By Abdihafid Mohamed Omar (Wadaad)
Somalia has not had a free election for almost 60 years! You might ask why?
Back in the sixties when the colonialists left; the country was poor in every aspect. The Majority of the populace lived in the rural areas, fewer cities existed, and the infrastructure and human capital were both mostly non-existent. To make the matters worse, the majority of the population was nomads and had no understanding of the modern political culture. Those who lived in the cities where the western political culture and civilization dominated, however; were exposed only to the bad side of it.
With the cold war ensuing and the tides of communism and capitalism sweeping across Africa- the colonials; bankrupted by the second world war could not afford the luxury of having too many unproductive colonies- for better or worse; it was time they had to let go of them.
When the time came; the political elite in Somalia were mostly aligned with the capitalism side- because both territories (the south and north) were colonized by two countries in the west of Europe. Upon gaining independence; those leaders took it upon themselves to govern the newly founded country like a bank. This behavior encouraged resistance, chaos and in some cases, confrontations between the Somali tribes who value the idea of sharing and good neighborliness more than any other thing.
Ever since that behavior started, corruption skyrocketed and the unity of Somalia was maimed before it even took root. To take advantage of this disarray, new elite assembled themselves; an elite eyeing east and aligned with the communists. They consisted of mainly military men and students- who went to the soviet Russia via scholarship grants, but returned with a mighty weapon- the undiluted ideology of communism.
With an unlimited need for many educated men and women both in the military and in the civilian sector; their ideology was of no concern and many of them were positioned high in the ranks of the government. At first; the executive branch of the government turned blind eye on the issue for the sake of consolidating themselves in the power but when reality caught up with them; their response was too little and it was already too late.
When the communist military government of the 21st October was established, the capitalists and their sympathizers were rounded up- many were killed and many more were sent to prison. The simple philosophy that two opposing ideologies can function within a country (without any alteration in each of them, of course) is appalling.
The communists held fake elections and often won with the highest scores- and people bought this fantasy for a very long time. The question was not “holding elections”, it was about “who” could win! Ultimately; it was not “not holding” elections that brought down the military government; it was rather “not holding fair” elections.
When the communist military government was toppled; the country was toppled with it. Both ideologies of capitalism and communism lost to the Somali ideology of “if you can’t have it; neither can anyone else”. It is a fair game if you look it in the right but then again a sinister and malicious one to be involved in!- share or divide, but if you are deprived of your rightful share and then not given what is yours to you- you will have no choice but to resort to violence and wreak havoc on everything there is.
When the quasi-election system of 4.5 was adopted in the early 2000s, the tribes were as far from each other as they had ever been. It was a phenomenon which needed to be addressed but unfortunately, deliberately ignored. This system of quasi-election was not very bright- but the people wanted a fantasy; something they could watch and rally behind- and they got it. Later; some various irregularities emerged; most prominent of them; the purchase of the MP votes and of course- nominal governments that had neither power not legitimacy and many more told and untold tragedies.
This system has given birth to 5 different governments so far; and is still in place. According to statistical data; more than any other time- people have now woken up to the reality and want to vote, but to their shock, they cannot. Are you shocked?!
You shouldn’t! Because this quasi-election system is not perfect but it gets the job done. Of course people do not care who comes in with strategy but only care about who comes! Simply because they are tired of this drama which they first thought would give them a savior- they are now desperate- if I take a wild guess; “if a fair election is to be held sometime in the future; the turnout would be less than 30 percent of the population”.
More shocking is that now some tribes cannot even select their own MPs on their own without other tribes’ meddling or approval. It is of course shameful, horrifying and inhumane treatments to ake away someone else’ freedom to choose what is good for them, to elect their delegates and to appoint their MPs.
This election like many others before; will not get us any closer to the wonderland we all sought and strived for- it will only make turn that wonderland into a dystopian colony-which none of us will survive on.
In conclusion; any election held only to project the donors that there is a movement within the country (it does not matter; where the country is moving to); will not produce any tangible and productive change, at all.
The objective of an election should be “a change” not only to the leaders but the way the country is run and administered. Until this objective is fully agreed by all tribes- regardless of which administration they live in; the future of a developed, fully respected Somalia government (whether inside the country or at the international arena), and a prosperous society sustained by what their land has to offer- IS A VERY DISTANT REALITY.
Abdihafid Mohamed Omar (Wadaad)
Email: [email protected]
Abdihafid (Wadaad) senior political commentator and the director ofwadaad consultancy for political affairs- Somalia.
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