Friday, June 09, 2023
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Farmaajo as ceauşescu and his (hopefully last or final) failed coup attempt- Part I

Dr. Aweys Omar Mohamoud

A Somali saying has it ‘the truth can’t catch up with a lie that did a runner’ (Been fakatay run ma gaarto). Another version says the opposite: ‘the truth catchs up with a lie that ran away’ (Been fakatay, run baa ka daba tagta)! Both can be correct depending on the context, especially in a world of a deeply wounded and divided people.

PM Roble

The truth (or rather, a version of it) caught up with Farmaajo on Monday 27 December 2021 when, according to the Prime Minister, the ex-president deployed troops that were meant to strike at the organizational heart of the FGS represented by the PM’s office and residence to take power through a coup d’état. The coup plot was foiled at the last minute when the PM received the support of the army and police chiefs.

While Farmaajo had already concentrated ever more power in his hands, the execution of his attempted coup on Monday was an utter failure. We may never know why and what happened, but one thing is clear: when confronted with the increasingly empowered young population, the growth of independent social media and freedom of information via the internet, as well as civic institutions in Mogadishu and across the country — all of which the dictatorship is unable to control — Farmaajo found that his whole venture was unravelling.

It was suggested that Farmaajo was unshakable. That he had captured the souls of the people and moulded their thinking especially those around him, including the PM and others. That he had cast a spell on them. But there never was a spell. There was fear, and when it evaporated the entire edifice collapsed. Fear must be central to our intuitive understanding of a dictatorship. It was central to Siyaad Barre’s fully fledged dictatorship that dominated our country in the height of the twentieth century.

Fear is always central to all dictatorships because dictators back up their rule with the threat of force and violence. In the case of Ceauşescu, the moment he faltered when challenged by demonstrators in front of the party headquarters on 21 December 1989 can be pinned down almost to the minute. For Romanians, that moment took several decades to arrive. For us, Somalis, ‘a race of fierce Republicans’1 and having learnt our lesson from our previous dictator Siyaad Barre, it took us 10 months and 20 days (after Farmaaja’s term ended) to overcome his dictatorship by the words of Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble on Monday, 27 December 2021. I’m providing a full verbatim transcription of the PM’s statement underneath. 

Freedom of speech is the defining distinction between democracy and its enemy, dictatorship. Words are singularly the most powerful force available to any group of people resisting a dictatorship, more powerful than bullets or bazookas. That is why dictators have little or no toleration for words that are contrary to their political worldview, and that is why control of the flow of information is the tool of the dictatorship. There is no cult without fear. As Ceauşescu faltered when challenged by demonstrators, Mohamed Abdullaahi Farmaaja’s cult of personality (which, I have a hint, is as big as that of Ceauşescu) must have evaporated the moment his Prime Minister uttered these words:

“Peace and Allah’s blessings be upon the Somali people wherever they may be … Brothers & sisters, I want to share with you [the fact] that the steps taken by the former President Mohamed Abdullaahi Farmaajo is tantamount to a coup d’etat against the government, the Constitution and the laws of our country. In addition to violating the laws and the Constitution, Farmaajo has this morning launched an armed assault on the Office of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet with the intention of preventing us from carrying out our Constitutional duties. The aim of these unconstitutional and unlawful steps he has taken is to derail the ongoing elections so that he could extend his illegal stay in office, in a way similar to his failed attempt (at extension) in April which would have destroyed the country. Therefore, as is clear from his illegal actions, because the former President has taken it upon himself  to destroy the institutions of the government, I want to make it known to the Somali people that the Federal Government of Somalia, with the intention of carrying out its Constitutional duties especially in this period of transition, is wholly responsible and constitutionally bound to lead and execute all the duties and functions of the state. For this reason, I am ordering all members of the armed forces to take direct instructions from the FGS through the Office of the Prime Minister. Anyone who disobeys this instruction will be swiftly held to account under the laws of our country, Insha Allah.

As we all know, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo is a candidate [for President]. He is no different to all the other candidates who are vying for this office. I am therefore making it known to him the following: ‘You [Mr Farmaajo] are a candidate. Therefore, stand aside, like all the other candidates, and campaign for the position’. Therefore, no members of the armed forces should take orders from him. And because he wants to use the powers of the state and its institutions to advance his candidacy and, should he not achieve his aims, he wants to destroy the state [with a mindset that says] either I rig (the elections) or abort them, he cannot give orders to any members of the armed forces. ‘Hey Somalis, wisdom must prevail’. ‘Either, you do what I want for myself or I shall destroy the country’ won’t work. I shall, once more, affirm to the Somali people that I shall continue with my decision to ensure that a fair election that produces a peaceful transfer of power takes place in this country so that our country shall be saved from the political crisis that was brought about by [the actions and decisions of] the former President.

Persnally, I shall [once again] declare before you that I will not [repeat, not] tolerate that the country’s elections are rigged, robbed, stolen, or [the process is] used for the interests of a particular candidate. This is an election, not an appointment. It is illegal that some people are excluded from the elections [on the basis] that particular seats are reserved for particular individuals with their names written on it. The parliamentary seats are to be won on the basis of elections, not appointments. And I am not prepared, as I promised before, that the Somali people’s rights are violated or [their laws] transgressed against in my name or that [someone illegally] takes advantage of them under my watch. For this reason, I shall once more make it known to the Somali people that this shall be a free and fair election. I’m instructing all election committees in all areas to, as quickly as possible, discharge their duties in a manner that is fair to everyone and that the elections themselves are fair. Any committee or a member of it that is found to be transgressing against the rules, either because they’re rooting for a particular candidate, or are conducting an unfair election; [they’ll face the consequences] and it won’t be accepted from them. That is what I stand for and for which all of us have taken an oath to defend in the interest of the Somali people.

As you, all Somali people, will be aware, the National Consultative Council’s (NCC) meeting is going to take place as planned, and the FMS leaders are on their way to attend as we all agreed. All forms of logistics and aircraft have been prepared for them and they’re on their way to attend and, when they arrive, the conference will open. The purpose of the meeting is to speed up the implementation of the elections, and to firm up its processes in order to bring about the swift completion of a fair electoral process. Therefore, I say to all of you, the Somali people, and to all candidates that you place your trust in this election process. The process [of our government] is a baton being passed by one person to the next. We won’t allow one person to have the baton to themslves and running with it alone, for all time. Let our watchword today be ‘yes to elections, and ‘no to coups and illegal takeovers of our government”.

Stay tuned for Part II of Farmaajo as Ceauşescu.

Dr. Aweys Omar Mohamoud
For more info visit : Dr. Aweys’ Presidential Bid for 2021

1. See Hanley, Gerald (1993) Warrriors: Life and Death Among the Somalis, London: Eland.

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