6/21/2024
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Somalia in Limbo
Hon. Dr. Ali Said Faqi
Wednesday April 24, 2024

 

During the start of his second term, President Hassan Sheikh took on significant endeavors, one of which involved combating the terrorist organization al-Shabab. This led him to personally lead the campaign in the central region of Somalia, specifically in the state of Galmudug. Additionally, he made numerous trips abroad to ensure the country received the necessary support. Moreover, he successfully applied for membership in the East African Community (EAC).

However, it was evident to everyone that in his second term, the President was determined to maintain full control and authority. This was evident in his selection of the Prime Minister, a humble and grounded individual, albeit lacking leadership experience. The President chose this person because he wanted to avoid any conflicts with his Prime Minister, having encountered issues with previous ones during his first term. Over the course of the four years, the President had removed two Prime Ministers from office and finished with a strained relationship with his third one, and he still vividly recalls the difficulties and pain associated with those conflicts. This time, the President made a promise to himself that he would not repeat the same mistakes, leading him to wisely choose a loyal student as his Prime Minister.  
However, after two years in office, the fight against terrorism is not going according to plan, and the economy is in a desperate state. On top of that, the country is facing a constitutional dispute caused by a self-serving approach, which is hindering any potential progress. Personally, I supported the idea of amending the constitution to hold a one person one vote elections. However, I strongly believed that this process should have been carried out in a way that gained widespread support. It was entirely possible to achieve this goal. The president simply needed to engage in a more inclusive consultation and work towards establishing a political system that would have broader backing.
The President's speeches commonly known as “Friday speeches” at the mosque revealed his intentions for the constitutional amendment. Several of his initial addresses revealed intricate plans by the president to independently forge ahead with the constitutional amendment, instilling a sense of fear and generating widespread resistance.
As a parliamentarian with two years of active involvement, I am faced with significant challenges in comprehending the direction the parliament has taken.  The parliamentarians have failed to rectify the misguided path chosen by its leaders since the start of this term.  Within the lower house, we have 275 parliamentarians, yet there is no common principle that guides them. It feels as though everyone operates as a single party, with diverse self-interests. In an environment like this, it is hard to achieve progress.  For the past months, various parliamentary caucuses were announced in Mogadishu. These caucuses, however, tend to have brief lifespans primarily because they lack a clear political platform to rally behind. While these groups may initially appear to share a common agenda, it is often overshadowed by the pursuit of individual interests, resulting in a complete absence of achievements. Every time they reach consensus, the very next days each one of them veers off in a different direction. Unfortunately, all endeavors undertaken by the parliamentarians to reverse the misguided course set by the speaker have proven fruitless.
Prior to the start of the constitutional debate, the initial proceedings took a regrettable turn due to the disregard for parliamentary rules and procedures.  However, this lack of adherence to parliamentary rules and procedures has persisted without any attempts to correct it.  Additionally, members of parliament have raised concerns about the haste with which these amendments are being pushed through.  Their minds were filled with magnitude of question: Why not make it more transparent and inclusive? Why not give stakeholders ample time to provide their input? What's the harm in including Puntland state in the process? And why not address the concerns of those who believe it's a murky process? What's the harm in taking the time to get it right? What's wrong with considering all these factors?
The disagreement on the constitutional amendments could have been prevented had the speaker taken a more responsible approach by demonstrating strong leadership to foster unity within the country. Unfortunately, the speaker aligned himself with the president, resulting in the exacerbation of political tensions. It feels like a never-ending cycle, reminiscent of past experiences.  
True to his words, the President meticulously oversaw every aspect of the constitutional amendment, ensuring its approval by the assembly. His hands-on approach and unwavering determination led to the outcome that he desired.
Initially, the president was campaigning to consolidate his power by running as a strong president with a vice president on a joint ticket. However, he ultimately reached a mutual understanding in which the president has the authority to appoint and dismiss the Prime Minister.  
In this instance, the president has initiated the political conflict, making it challenging to envision a resolution. I find myself pondering the advantages the president hopes to gain from a constitutional process that lacks inclusivity. Considering Puntland state's decision to distance itself from the federal government, and with stakeholders, including former politicians, opposing the self-designed constitutional changes approved by the legislature, a crucial question arises: Can the president push this agenda forward? The answer is a resounding No. Our federal system hinges on the participation of all federal member states, and if they are not in agreement, there is simply no possibility of implementing these changes.
In anyway, it is hard to predict what comes next in the Somali politics for several obvious reasons:  Firstly, one must realize that the core of all arguments and debates revolves predominantly around personal interests, rather than the well-being of the nation. Secondly, instead of actively seeking peaceful resolutions to the challenges we face, politicians often choose to exacerbate conflicts, further deepening the divide. A seemingly straight forward problem, which can be tackled within a matter of days may take months before finding a resolution. Thirdly, the narratives never change; it's always the same old story, just with different players. Every four years, we witness the repetition of the same tired narrative and the same failed policies unfolding before our eyes. The repeated recycling of previous failed strategies has eroded the trust and confidence of the Somali people. Fourthly, it is not uncommon to witness the phenomenon of friends becoming enemies and enemies becoming friends. The shifting alliance among politicians creates confusion as individuals who were once close allies suddenly find themselves on opposite sides of the political spectrum, while former adversaries forge unexpected partnerships. It is based on the notion that the adversary of my adversary is my comrade.
Mr. President, it's natural that those close to you won’t give you the best advice as they fear being seen as critical to your policies.  However, the views of the politicians and the public at large are that the country is in a state of limbo. A courageous leader can truly make a difference, if he doesn't succumb to his ego and isolate himself. It's time to shake things up. I genuinely want you to succeed.
To win the war against Al-Shabab, addressing foreign meddling, and resolving internal conflicts and with Puntland, it's critical to involve all stakeholders and move away from the current state of isolation.  To overcome this deadlock, the president should explore alternative approaches to his current position. It is important that he engages in constructive dialogue with President Deni of Puntland, as personal pride should not hinder the progress of the nation. A mutually beneficial strategy must be pursued to thaw the icy relations. Both the country and the President cannot afford to passively wait for a miracle to occur; in the realm of politics, one must actively seek opportunities for a way out, as no one will offer a free path to victory when cornered. To navigate this delicate situation, the president should consider approaching President Laftagareen of SWS or Senator Faroole to act as a reliable mediator between himself and President Deni. However, it is important that this request is not made with mere empty promises, but with a sincere and unwavering commitment to finding a resolution. Given the erosion of trust between President Hassan and President Deni, a genuine offer from the president, facilitated by a trustworthy intermediary, holds the potential to bridge the divide and bring the two leaders together.  
With two years remaining until the next election, Mr. President, please don't let your ego become your enemy.
Moreover, for the country to move forward, it is also necessary to have a functional parliament and a functioning executive branch. Both branches are currently idle. Parliament is currently confronted with a formidable challenge as it grapples with a severe erosion of trust caused by its regrettable trajectory over the past two years. It is time for the parliamentary leadership to take the opportunity, abandon their undemocratic attitudes and give space for the legislators to exercise the democratic process. This will help restore stability and maintain the balance of power within the government. In the same vein, the executive branch must awaken from its dormant state and actively engage in resolving the pressing issues facing the country.  

Hon. Dr. Ali Said Faqi
X: @FaqiAlis


 





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