By Abdisalam M. Mohamud (PhD)
For many years, Somalia was under the shadow of its failed state. That gave rise to an echelon of the low of its low to occupy positions of leadership claiming to be the saviors that guide Somalia from its doldrums. Sadly, each of those claimants, some of them became its head of state, while pursuing their ulterior motives, as result of which they became the henchmen of outside forces reflecting the interests of both our neighboring states and faraway ones. In consequence, knowingly or unknowingly the lows of Somalia’s leadership compete vigorously to serve their lords who have no interest in the stability of Somalia, save its wretchedness to devour its richness.
Hence, its failure to hold on February 8, 2021, presidential elections has illuminated all the shenanigans tussle among competing states for power of influence in Somalia to put their man at helm of power, which if its past elections are in any indications are characterized as one for sale.
Thus, states that are called ‘friends of Somalia’( the likes of The African Union, European Union, IGAD, United Nations, Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, Qatar, Turkey, UAE, and USA, plus hosts of NGOs) whose apparent assertion of involvement in Somalia is to restore the Somali State, however, each champion their man to throne of Somalia in disregard to the wishes of Somalis. Somalia’s politics thus rotates, no more no less for the advancement of Somalia, but whose side the elected president falls in the sphere of the so-called ‘friends of Somalia.’
Yet, the president whose term of presidentship has ended symbolizes the ills of that politics.
No wonder, now one finds Somalia in a mess. And it is a mess that has been brought by its leader whose term has ended on 8 February, Mohamed Abdullah Farmajo, who with an eye to get re-elected, day one of his presidentship, shed his false skin of Somali nationalism to the wayside, though his pretension of Somali nationalism propelled him to be the head of the Federal Republic of Somalia from 8 February 2017 to 7 February 2021.
Although, his main campaign for his election was on Somali nationalism, which was meant to the Somalis no more outside interference in Somalia’s internal politics. In addition, he promised, at the end of his term, he will accomplish a vote for one-man one-vote for the next presidential elections; not to mention, he will end Somalia’s internal wars, and will complete the incomplete constitution of the Federal Republic of Somalia. Yet, none he has fulfilled.
However, he was successfully elected on that platform of Somali nationalism. Therefore, Farmajo got the support of large section of Somalis who sung the hit song ‘Ii gey Farmajo’ which meant take me to Farmajo. That notwithstanding, the money power of Qatar which bankrolled his appeal to the Somali nationalism bought him the votes of several deputies of the federal parliament as well. Consequently, Somalia politics was ‘qatarized.’ No surprise then, now Qatar is making rounds in Mogadishu, the Capital, to assure its dwellers it will invest heavily in Somalia in return for their support Mohamed Abdullah Farmajo for his re-election. That does not mean other states that call themselves ‘friends of Somalia’ awash with cash are leaving Qatar alone in the field. Not at all, UAE is rumored sponsoring the opponents of Farmajo.
Nonetheless, Farmajo pointed out that he will put an end to the culprit of much of the external interference in Somalia internal politics, that of Ethiopia.
Ethiopia is a country that has been deputized as the point man of the United Nations and other agencies whose concern is Somali politics, apart from Addis’s own vested interest to see Somali weak and ungoverned.
All of sudden, Farmajo had turnabout on his stand against Ethiopia. He became a buddy of Ethiopia’s rulers, and he welcomed with on open hands its new leader Abiy Ahmad. Farmajo indeed without consultations with the Federal Parliament of Somalia has signed agreements with Ethiopia that has far-reaching impact on Somalia, which will allow Ethiopia to run four of its ports.
He, Farmajo, as well negotiated talks of integration with Ethiopia and Eritrea without knowing the implications of such agreement, and moreover, without any substantial discussion with in Somalia on such agreement. Even so, the drawback of the ‘Question of Integration’ is what brought United Kingdom out of European Union, a country that effectively had control of its borders, while Somalia does not even control some areas in Mogadishu, let alone its borders. But Farmajo saw in his vision for his re-election in the interest of Ethiopian policy of integration, which in turn is the expansion of its influence in Africa. He thus garnered Ethiopian support for his regime.
No wonder, Addis Ababa made known its choice of Farmajo among the other regional leaders of Somalia which it used to deal with. Yet that does not meant Addis Ababa has cut its relations with the regional leaders as Farmajo insisted in his justification of close ties with Ethiopia.
So the president whose term has ended, then embarked to install some of his own handpicked regional heads of governments with the help of Ethiopia, as was the case of South West State of Somalia.
Not only that, Farmajo devised a plan to dislodge the head of Jubaland State, Ahmed Madoobe, from Kismayo, strategic port city, where Kenyan forces from AMISOM mission are posted. When that plan faltered despite frontal attack on it, Farmajo acted on to divide Jubaland by cutting Gedo Region from Jubaland. He forcefully employed Somali National Forces to replace the army of Jubaland State by occupying Bulo Hawo, and placing its hand on forces loyal to him. That resulted in skirmish with rival forces along the border with Kenya and Somalia.
Nevertheless, Gedo State was not formed. Still and all, this trial to create new state was against the setup of the Federal States that has been formed before his assumption of leadership in Somalia. Still, his aim of rocking the boat of the federal state of Jubaland was to pocket the 16 members of federal parliament from Gedo region. Moreover, to curry favor from the dwellers of the Capital Mogadishu, he assigned Mogadishu 13 more members added to the Upper House of the federal parliament, which is against the constitution as the place of the capital in the federal arrangement has not yet been decided. Also he stacked the commission for the election his own men that raised objections by Jubaland and Puntland States.
Accordingly, combination of the above ignited the disagreement that have unsettled the holding of the 8 February presidential election. Though at the moment, those outstanding issues have been resolved as claimed by the declaration of technical committees from both the federal government and the federal states along with Banadir region at a meeting held in Baidabo, the capital of South West State, from 15 to 16 of February.
Nonetheless, making the declaration an accord signed by the former president and federal governments with the Banadir region as hoped on conference called by Farmajo was scuttled by a rift between Farmajo and the candidates for the presidential election, whose planned demonstration on 19 February was halted on the orders of Farmajo.
In consequence, the genie is out of the bottle. The tangle has resulted in unexpected surprise. It has redrawn the country into fiefdoms of warlords. President Farmajo himself became one of the warlords instead of the lord of the Somalis – the warlord of Gedo. And now by firing the first bullet to stop the planned demonstration against his stay in power has rebooted the country in its earlier days of civil war.
Presently, it is hard to imagine without a general consensus from Somali body politics how to proceed from the confusion caused by the stalled election. Neither the former president nor his opponents comprising Federal states of puntland and Jubaland along with the bunch of presidential candidates will entertain ideas that favor either of them. Nor an idea out of the box that would allow the formation of transitional government run by technocrats consisting elders, intellectuals and prominent religious scholars will be palatable against the odds of 4.5 clan power sharing formula, though a technocrat model of government would have been the best solution if attempted.
That could give a lasting ground work for a stable Somalia which will pave the way for administering a general election that sets aside the jigsaw of 4.5 power sharing formula of Somali clans. Without that or a formula that shuts the 4.5 clan power sharing, Somalia is on slippery slope that will sink itself on the shores of the pushes and the pulls enactment of fiefdoms of its warlords. Last but not the least, Somalia is to unshackle itself the ‘shared sovereignty’ that international community has imposed on her that limits its independent of thought to devise ways and means to come out from dark hole it is in. Otherwise, this will perpetuate Somalia to be a paper state (a state only in name), not even a banana republic one.
Abdisalam M. Mohamud (PhD)
Email: [email protected]
Dr Abdisalam is a political analyst on world affairs.
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