Tuesday, October 04, 2022
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Somalia’s protracted political instability and fragility design

By Abdulhalim Rijaal

The politics of Somalia is like an old, worn-out car, where owners think the problem is with the driver!

Somalia is gearing towards choosing a president through an indirect election, of a Parliamentary selection on Sunday, May 15, 2022 after a much-delayed chaotic process that took more than a year of political crisis and also missing the goal of 1 person 1 vote, under two presidential cycles – 4 years of President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud and 5 years of President Farmaajo’s Administration.

Presidents Hassan Sheikh (Left) Farmaajo and Sharif, 2017, Mogadishu

The Somalis from any part of Somalia or the ethnic Somalis from other regions of East and Horn of Africa and the diaspora of the larger Somali communities around the world, Somalis being nomads by nature and news consumers, they all have one thing in common, that connects to Somalia, which is the love of political events in Somalia. They are all concerned and follow about Somalia’s politics, inquiring news about how long will the political instability of the country would last, can this continuous cycle of violence and the lack of security will come to an end?

Many scholars, analysts and followers of Somalia’s politics for the past 60 years recognize that Somalia’s history is erroneously continuous, whether from the active elites, corrupt politicians or from the international community.

The nature Somalia’s conflict and the endless political crises is taking the country a toll to a state of no return. Anyone including myself is surprised to seeing the same mistakes being repeated over and over again, as if history is repeating itself, and if this defect in Somalia’s political instability is a genetic defect! Instead of moving Somalia forward, it seems every President’s interest since 2012 is concentrating all powers under his belt, weakening institutions and with only one interest of how to extend his term in office and to come back by any means! 

On issues of what to do about Somalia’s complex and multifaceted crisis aside, there is a more expressive term for Somalia’s predicament -Meta crisis, which means despite of the multiplicity of crises, it stems from one problem. This problem is what political scientists call it a fragile design.

Somalia, since its inception, after the independent of Italian Somaliland and British Somaliland and later unification, has been immersed in a fragile design. The fragility of institutions in Somalia stems from the country’s inception and continued after the fall of Siyad Barre’s regime in 1991 followed by the civil war, famine and the displacement of millions of people.

The issue of Somalia’s politics at the present time misses the core of conflict! Its like an old, worn-out car, where its owners think that the problem is with the driver. The protracted dispute of the old car is over a) who is driving the car?  the President or the PM, b) who is riding next to the driver in this case the Prime Minister with continuous rift with the President, c) which system of governance to adopt- Federal or strong central government and d) at what speed, use the maximum speed, or should we reduce the speed etc.

This is how the initiatives continues outside the real problem of the country, The car was not organically built and does not have a useful engine or energy to continue moving; we see in it everything around us, the economy, politics, social life, and the childish way the Somali politicians deal with the world in terms of policy and foreign relations. Here it becomes like someone drowning and thinking slow, saying I must hold on… I must take a breath… But all of that of course will not work. So, whoever thinks that Somalia’s problem will be solved by just selecting a president is not the solution, whether selecting the incumbent President Farmaajo, or the former and familiar faces still active in Somali’s politics. I call these names the recycled faces of Somalia politics. This is not going to solve the harsh reality in Somalia protracted insecurity and political instability, as well as the widespread corruption, and the absence of Justice. It is not a secret that with tens of millions looted and reported by international organizations, yet, none have faced justice or been brought to justice despite their enormous crimes.

Who can think outside this vicious circle of history and come up with something reliable? Cognitive sciences clearly show us that if a person’s life extends, his cells will be intertwined and settled on certain postulates and cognitive models, so it is difficult for him to change. It is not just a slogan raised, as we heard from the candidates of the upcoming presidential of Somalia, do not expect positive change in Somalia’s politics by selecting the same old faces to the office of the Presidency, without complete constitution and effective institutions with clear roadmap and effective, independent legislators and judicial branch free from the executive  branch of the Government. 

I think many will agree that it is about time to give a chance for new faces and also prepare the young generation of Somalis to enter politics to serve their country.  Perhaps this is what big companies do when they give young thinkers and owners of ideas that they call crazy by putting forward proposals and ideas that are out of the ordinary, so that we can keep the youth of their future and give the present to them, perhaps they will be able to intoxicate the cycle of history in Somalia.

In conclusion, I believe the critical dilemma in Somalia is perhaps establishing a federal system in a country with no constitution or institutions to carry out effective day to day government operations ; many decent Somalis expected to live and thrive in their country.  Thus the country needs an able and competent leader, who is not self-serving, only seeking power and resource for personal and clan interest but for the the greater good of the country Somalia.

The separation of power is critical and important in Somalia ; the parliament and judiciary branches must be an independent bodies, where the MPs shouldn’t serve the executive as ministers. And then and only then we can expect the branches of government to function effectively and serve the public, otherwise it will be business as usual as we have seen in the past .

Abdulhalim Rijaal
Email: [email protected]

Mr. Rijaal is a political and national security analyst based in Washington D.C area

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