbalaaya Ilaahii ina siiyay isagaa ku abaal leh

 

Simply put, this line and the spirit of the song echo our traditional knack to generate timely ideas and the competence to listen and heed productive compromises. These qualities which nurtured our collective interest have been in wane for three decades and are now in peril to perish for eternity. As a result, much despair is visible in the Somali landscape. But it is worth to remember that there is no room for despondency as long as we are resolute and remain wedded to our people’s wellbeing and our faith.

 

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The concept of faith has triple meanings in the context of this brief essay. First, it means devotion to Allah and the straight path of Islam. As such, there is no room for wavering and we are required to adhere to the core principles of Islam (not as defined by any sectarian ideologue but by the Quran and the Haddith), one of which is imaan. Second, faith entails trust in one’s competence to pull oneself with one’s bootstraps as well as attend to the needs of her/his family conscious of the creator’s will. Third, faith means confidence in your community’s (neighborhood or nation) commitment to justice and fairness for all its members. These three dimensions do not exhaust the richness of the concept, but they provide enough scaffolding for this brief. The essay’s focus is particularly on the first and the last notations although the second element is also implicated in the process. Implicit in the essay is the assumption that there was a time in Somali history when our leaders and the general population were true to the edicts of imaan in public and family spheres. As the discussion will show, these two have been battered for the past 40 years. The genealogy of our betrayal had four phases and the pathways to our rejuvenation will minimally require a return to the faith.   

 

Faith and Freedom

 

Faith Under Colonialism

The struggle against British and Italian colonialism was initiated by the twin forces of Islam and our sense of being at the turn of the previous century. Sayyid Mohamed Abdulle Hassan charged by the demands of the colonial officers to abstain from calling for morning prayers in Berbera and infuriated by the Christianization of orphans took the lead to rid the country of the colonial scourge. Despite the existence of common values and heritage it was extraordinarily difficult to mobilize the population for an anti-colonial resistance. In addition, the scarcity of military and material resources, and non-existent communications infrastructure was a major barrier to a unified and collective action. Sayyidd Mohamed’s only instruments which gained the attention of Somali people were Islam and the power of Somali poetry. The dearth of deep knowledge of Islam was compensated for by Somalis’ strong attachment to the faith and it was this cord which Sayyid Mohamed hitched his message of liberation.  Most Somalis rallied to his side except for a few colonial lackeys or tribal chauvinists. Britain’s overwhelming power was so deeply frustrated by the Daraawiish’s skills that Somalia became the first colonial war in which war planes were used to subjugate freedom fighters. The guerilla tactics of the Daraawissh were so effective that they almost succeeded in driving the colonists out of the country. Hubris got the best of the leadership which led them to fighting a conventional war that ultimately led to the extinction of Somalia’s maiden liberation war.  This was a glorious war which inspired modern Somali nationalism and which ultimately gave birth to the Somali Youth League. What made the Sayyid and his movement endure for more than two decades in spite of the extreme odds against them was the steadfast loyalty to the faith and the population’s common destiny. Disaster followed on the few occasions when the leadership deviated from these principles.

 

Once the major Somali/Islamic resistance was contained British and Italian authorities in their respective Somali colonies had the challenge of manufacturing consent from the population and thus sought to bring on board some religious leaders. Such efforts mollified some of the antipathy towards colonial rule while deliberately heightening tribal identity as the principal political signifier of the native population. This set a process in place whose dynamic continues to undermine national solidarity.  It was during this period of Islamic hibernation that anti-colonial movements led by the Somali Youth League/Somali National League (SYL/SNL) emerged. These parties tapped Islamic sentiments to rally the public for independence, but the political establishment never entertained a major role for Islam. Instead, they simply assumed the importance of the faith for Somalis’ common destiny. In the South, SYL came to dominate the political landscape after a brief period of existence. Word spread to all Somali territories and subsequently the spirit of Somalinimo which lay dormant for a quarter of a century was resuscitated and Mogadishu became the nationalist hub.  The Italian Trusteeship authorities meted utter cruelty to the party and its followers, often using what nationalist came to dub as “Pro-Italian” elements. Despite being outgunned and out-resourced SYL maintained its steel and the population heeded its message of national unity, common civic belonging, and freedom.

