By Mohamed Abdiqafar Haji Hussein
The President of Somalia Mohamed A. Farmaajo’s plan to extend his rule and also win the hearts of Somali youth by any means necessary is working. There is a plethora of evidence that shows this to be the case. His initial goal, of installing members of his team in all key positions of the federal system that included the speaker of the federal parliament and the heads of three regional states ( South West, Galmudug and Hirshabeelle) with members of his executive team, was achieved without any significant protests, while his attempt in Puntland and Jubaland didn’t materialize.
President Farmaajo was all along preaching for – One person one vote- nevertheless, the writing was on the wall, as it was obvious to Somali people at large and the presidential candidates that no “one person, one vote” election could take place in Somalia, but President Farmaajo insisted that such a plan was feasible until he finally admitted that it was impossible, just six months before the end of his term. However, the presidential candidates supposed they would not allow President Farmaajo to extend his rule by even one hour after his term. Yet he has managed to stay in office for ten months so far, and remains in office with no much challenge.
Today President Farmaajo still functions as Somalia’s legitimate president, still travels to overseas on presidential duties and appoints people to positions within the government. Business continues as usual in Villa Somalia, despite the presidential candidates claiming that the prime minister is now in charge.
When Farmaajo extended his term for two more years, with no agreement on the election process, political analysts thought it was a political suicide and the end of his presidency. But Faramaajo outsmarted the political oppositions by convincing them that he would authorize Somalia’s Prime Minister Mr. Roble to manage the election process and its security. The prime minister, that the presidential candidates thought could ensure free and fair election, is now believed to be an ally with Farmaajo. The PM has visited Qatar recently and was rumored to have been told to accept a sum of money in exchange for his support of the president.
Not only has the president already prolonged his term by almost half of the two years he wanted; he is also winning the hearts of Somali youth as the only president who can lead Somalia to its proud days. For instances, when a presidential candidate posts an opinion on social media, he is almost sure to receive over 1,000 responses, sometimes within hours, all in support of Farmaajo, arguing that oppositions cannot be trusted accusing them as agents of foreigners!.
That is why there was no protest against Farmaajo’s term extension, even when presidential candidates were shot with live ammunitions while demonstrating on the streets of Mogadishu, or even when innocent youth were killed in the street by government forces. The president’s social media propaganda team responded by saying that such incidents can happen anywhere, and arguing President Farmaajo to continue protecting the country from within.
Most of the youth who support President Faramaajo, from Hargeysa to Kismayo, get their information from social media. They support him because they believe or see him of his fight against foreigners and corruption, and support of Somali arms. At the same time, they see all the other candidates as corrupt individuals whose only intention is to enrich themselves.
Although President Farmaajo seems to have the upper hand for the time being, the presidential candidates are trying hard to prevent him from re-electing himself. So far, their actions have not produced no meaningful results.
Whenever it becomes evident that President Farmaajo is not doing what was agreed, the presidential candidates rush to hold a press conference. They reiterate their position of not accepting what is going on. They do not present an alternative plan. The presidential candidates also keep presenting opportunities to the prime minister, as someone who will represent the government in their share of representation of 4.5. They forget that the president nominated the prime minister. He had no prior government experience and is the only one who can be loyal to him, and remains so.
In addition, the presidential candidates ignored the social media propaganda presenting them as traitors and President Farmaajo as a savior. They could instead show the Somali youth on social media that the strategy President Farmaajo is using is the same as that of former President Siyad Barre. Mr. Bare was able to rule Somalia for 21 years, which resulted in the current problems. Mr. Bare’s policy was to create external enemies, such as foreigners, in order to unite the Somali people behind the government to ensure their independence, and also to blame all problems on previous governments.
The presidential council of which the candidates are all members has no long-term strategy, and each presidential candidate looks after himself when the election process starts. Yet they still come together to hold press conferences after their meetings, to state that they will not accept the process if it continues on its present course. None of the presidential candidates’ actions so far has produced any meaningful action.
The question is: what is the solution now? The presidential candidates cannot continue doing the same thing and expecting a different result. They should devise a plan to save the country from returning to the destruction caused by 21 years of dictatorial rule.
Their plan must include a long-term strategy and compromise for the sake of the Somali people, and good governance, where every Somali adult is able to participate in an election based on the principle of “one person, one vote”.
First, the presidential candidates must form a council to represent all the Somali people, to counter with this government team on their political differences. It is known that this government opposes federalism. The presidential candidates should counter that by explaining to the Somali people why federal system is the best system for Somalia.
The council should rally behind one candidate for future president. With the help of all other candidates, they ensure the completion of the constitution, the creation of an independent judicial team, and will prepare the country for “one person, one vote”.
All of the other candidates should devote their candidacy to promoting good governance at the next election. Four years is a short time, but if all those candidates work toward creating a stable government, then “one person, one vote” is feasible by the time the next election is held.
Second, the presidential candidates should not let President Farmaajo change the issue from a central vs. federal system to propaganda against them as traitors and bad government of which they were a part.The presidential candidates should highlight President Farmaajo’s performance over the last four years, which will make any previous president look like a star. It should be explained to Somali youth why President Farmaajo wants us to look at Ethiopians as our friends while Kenyans are our number one enemy.
The presidential candidates should also point out that the Somali people are in this condition because of 21 years of dictatorial rule. That was based on a “divide and rule” strategy — the same strategy now employed by President Farmaajo.
Only then will it be possible for this new council, representing all Somali people and having built into it much compromise among all presidential candidates, to compete with President Faramaajo and his team.
Only then will the Somali people have the choice of electing a team committed to saving Somalia from its current conditions, with the promise of a better future which all the candidates will participate in creating. Otherwise, we may expect President Farmaajo and his team to be re-elected for another four years.
Mohamed Abdiqafar Haji Hussein
Email: [email protected]
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