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Presidential election: Uncertain future for the incumbent

WardheerNews Editorial

The 2017 Presidential election in Somalia could stay true to the sweeping trend that the rest of the world has witnessed – the wind of anti-incumbency.  Somalia and its nascent parliament could easily reject Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud and bring about a sorely needed change in Villa Somalia.

Hassan Sheikh and Farah Abdulkadir

Change in Somalia has been coming slowly.  First, warlords were militarily neutralized and then discarded from participation in national politics, followed by the defeat of politically radical Islamists including United Islamic Courts (UIC) once led by Sharif Ahmed.  Subsequently, a new federal constitution was drafted which ushered in imperfect but progressive system of governance called federalism. In 2012, an unknown Hassan Sheikh Mahoumed was elected as the President of the new Somalia.

Both Somalis and non-Somalis welcomed Hassan Sheikh and his government and expected a lot more. To our dismay, we all witness a do-nothing Villa Somalia. Not only did the new President exhibit signs of extreme inexperience in how government works, but he lacked vision and vigor to move Somalia ahead. At times, he sounded confused about his own constitution, fought vigorously with three of his own Prime Ministers, firing two of them, and never refrained from showing tendencies of dictatorship.

In his early years in office, President Hassan wasted too much effort undermining his own administration by sabotaging the formation of federal institutions and often tried to influence outcomes to align them with his personal goals.

He collaborated in several instances with terrorist groups such as Al-Shabab while starving his own Somali National Army.  Whereas soldiers defended their country often without salary, in one instance it is documented that his government gave about $5 million to Al-Shabab militia; weapons have been allegedly sold to forces of terror.

Corruption became a mainstay in his administration so much so that the top tier official in his government are being investigated by several international groups that seek recouping waste and embezzled resources from weak states. So much badly needed resources have been embezzled while a large section of the country’s citizens are suffering from a severe drought which both his government and regional states thus far ignored.

Of all the post-Barre presidencies (those of Abdi Qasim, Abdullahi Yusuf, and Sharif Ahmed), Hassan Sheikh’s were initially offered stronger mandate and a crisp sense of unity. For a moment, Somalia’s flailing sense of statehood was discarded in favor of hope and unity.

Unfortunately, Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud and his ministers wasted that opportunity.  His attitude to turn the entire governance aspect of the Somali state into rent-seeking entity lowered the country’s sovereignty. Moreover, he subjected a once proud nation to the whims of traditionally hostile neighbors.

Inadvertently, though, he sensitized a nation that went into slumber to its fate. Many started asking the right question: do we need a new leadership? That is the question many ordinary Somalis as well as its fledgling parliament ask.

If recent developments in the country are indication, early signs of rejection of Hassan Sheikh’s government are written all over. Jubbland does not have any soft spot for him since he sabotaged its

President Abdiwali of Puntland

formation in 2014. He also stood in the way of Hirshabele to establish its own government and denied its citizens the right to exercise their freedom to design their own local government. Southwest leaders have a lot of grudges they have never resolved.

It is Orwellian that in 2016, Puntland leadership sleeps with Villa Somalia, while the parliament of Galmudug fires the man Villa Somalia implanted in Cadaado. Whereas Puntland leaders are openly stooges to Hassan Sheikh, Galmudug Parliament are in sync with the hearts and minds of the majority of Somalia’s citizens.

There is no equivalency between the support Hassan Sheikh received from Abdiweli Gas and the direction to which Puntllanders would like to take the country. As a matter of fact, they are in total opposition.

The most devastating defeat to the political future of Hassan Sheikh is already being delivered by the new, largely young (about 60% of parliamentarians are under 35 years), and diverse House of Representatives seated at the closure of the tumultuous 2016. In a week that will remain memorable to all Somalis, Somalia has seen the political vulnerability of Hassan Sheikh and his political machine aka Demjadid. All the candidates that he sponsored for Parliamentarian leadership have lost the race. The defeat of his alter-ego and political mentor, Farah Sheikh Abdulkadir, shall serve him as a test case to a bad news in store for him.

WardheerNews understands that there are about 57 Demjadid loyalists in the new Parliament. There is also the possibility that Hassan Sheikh may try to win over more votes by buying votes. He can easily exploit a divided opposition and highly individualized group of candidates.

It is therefore instructive that opposition candidates create a common platform that prioritizes the defeat of the incumbent. It is self-evident that there is a national appetite to defeat the incumbent and bring change to Villa Somalia. If that opportunity is missed, the responsibility will collectively and individually belong to those elected to parliament and individualized opposition candidates.

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See more of WardeerNews editorial archives

Related articles:
Can Somalia survive Hassan Culusow’s Return as President? By Osman Hassan
– A Rejoinder: It Ain’t Over Until Election Day? Faisal Roble
Does Hassan Sheikh deserve a second chance? By Abdelkarim A Hassan
Hassan Sheikh Mohamud: The Return of the Incumbent By Hassan Abukar
Somali Presidential Election is Rigged and Lacks Legitimacy By Ahmed Ibrahim, Ph.D

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