 

Italy’s agenda of turning cultural genealogy into the principle political Somali identity got its first thrashing in the municipal elections of 1954 and its fate was sealed by the overwhelming SYL victory in 1956 election for the territorial assembly. What gave the Somali people confidence in SYL’s inclusive political program was the way in which all were treated equally. Second, the leadership exuded trust and self-sacrifice for the collective good. A most germane example was the resistance of key leaders of the party to take up ministerial portfolios in 1956. Nearly all the individuals which premier designate Abdullahi Isa approached declined to accept his offer noting that “they did not want to shame themselves given that they did not have commensurate skills or the experience to adequately tackle the demands of such onerous responsibility.”  Faith in SYL’s principles and fear of public shame were the reasons for their reasonable behavior (contrast this to today’s TFG and other aspirants). 

 

Democracy & Faith

 

Political divisions between civic nationalist and sectarian entrepreneurs re-emerged in the north and the south during the dying days of colonialism, but the nationalists remained dominant. After independence Somalia’s new leaders anchored the liberal national constitution on Islam as articles 30 and 50 made clear. Article 30 declared that “The personal status of Moslems is governed by the general principles of the Islamic Sharia” while article 50 stated that “The doctrine of Islam is the main source of Laws of the State.”[i] Despite these pronouncements the state’s political character was democratic and senior democratic leaders were not concerned about political Islam. However, they were aware of the potential influence which Islamic leaders could command and attempted to channel it towards reinforcing the population’s commitment to the faith while watching against sectarian use of the faith for particularistic political ends.

 

The principle concern of the democratic leadership and those who remained faithful to the foundational principals of SYL and other civic oriented parties was the gradually re-grouping of the sectarian elements in parliament and some senior civil servants whose core values were self-enrichment by exploiting the very authority which the public entrusted them with. The turning point in this current came during the 1961 constitutional plebiscite when two disgruntled leaders, because they or their friends did not garner the highest offices in the land, tried to undermine the referendum by tacitly mobilizing their genealogical groups to vote no. These two individuals were less concerned in de-stabilizing the young republic and more committed to immediately exact political revenge in the hope that the defeat of the charter will humiliate the nation’s leaders and thus afford then unimpeded rise to power. It was unfortunate that they did not care enough to appreciate the value of supporting the charter on its merits and then competing for political office in the election that immediately followed the plebiscite. What made this behavior bewildering was the fact that these two men participated in the making of the constitution, had every opportunity to shape it and did so, and were senior ministers in the government. Happily the majority of the Somali people thought differently and endorsed the charter. One of the two men took the challenge and competed for the presidency. His effort almost paid off but the founding president of the republic went on to win by three votes and the challenger’s camp refused to accept the verdict even after the Supreme Court verified the result. From here on expediency became the guiding principle of the opposition and the democratic government was constantly challenged by an opportunistic opposition whose only manifesto was “bring down the government so they take over.” Loyalty to the nation and the constitution and accountable government that served the public was not their priority. Such modus operandi was essentially at odds with Islamic principles and democratic traditions of liberation and Somali culture, and it set a noxious political precedent for the country. Henceforth, most parliamentarians used their posts as a personal instrument for accumulating wealth and gaining favors rather than serving their constituencies and the country. It is this odious behavior that attracted Somalia’s poet laureate’s incisive:

 

"Members of parliament when we assembled them in one place,          

Presidents and ministers when they were elected,

Healthy minds and people we were facing the same direction,             

Then came those who confused us only to milk everything for their sole benefit,

Never to lose an electoral seat whose only intention it was,             

In our rural areas they put a knife in every hand,

Those hacks who bombarded us with fake wailings of sectarian solidarity,

The poison they injected in us killed nobility of character,

Lies and lies they festoon us with, Beware."(Timacade, 1968)

 

Such sectarian behavior desecrated all three meanings of faith and subsequently de-railed Somali democracy and the rule of law. This induced a gradual erosion of the common values Somalis share. Prior to the change of administration in 1967 government leaders were deeply committed to the spirit and the word of the constitution, as the most critical Somali journalist of the time, Dhuxul, admitted. But the regime that came to power in 1967 turned things inside out. Thereafter, shame became an accolade while faithfulness was considered the hallmark of idiocy.

