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Somalia:Great Jubilation Can Farmaajo Meet Expectancies

Wednesday September 20, 2017 - 05:12:13 in Latest News by Super Admin
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    Somalia:Great Jubilation Can Farmaajo Meet Expectancies - The election of Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, on Feb. 8, 2017, has been welcomed by the Somali people throughout the country and in the diaspora with great jubilation. The elation was more of a revolt against incompetence and corruption

    Share on Twitter Share on facebook Share on Digg Share on Stumbleupon Share on Delicious Share on Google Plus - The election of Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, on Feb. 8, 2017, has been welcomed by the Somali people throughout the country and in the diaspora with great jubilation. The elation was more of a revolt against incompetence and corruption than it was a support for the new president; he has an opportunity, nevertheless, to earn people's support from here on.

It’s not intended to take anything away from the president, but his past accomplishments did not match the adulations he has received from the Somali people worldwide. During his tenure as prime minister of the Transitional Federal Government, he displayed nationalism by standing with the Somali Army and traveling on local airlines to save thousands of dollars.  While these deeds are noble, it cannot be translated into milestones. His nationalist supporters objected to the foreign occupation and clan politics that existed during his regime. The public support the president has received is indicative of how tired people are of the status-quo, the foreign meddling, acquiescent leaders and religious fanatics; they are hoping the new regime will bring change.

The election process was not free of drawbacks, far from it. Security obviously was a big concern. Initially, the Police School was chosen to be the venue for the election but that plan has been changed and the venue was moved to an air force facility at the airport, a compound protected by foreign security forces. Certain groups were suspected of planning to influence the election outcome, a manifestation of genuine distrust amongst parliamentarians as well as the presidential candidates. Also the airport facility was safer for the foreign dignitaries. The city was put under a curfew, halting movement of goods and people for days.

Corruption was rampant. Money was traded during the selections and elections. According to various local and international media outlets, thousands of dollars were paid by the parliamentary candidates to buy votes. The presidential candidates paid equal amount or more money to get elected as well.  Foreigners were involved, each promoting its pick for president. According to New York Times article, many countries were involved including Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan and Donor Countries.

The presidential election was streamed live by the United Nations Assistant Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). People watched the event on YouTube live along with Somali websites and media outlets. This reveals the fact that all aspects of the election process were ran and controlled by foreigners.

The country has been taken advantage of militarily, commercially and politically under the guise of the so called War on Terror, particularly in the south and the central regions. The communities in this region have made tremendous political progress since the disintegration of state institution in 1991. They have been through clan wars, overcame warlord domination, have witnessed religious uprising and have seen brutal foreign occupation. Their resilience is beyond human imagination. Political and economic stability as well as democracy and rule of law are what they are longing for. Regressing back to pre 2006 warlord era, using Federal States to palliate suspicions, goes against their aspirations.

There was no genuine effort to rebuild national security institutions. The security personnel have not been paid for months. The only paid security forces are groups that are managed and paid by a private security company and a foreign country. There is no national army but clan militias and foreign mercenaries. Ostensibly, the Somali leaders prefer to remain dependent on AMISOM and foreign mercenaries for their safety and security.

Neighboring countries were on the offence. Through their strategic cooperation against Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia have developed a program to establish regional governments in the south and central regions, with utter disregard to the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. It is through this program, Grand Stabilization of South Central Somalia, that the regional governments were formed. Foreigners cannot and should not be allowed to interfere in the internal affairs of the state.

It is Somalia’s interest to extract its oil and gas assets to benefit its citizens and rebuild the ailing infrastructure.  However, the agreement the Somali government and Soma Oil and Gas Exploration Limited signed on August 6, 2013 was a bad deal for the country. Somalia was not in a position to make such complex oil and gas deals. The government did not have the legitimacy necessary to make this agreement on behalf of the Somali people. Legislations that should govern oil and gas concessions did not exist.  The government as well as the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources lacked the capacity to craft proper commercial terms. The fact that the employees of the ministry were paid and trained by Soma Oil was conflict of interest.

