The aim of this short and hastily written article is not to blindly/ negatively criticize the newly formed Somali government, but instead it’s aimed at illuminating various core issues that need to be debated, and addressed by the Somali government, International Community and the citizens of the world.
“We agreed not to Disagree” is a direct quote from the newly “selected” Somali president on his relationship with his Prime Minister (PM) and the Speaker. The president told a packed press conference in Mogadishu shortly after his inaugural ceremony that these three men had a pact in place in which El Predisidente termed as “agreeing not to disagree.” The President went further to blame his predecessors for endless feuds and conflicts and he promised his audience a sterile and clinically conflict free government. If the president is right on this the future is bright and he will be remembered for many generations to come and this move will prove Mr El- Presidente’s extra ordinary ability to govern a complex and clan ridden society like ours.
The Invisible Clan Hand
According to the aforementioned quote, the president claimed to be wearing a bullet prove PM and Speaker, however, what Mr President may have either ignored or forgotten is that the current Somali government is officially based on the nasty 4.5 formula which is a tricky business and the balance of power can easily tilt on the other side of the clan equilibrium thus causing clans competing for control of government like we’ve seen it happen from time to time. Even if the Prime Minister and the Speaker become puppets, the clans these men hail from/ represent will never accept the misuse of the holy 4.5 power sharing dose, so in theory an agreement between them is possible, but managing and sharing of the goodies or the loot based on 4.5 formula is the only remedy and magic potion that can cure suspicion and it will also minimise competition and political rivalry between the top cats and the so called reformed warlords in office. The clans are glue that puts the cabinet, the people and the government together. Each big shot gets his/her instructions from their influential clan leaders/ Qabqable.
For those of you who are familiar with theories in economics, let me use Adam Smith’s notion of the “Invisible Hand” which is a term used by Adam to illustrate the natural force that guides free market capitalism through competition for scarce resources. According to Adam Smith, in a free market each member will try to maximize self-interest, and the interaction of market participants, leading to exchange of goods and services, which will in turn enable each participant to be better off than when simply producing for himself/herself.
Adam Smith went on to say that in a free market, of no regulation of any sort would be needed to make sure that the reciprocally beneficial exchange of goods and services took place, since this "invisible hand" would guide market participants to trade in the most mutually beneficial manner.
Similar to this the Somalis belong to a various clans/sub-clans that are competing against each other for the scarce resources in terms, of relief aid, scholarships, jobs, ministerial posts etc. As I had mentioned earlier on, even if the president has made a deal with these two men, the ground is still shaky and nothing is certain, and whatever, agreement these men may/not have agreed on behind closed doors is not the word of GOD or holy in any form of shape, the nature of the future political, social and economic condition in the country could change anytime like the weather conditions in the Western hemisphere that always changes from rain, slit, sunshine and snow.
I personally find this statement to be not only disturbing, bizarre but against the very constitution that these men swore to protect and uphold. This statement also means that the president thinks that he can without fear break the law and do whatever he likes with impunity and get away with anything, since the PM and the Speaker will blindly support him in line with their “Gentlemen agreement”. On the contrary this informal /unofficial agreement of theirs is not legally binding. The Somali constitution is the supreme law of the country. Furthermore, it provides the legal foundation and framework for the existence of the republic, sets out the rights and duties of its citizens, and defines the structure of the government.
The Presidents Meeting with Somalis in the Diaspora.
Meeting the Somalis in the Diaspora has once more exposed the influence and the significance of Clan Politics. I was perplexed when a I watched a clip on Youtube whereby a number Somalis hailing from the Jubbaland were demonstrating in the cold and freezing Minnesotan harsh winter, against the president and his entourage while the president’s and his “die hard” supporters were jubilant and joyous in the well heated meeting venue.
As I am writing this article a huge demonstration is under preparation in London. These demos against the president will continue and could escalate into nourishing the deep rooted division amongst Somalis in the Diaspora. The Somali government should address the root causes of these demos, the mistrust and division that exist amongst its citizens at home and abroad should be taken seriously, so that a brotherly sprit and formation of an all inclusive and just government is formed.
What the Somali President /Government Ought to DO
A) The Somali president shouldn’t waste his time, money and energy on visiting well-fed Somalis in the Diaspora, who are hell-bent on dividing Somalis and competing for top government posts, while masquerading and disguising their personal interest in the name of Somali Community this and that. For instance when other heads of states from Africa and elsewhere come to UK on official visit they rarely waste their precious time on Community leaders who have neither legitimacy nor respect at grass root level.
The President should instead direct his energy and resources on visiting thousands or war orphaned children and other destitute Somalis rotting in depressing and desolate refugee camps in the middle of nowhere in Kenya, Ethiopia, Yemen and Djibouti.
Honestly speaking, I do not recall watching or reading any Somali president visiting refugee camps abroad. As far as I know at the height of the most recent famine that hit Somalia a couple of months back there was a highly televised visit by former Somali President Sheekh Sharif and Turkish delegation visiting IDPs in Mogadishu. By en large, most refugees consider themselves forgotten and abandoned by the world and the Somalis, visiting them would at least give them a glimmer of hope and huge morale boost in a hopeless and bleak situation that they are entrapped into. The president must visit all refugee camps in Somalia and abroad.
B) The president and his cabinet should take a lead in inviting back all Somalis who used to live in Mogadishu to return regardless of clan affiliation, guaranteeing their security and assisting all returnees. Giving Mogadishu its previous status as the Capital city of Somalia may lessen the mistrust that already exists among various clans both indigenous and non indigenous.
D) The government should form an Independent Legal Advisory Organ consisting of multi- clan elders, religious leaders, and internal as well as external experts preferably Property Law Experts in addressing land and other asset related disputes all over the country. This Ombudsman like organ should advice and technically assist the existing courts, whenever necessary. So far I have never heard nor have I ever watched on telly any Somali president addressing this deep rooted and complex issue. A government with international recognition will be useless if deep mistrust amongst its citizen does exist and if all Somalis are unable to return anywhere in the Republic.
E) Formation of a local Mogadisho administration reflecting all the people residing in the city should be created, while giving a lion’s share/ priority to the indigenous local people, at the same time not ignoring non- indigenous but residents. Once that is done the Kismayu and other regions should follow suit in creating their own administration. Solving the status of Mogadish first in satisfactory manner will lessen the burden of forming local administrations elsewhere. But if some segments of the Somali population perceive Mogadhisu as a clan enclave and not the capital of united Somalia then we are in big trouble. God forbid, if this happens the other clans will be susceptible into forming their own fiefdoms and this could cause wars, which will be a reverse development.
F) Training of the armed forces, Police, Navy and other security personnel, together appointment of government officials, diplomats should reflect all the regions of Somalia and the number each region or province /district is supposed to enlist must be vetted by the parliament, if this is not done, we could end up getting armed militias pretending to be a national army or police force and government that in reality represents one clan or region.
G) Scholarships, foreign aid relief aid in any form or shape should be distributed in a humane and equal way while first and foremost focusing on where intervention is mostly needed, instead of concentrating everything in the capital and surrounding areas. Doing this will not only promote transparency, but will build a brotherly bond between Somalis all over the country while minimizing mistrust and the centralization of power which many Somalis argue was the root cause of the collapse of the Somali state.
Political Economist works in Central London for a major Financial Institution