 

Dictatorships of Mistrust

 

Just about when the population was on the verge of despair the national army intervened and removed the regime from power with outpouring endorsement from the population. The military’s honeymoon lasted for several years when a number of popular programs, such as the script for the Somali language, literacy campaigns, establishment of the national university, and investments in infrastructure were undertaken.  While the regime enjoyed popular legitimacy during this period its governance paradigm was shifting quietly in troubling ways. True to its nature the military regime slowly destroyed the public service establishment’s professional autonomy by first putting military officers at the head of every institution and then summarily appointing loyalists to posts for which they did not have qualifications. Fear rather than respect replaced the relationship between military political appointees and the professional cadre. Second, by the mid-1970s, recruitment and promotion in the military took on a distinctly tribalist turn in ways never witnessed before in Somali public service. In addition, in sharp contrast to the democratic constitution, the military sidestepped the Sharia and secularized family law. Once this was announced on the national radio it generated heated discussions about the religious character of the military leaders. This reinforced the suspicion many Somalis had about “Godless communism.” Thereafter, a number of major religious imams began to preach in Mogadishu’s mosques and challenged the regime’s authority to change such an elemental law. Conscious of the explosive potential of the challenge the military rounded up ten imams and took them to a hastily arranged national security court which sentenced them to death. The sentence was carried out immediately and this broke the most cherished feature of post-colonial Somali politics: open political debate without state coercion and violence.

 

Such a sectarian use of public power and the murder of these religious leaders quickly shattered whatever little integrity the system had and the citizenry’s faith in the regime and collective projects.  Having lost the popular mandate the regime turned to every un-Islamic and un-Somali tool to prolong its hold on power and mayhem reined for another 15 years. Faithless rule led to the destruction of Hargeisa and Burao, and slowly ate away at the nation’s shared values alienating communities from one another.  Similarly, the political and military opposition adopted the regime’s tactics of dividing the nation into genealogical groups and thus substantially contributed to the devaluation of common belonging. For 12 long years these two actors bereft of faith in any sense of the word dominated the landscape and created conditions uncongenial to good governance, healthy communities, and the promise of better Somalia.

 

Gargoylia

 

Any sense of imaan vanished from the ethos of those competing for public power as the nation descended into an abyss. Civic-minded and faithful Somalis kept a low profile and failed to mobilize the population. By the time the fascist dictator was chased out of the capital warlords and sectarian political entrepreneurs carved the county into fiefdoms and the faithful spirit seemed comatose. Bloodletting in Mogadishu in 1991 and the killing fields of the Bay region in the early 1991-2 with warlords using food as a weapon against hapless people was the ultimate verdict of a faithless power. The UN and the United States came to the assistance of the starving population, cleared the roads and fed the indigent. Unfortunately, the humanitarian effort was not matched by a serious political effort to help the population rebuild their state institutions. Bad advice marooned on archaic world view wasted this fleeting opportunity and misdirected the effort which led to the withdrawal of the forces.  The precipitous decay mushroomed into warlord and sectarian rule and the so-called international community tap-danced with these monstrosities. Somali peoples’ ordeal failed to attract sympathetic attention from powerful states, but the possibility of three criminals hiding in Somalia was sufficient enough for the world superpower to provide more resources to warlords and charge them to hunt down these elements and the religious people in Mogadishu who were accused of giving these folks refuge. Tested by their prolonged agony the population rallied around religious leaders and within three months the warlords were routed and Mogadishu was at peace for the first time in seventeen years. The Union of the Islamic Courts was formed and soon much of South-Central Somalia became liberated.