It is deeply disappointing that the new president appoints and the parliament unanimously approves a shareholder, board member as well as head of African Branch of Soma Oil and Gas Holdings Ltd, Mr Hassan Ali Kheire, as the Prime Minister of the country. This move contradicts promises made by both parliament and the president to protect state assets and fight against corruption. The president must withdraw from the oil deal with Soma Oil and put a moratorium on any new deals until the country is ready.

The nation’s ports, airports and other public properties have been illegally leased to private companies; the territorial waters of the country have been reduced from 200nm to 12nm with a presidential decree; Somalia signed an agreement with Kenya and Ethiopia to build a dam on Jubba River. This deal will not only impact farmers in Gedo, Lower Jubba and Middle Jubba, but all of Somalia.  Unfortunately, the Somali Government acted as if it was the international faction in the Somali conflict; it facilitated the foreigners to advance their agendas with downright disregard to Somalia’s interest.

Correcting all of these mistakes are challenges awaiting the new president along with leading the country toward peace and stability.

In order to move the nation forward, the internal political process must be free of foreign interferences and should focus on national reconciliation, institution building, public participation and provision of security. it is essential that the government prioritizes bringing closure to the civil war. Ending sectarianism, opening negotiations with Al-Shabaab, and dealing with the international community on a levelled field are equally important.

The issue of civil war did not receive the attention it deserves. There has been no effort whatsoever from the previous government to consider this principal issue. We cannot pretend that nothing had happened and focus solely on institution building. Although there are no clan wars at the moment, the country is still in a state of war and deep distrust exists among the people because of it. It is due to this skepticism that people are unable to work together. Bringing closure to the civil war must be the first priority. It is the only possible way to bridge the gap between communities and create an environment in which they are able to cooperate to improve their livelihoods and to safeguard their common good.

Sectarianism continues to be a source of conflict and a serious obstacle, preventing the nation from attaining unity, peace and stability. The country needs a long term plan that successfully addresses sectarianism across religious and clan facets. It is not possible to remain divided and simultaneously achieve peace and stability.

Security restoration, starting with Mogadishu and then gradually expanding to the rest of the country, is of a paramount importance. Developing the economy with the aim to create employment opportunities and generate tax revenues is equally significant.

Negotiation with Harakat Al-Shabaab Al Mujahideen is a key to end the protracted conflict. There should be common understanding between parties regarding the role of the state on religious issues and role of religion in the affairs of the state. It is important that Al-Shabaab understands to respect other religious groups within the country, abandons its global agenda and severe ties with Al-Qaida.

International Community’s involvement that is centered exclusively on fighting Al-Shabaab by foreign forces and private contractors has to change. The IC might see this approach as a win for them but it is a loss for all. After ten years of its presence and more than twenty thousand troops, AMISOM could not secure the city of Mogadishu, let alone defeat Al-Shabaab. Al-Shabaab cannot be defeated by foreign invasion, as it’s a product of invasion itself. The conflict will remain protracted, civilian casualties will continue to increase, more foreigners will die and refugee exodus will continue. The slogan by AMISOM troop contributing countries "African Solution for African Problem” is misleading. Al-Shabaab is not an African problem, it is a Somali problem. It is time to put an end to outsourcing and start assisting the country on mutual basis to overcome extremism and bring closure to its civil war. This is a win for all.

In his inauguration speech, President Donald J Trump stated "We seek good will and friendship with the nations of the world but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their nations first.”  Hopefully the International Community will start showing good will and friendship for Somalia and begin respecting its right to put itself first.

In conclusion, the initial decisions president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo has made were very upsetting to say the least. He displayed poor judgement by appointing Soma Oil executive as prime minister and by throwing a lavish party at Villa Somalia while people were dying of hunger. He has been given the opportunity to legitimize himself and live up to the expectations expressed by the Somali people from all corners of the globe. Time will tell whether he utilizes this opportunity or not.

Written By

Mahad Y Sheikh

Mahad is a political activist, Film Maker, Photographer and Digital Media Producer.

He can be reached at: [email protected]

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