By Mohamed Abdiqafar Haji Hussein
Anyone who sees the pictures taken at Mogadishu airport and was circulated in social media when the Eritrean foreign minister Osman Salah Mohammed arrived in Mogadishu, will notice that something is wrong.
One picture shows the Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire, leading Eritrea’s foreign minister from his plane into the VIP room, at Mogadisho Airport, while the Somali foreign minister Ahmed Isse Awad, walks about 24 feet behind them. Normally, according to universal diplomatic protocols, each government official is supposed to be received by his or her counterpart.
Some people may argue that the very reason why the Eritrean foreign minister came to visit to Mogadishu was that he was carrying a message from his president to Somalia’s president. But even if that is the case, it is still under normal protocols for his counterpart to welcome the foreign minister at the airport, and after they have a brief meeting, he could have then conveyed the message to President Farmaajo.
In this case, however, Prime Minister Khaire, who loves to get all the attention, humiliated his foreign minister by inviting him to the airport, while still not accorded him the courtesy to talk to his Eritrean counterpart on an equal basis.
One can only imagine how Eritrea’s foreign minister will treat any Somali foreign minister who ever visits Eritrea, no matter what that visit is about. But, this also shows that the quality of those ministers who are still working with the prime minister is at its lowest point, if they still think that what the prime minister did to his foreign minister was right.
Another picture shows Prime Minister Kheire meeting with the Eritrean FM with the Somali flag behind him, but there is no Eritrean flag anywhere in the room, and there is no Somali foreign minister in the room either!.
Many people may think mistakes were made here, but Prime Minister Kheire was very proud of his actions. He immediately tweeted those two pictures as if there was nothing wrong with them, and he seemed to indicate that the visit shows that Somalia’s government is making progress toward international cooperation.
In the tweet, the prime minister wrote, “Eritrean FM Osman Saleh and Presidential adviser, Yemane Gebreab arrive in Mogadishu for high-level talks, following President Farmajo’s recent visit to Asmara. Regional cooperation for stability and economic progress is crucial for common prosperity of the Horn. #nabadiyonolol.” https://t.co/1rlMsK98Fj “
The sad truth is that Prime Minister Kheire knows that not too many people out there can challenge his rule. Those who could challenge him, including the former ministers of foreign Affairs and the interior, the former mayor of Mogadishu and others who speak their mind were removed from their position without a valid reasons.
Those who remain and still work for the government are the likes of Ahmed Isse Awad, the current foreign minister, and Eng. Yariisow, the mayor of Mogadishu, and others, of whom it is said that when the prime minister asks them to jump, they say: “How high?”
Somalia’s president, who was supposed to lead and oversee that the government does its basic function as stipulated in the Somali Constitution and to advise and make the prime minister accountable has proven so far that he cannot fulfill his constitutional duties.
The few opposition groups who tried to exercise their rights to speak freely and peacefully were attacked in their homes and arrested, and no other opposition members dare to speak freely. Legislative and judiciary leaders who are expected to hold the government accountable are known to have been handpicked by the prime minister himself and the former chief of staff.
Moreover, as a result, no one respects the president any more internationally. The president said when he visited Eritrea last month, that he invited his counterpart, but now it is clear what the president of Eritrea thought of the Somali president, given that he sent his foreign minister to visit instead.
With all that said, the prime minister may still think that his action will lead Somalia into the right path, but it will surely backfire. The Somali people have slowly come to realize that the prime minister is trying to dictate and consolidate all the power into his own hand, and they know that the reason why Somalia is in this predicament, to begin with, was a dictatorial rule.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was accused of trying to consolidate power into his own hands by firing any prime minister who spoke against his wishes, and we all know where he ended up. It is said that one can fool some of the people some of the time but not all the people all the time. Prime Minister Khaire has entertained Somali people long enough with his beliefs about how Somalia can be managed, but after a year and a half in power there is nothing to show off.
In the two and a half years that remain in his term, it will be almost impossible to achieve all the tasks that he believes he can accomplish, including one person one vote, if the performance of his last year and a half is used as the basis for projecting his future performance.
The study that was conducted after Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s government failed to accomplish one person one vote suggested that the reason why it failed was that more was expected from his government than was possible to accomplish in a four-year term.
However, the current prime minister can still change the course, but only if he decides that he wants to be truthful with the Somali people and tell them what he sees on the ground instead of what he believes can happen. Only when that happens can he come up with a feasible plan to accomplish everything that is left to do in the remaining years of his term.
Everyone knows that members of the last government claimed they were performing according to plan until the last minute, when it became obvious that one person one vote was impossible, and a different plan was implemented. one that is a little bit more accountable than the system used previously, would have to be used instead.
Somali people are reasonable people, and all they want from their leadership is to be truthful and not waste another four years entertaining the public with nothing to show for it at the end. Besides, no one so far has been successful by dictating to any society. Knowing that, the prime minister needs to listen to the Somali people, who want to share their view of how to move forward.
Moreover, and most importantly, Prime Minister Kheire will need to delegate work to his ministers and hold them accountable instead of micromanaging, thinking that firing and humiliating ministers or any other government official is the only job he has and the right thing to do.
If the prime minister focuses on the actual progress being made on the ground, instead of on the progress made on paper or in a communique intended to generate more cash from international communities, he may accomplish something, but he has to present a feasible plan first.
Mohamed Abdiqafar Haji Hussein.
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