 

Hope of Imaan’s Return

 

What made such a speedy success possible? Loyalty to the Faith was the central piston of the emerging energy. Sentiments in the old capital were mobilized when the population realized that the warlords and their financial backers who had no sympathy for their plight were now willing to wipe them out in order to capture three alleged terrorists. The confluence of these sentiments and the feeling of common destiny anchored on their belief were reminiscent of 1949 when the world sided with the return of the Italian fascists and SYL led the charge to confront this challenge. Faithful bonds can overcome towering menaces and so did the people’s revolt in 1949 and 2006.

 

The UICs led the way and restored peace to the capital. Inspired by Islam the movement spread quickly and much of south-central Somalia came under their sway. Even the renegade regions of the north and northeast felt the heat which quickly led to their leaders declaring that they would adopt the Sharia as the law of the land.  These swift successes concealed systematic weakness of the UICs and their incoherence in managing the regions that were under their control. First, the Courts’ incoherence was a product of the recency of their founding as well as their quick rise to power. They had to organize their assembly and the executive committee after the movement’s success became apparent. This meant that they did not have an organized institutional infrastructure in place. Second, although they established an executive organ, the line of command, particularly in military affairs, was not clear and this led to some un-strategic campaigns. Third, the UIC leadership and assembly lacked diplomatic and political experience to understand the dangers of a world dominated by the war on terror mentality and the group failed to heed advice that might have mollified those risks. Fourth, given the absence of tight organizational discipline much time was devoted to endless meetings which were partly used to build cohesion among the group’s diverse membership. Inevitability this meant that relatively minor issues and details took center-stage and precious time was lost. Finally, the UICs lack of coherent and workable governance strategy beyond the call for the use of the Sharia as the basic law of the land added to their incapacity and meant that no other administrative competence existed. Additionally, there was no negotiating plan to bring on-board skeptical but sympathetic Somalis, and to seriously engage a hostile international community, the TFG, or others. This created opportunities for the enemies of the movement to demonize the UICs which provided a political cover for the invaders.  Despite all of these weaknesses, the spirit of Muslinimo and     Somalinimo prevailed for six wonderful months and boosted the confidence of the Somali people that they can restore peace to their land and begin governing themselves with dignity.

 

Struggling for Freedom & Faith

 

Unfortunately, a ferociously hostile international climate and a determined Ethiopian enemy took advantage of the incapacity of the UICs and de-railed the movement. Many commentators wrote off the UICs and the nationalist movement as the Ethiopian military committed heinous crimes against the population and destroyed life-sustaining systems the people have established during the previous 15 years. Over 20,000 people have been killed and 1.5 million have been displaced. The latter group and others face famine conditions as we speak which might exceed the human toll of the early 1990s.

 

Despite the war crimes the Ethiopian invaders committed tough minded young Somalis rose to the occasion and mounted a fierce nationalist resistance that has defied the agenda of the invaders and their international backers. Consequently, the inept TFG which was holed in Baidoa and a neighborhood in Mogadishu guarded by Ethiopian and AU forces seem irrelevant, while Ethiopia tries to put the best face on its defeat by claiming to be withdrawing “victoriously.”[ii] What these developments make clear is that cruelties of an invading force can never hold free people in bondage without paying a heavy price, and that the invasion is not sustainable or can never bolster an illegitimate regime.

 

Somalia’s freedom fighters have energized the population inside and outside the country and their sacrifices have created whatever possibility that exists for negotiated peace and genuine reconciliation. To them we owe a debt that cannot be repaid. Harnessing the opportunity and the opening created has been the responsibility of the leadership of the so-called Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS). Although this outfit was supposed to be an alliance between the UICs, a handful of former members of the TFI parliament, and the so-called Diaspora, the UICs was the core unit despite the pretensions of others. Unfortunately, the ARS or the UICs failed to develop a political strategy for re-liberation that honored and supported the resistance operations in the country. Moreover, the organizational incapacity of the UICs was compounded by the ineptitude of the so-called parliamentarians and collectively they botched the effort. Having low capacity is not a crime in of itself and one must honor genuine effort that does not succeed due to incapacity, but this is not the only thing that bedeviled the alliance. It has been apparent from the day the ARS was established that most of the so-called parliamentarians were lusting for a way to parachute back to the TFG and that their senior leaders were driven by the repulsive tribal formula.  In addition, they neither had the commitment nor the capacity to engage in tough minded chess with hostile international forces. They thought that nice platitudes in the airwaves and weak backbones against the pressure of the hostile forces were the perfect strategy to deliver them to power and introduce false peace and reconciliation. What has become clear in the last few months is that the ARS leadership has been less than candid and less than strategic, and may have engaged in activities and behavior that are fraudulent. Such conduct and deeds are best illustrated by concrete examples. First, when the ARS leadership initiated its moves and went to Khartoum and Nairobi in March and April 2008, troubling signs appeared which indicated their reluctance to consult with key members, including the executive committee, by unilaterally signing agreements. When they were called on this breach of trust, they skipped town and moved to Djibouti, and began a unilateral project of dealing with the TFG under the supervision of a devious UN outfit. Simultaneously, they accused Eritrea of instrumentally using the resistance for its own ends.[iii] Despite the goodwill efforts of members to resolve the problem and restore confidence, the leadership ignored this work and this resulted in the split of the group. Further attempts failed to bear fruit and the “negotiation” in Djibouti moved forward. Second, despite the support of the people of Djibouti, the ARS wing in Djibouti fell apart as a cohesive unit since its two leaders unilaterally decided whatever the position of ARS was going to be in the negotiation. In addition, incompetency marred the operations and management of the process as the entire affair lacked planning and deliberation. For example, there was an ARS delegation that came to visit UN headquarters, but no preparation was made for them to partake in the discussions and the delegation sat as observers rather than participants in the Security Council chambers amply demonstrating the organization’s ineptitude. Third, another manifestation of the drift from the straight path was clear when the “negotiation” reached a point when joint committees composed of the TFG and ARS were to be formed. One such committee was to consist of seven members from the TFG and seven from ARS, but the head of the ARS Council asked the executive that he be allowed to add six extra members of his choosing to the committee. He added that he will make the request to the UN representative. This was allowed and the rest is history. Fourth, the final act of the negotiation was the agreement which stipulated that 275 new ARS representative will be added to the TFG parliament. This was not only offensive to the Somali people, but also demonstrated the absence of coherence as the former parliamentary chief told the rest that he will “select 30% of the new MPs while the Hawiye tribe” can share the remainder.” Fifth and most recently, the head of the Djibouti wing has been meeting with tribal groups in Mogadishu to try and work out a political deal, thus reneging on the UICs original motto of avoiding tribal politics. This particular affair is more bizarre as he is replicating the very process that he and his comrades rejected when Ali Mahdi Mohamed tried the same shame in 2007. Lastly, the ARS Djibouti wing has finally exposed its true colors by accepting the foul 4.5 formula as the basis of re-establishing Somali national institutions which makes the ARS political agenda identical to those of the TFG. In the end, the leaders of the Djibouti wing have effectively traded the original faith-based agenda for their political ambitions by breaching the ARS charter as well as the anchor values of the UICs. In other words, they do not seem to cherish any principles and agreements but subscribe to political expediency and as such endorse faithless politics of the past – Leadership without imaan and thus no amaano!  Then, one must ask the tough questions: was the population uprooted on a 4.5 basis? or did those who sacrificed their lives for the liberation do so on 4.5 basis? If deception had moral persuasion the old politicians would still be reigning.

 

In addition to these diversions from the straight path of imaan, some elements of the “Youth” and a few members of the Courts have confused their personal obligations to the Creator to mean that they and they alone have the wisdom and the authority to interpret the tenets of the faith and demand that all others must live by these interpretations or must be eliminated. In other words, their personal interpretation is deemed more sacred than the generous ways of Islam. Both of these elements have forgotten the last words of our Prophet (SCW) “Al yowma atmumtu …” Second, they turn Islam into the most rigid and authoritarian enterprise when it is exactly the converse. Third, they fail to realize that physical coercion can never make a person faithful and that teaching, nurturing, and engaging people are the most effective ways to convince Somalis to live by the spirit and word of the faith. If coercion was sustainable and effective, the old dictatorship and warlord gargoyles would still be dominant. Such a strategy has no future and will vanquish a meaningful life for our people and their Islamic faith.  

 

 

**Faithful Politics: an Alternative Future**

 

 Neither the machinations of ARS/TFG as we know them now nor a sectarian, authoritarian, and perverted Islamicist rule will create the social and political climate required to restore imaan and rebuild the faithfully legitimate institutions our country and people so desperately need. What might be a formula that can be built on our faith, our democratic traditions, and the spirit of the resistance?  In the first instance, it is highly likely that a regime founded on odious 4.5 formula as the TFG or an extended version of this ala the Djibouti agreement will deliver a stillbirth. This is not an option for the Somali people who have just defeated the Ethiopian occupation and thwarted the so-called international community’s malicious intent to impose incompetent and tribal-based political dispensation. I remember quite well when some civic Somalis called upon the international community not to sanction the Ethiopian agenda of a warlord/tribal government for Somalia. Their response was that the warlords were the necessary evil that was needed to restore peace. They added that Abdullahi Yusuf was the tough guy that must be the head of state, and his obstinate character would be enough to ensure that the Ethiopian regime will not have its way. Some people warned them about the fallacy of their assumptions but their insistence demonstrated that they were either inept to understand what they were saying or had malicious intent of imposing a warlord outfit beholden to Ethiopia on the Somali people or both. It is ironic that the same folks have been clamoring to condemn Abdullahi Yusuf as the main obstacle to peace and the invader’s departure as creating a security vacuum- vacuum for the millions of people they displaced! Other obstacles include the 4.5 formula, leadership handpicked by Ethiopia or others, the occupation, other mindless sectarians, and disorganized civics and people of faith.

 

From faithless Power to Faithful Authority

 

Since 1967 nearly all regimes and their leaders have been marred by the absence of faith and the dearth of counter-balancing institutions that could provide a sense of national orientation. Advocates of the tribalist thesis of Somali politics maintain that one of two scenarios can provide the basis of political stability in the country. First, they allege that a political regime based on the 4.5 formula will solve the problem of representation among Somalia’s “competing” clans. Second, they posit that a combination of 4.5 and a national assembly consisting of two houses, with one chamber dedicated to traditional “leaders,” will secure the tribal balance. We have detailed elsewhere the fairy tale of the tribalist thesis and why such propositions cannot and will not usher a new era of faithful government and justice.

 

Thus, we propose that ideas based on Islam and civic identity will and can provide an alternative moral framework for a desirable future. Such grounding will not transpire by amalgamating the resistance with a defunct TFG, characterized by faithless power, as that will degrade the valor of the former and consequently undermine the long term sustainability of the new project. Instead elements of the UICs and other sensible resistance groups must call for a national conference inside the country that will last for a month and that shall produce a blue print for the road ahead. We think one of the principle tasks of this conference should be to draw up the mandate of two parallel, non-competing, and counter-balancing institutions for the country. These will consist of a moral authority (MA) and a political authority (PA).  A detailed presentation of the roles, responsibilities, and the operations of the two authorities will have to wait for another time, but this brief note should suffice as an introduction.  

 

MA will have four functions. First, it will be responsible for ensuring that Islamic and Somali cultural education are carried out across the country and it also will monitor the new government’s education program to make certain that this is done. Second, it will establish three major centers of Islamic and cultural learning in the country. Such centers will provide for a generous interpretation of Islam and our traditions and shall not be dominated by any sectarian ideological interpretations of the faith. Third and most critically, it will create another three regional centers where communal conflagrations are resolved fairly and justly so that such conflicts are not transformed into political mêlée.  In addition, these centers will become platforms for communal cooperation. Fourth, MA will be a non-partisan national anchor for providing direction when and if PA diverges from the spirit and word of the constitution or if it becomes dysfunctional or collapses. Finally, the authority’s annual report will address the moral state of the nation, the country’s civic challenges, as well as an assessment of the government’s performance of its basic duties. The report will be circulated through the airwaves as well as community centers around the country.

 

Given the centrality of the moral authority for the nation’s collective wellbeing and its non-partisan nature it is vital that those who will serve as leaders and members of the MA have exceptional credibility, unblemished record of faithful / civic life, and would have superb training in Islam and Somali cultural Studies. Such members must not have served and shall not serve in political or sectarian organizations.  The authority will have 11 members appointed for a period of seven years and will conduct their affairs on consensual basis. An independently managed endowment will be established to provide the necessary resources for the operations of the authority, and MA will have a weekly radio and TV program that will discuss major concerns of the country in order to educate the public. An independent board of trustees will be created whose only job is to vet, appoint, and dismiss members. The Board of Trustees will have a reserve list of at least 11 people at all times.  

 

The MA will not have legislative and coercive power, but will use education and moral persuasion. MA will have access to private and state media and shall have the authority to mobilize the population against injustice and bad governance, and for a faithful and progressive change. Such an ethical establishment is intended to demonstrate to the population the importance of high Islamic/ethical/Somali standards of public and communal life. Thus, MA will not have the authority to dismiss governments but can inform the population of its good and ill deeds and how might the problems be tackled.  

 

Likewise, the political authority will consist of political parties and government (local, regional and national). To ensure that the country is not re-victimized by sectarian political parties and entrepreneurs, there can only be two national political parties. Each party will be required to have a national base through its membership. Neither party nor its leadership will be allowed to use Islam or tribal belonging as the basis of its membership or program. Second, the two parties will be monitored by national inspectorate associated with MA that will use the highest ethical and moral standards. Any party found to engage in unethical practices will be held responsible and the public will be informed about such practice.  More details are forthcoming.

 

Deliberately separating the role and responsibilities of the MA and PA is vital and is meant to warrant that the population’s principal shared values –Islam & culture- are not used by political and sectarian entrepreneurs of any hue for nefarious ends. Further, it will affirm that the nation’s institutional apparatus will maximize the use of and valorize the value of such assets. Simply put, it is not Somali faith or culture that has caused the catastrophe but the detachment of public power from such moral moorings. Re-fusing those principles as institutional anchors of public affairs will enhance stability and restore justice to the land. Put bluntly, regimes and aspirant political actors will never again be allowed to soil Somali faith and culture by deploying sycophants to try to legitimate their ill-deeds or ambitions.  

 

Finally, the need for such institutionalization of faith and culture is paramount as it creates an independent authority that is not driven by the lust for political power but one motivated by the nation’s collective wellbeing. I would venture that if the country had a legitimate moral authority when the crisis of governance began the people would have had a trusted authority to turn to for guidance. Such an authority would have had the credibility to call on the people to maintain the peace and order until a legitimate political authority was restored. Further, and more importantly Somalis would have been sufficiently informed and educated about developments such that they would have stopped the abusive regimes long before the catastrophe.  Only through such or similar ways of returning to faithful authority would our country emerge from the calamity of faithless power.    



[i] Somali Republic (1961), The Constitution of the Somali Republic (Mogadishu: 11&16).

[ii] Although Ethiopia claims to be withdrawing from Somalia, it is unlikely to change its interventionist policy by providing support for its former and new Somali clients.  

[iii] I was shocked to hear this on the airwaves as I heard nothing like this when I asked them a question about this matter in Asmara. All I heard from them was awe and respect for the government and the people of Eritrea. There is no mistake that Eritrea has an interest in seeing Ethiopia’s defeat on Somalia, beyond that these leaders should have dealt with the matter strategically rather than locking themselves and the movement into a tight corner.