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Farmajo’s antics not good for international peace

By People Daily
Wednesday, February 24th, 2021
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i with Somalia President Mohamed Farmaajo in Mogadishu. Photo/COURTESY
In summary

By Jacob Oketch

Somalia is facing an electoral crisis that is likely to lead to its deterioration. President Mohamed Farmaajo has been having frosty relations with some of the regional leaders that form the federation of the Republic of Somalia. Matters have not been helped by the fact that the president has failed in rallying these leaders around having free and fair elections given that his term has effectively come to an end.

President Farmajo seems not to be keen to repair Somalia’s diplomatic relations with Kenya. Whereas he may have thought that this antagonism was going to benefit him politically, it has not. The passing on of Garissa senator Yussuf Haji is a big blow to peace efforts in the region. The late Haji has been instrumental-for decades -in the Kenya-Somalia peace engagements and his passing comes at a time a more experienced hand is needed to unlock the impasse.

As things stand-things can easily spiral out of control in Somalia. President Farmajo’s recalcitrance notwithstanding-a strong coalition of presidential candidates-including two former presidents-is not a force the incumbent could easily contend with-and win. The fact that the president’s term has already expired complicates things further. With all these encumbrances-Farmajo worsens things by antagonizing Kenya-who has done more than any country in the region to secure Somalia’s sovereignty.

The case before the international court of Justice pitting Kenya and Somalia is something that could be easily settled through arbitration. But Somalia government knows that they can elicit international sympathy from allies-Somalia has insisted that the legal process has to go on to its conclusive end. This move further raises unnecessary tension between the two neighboring states.

The history of the two states-is so interlinked that their peaceful coexistence is of extreme importance to the entire region. Take for instance Kenya’s relation with the two semi autonomous regional governments-Somaliland and Jubaland.Even with the frosty relationship between the Kenya government and that of the federal republic of Somalia-Kenya enjoys warm relations with Jubaland and Somaliland.Infact, President Madobe recently attended the funeral of the late senator Yussuf Haji.

This indicates that the crisis in Somalia affects Kenya just as much as it affects the troubled state. Flagrant abuse of human rights by the federal government security forces is inexcusable and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. This is the kind of atmosphere that does not engender appropriate environment for an election. Those who advise Farmajo ought to tell him that you cannot succeed in organizing an election-in an environment-where guns are blazing everywhere and everyone is speaking at cross purpose. It just does not happen that way.

The internationally recognized boundaries in Africa may not be the actual boundaries that were there before-but for the sake of peace and stability-the status quo has ensured peace within the maritime. Hence, if the current boundary has served the two feuding states well-why can’t we just continue cooperating as we have done before? It is not tenable for Somalia to insist on the ICJ case-more so-at this time when it is facing an electoral crisis. Somalia should actually consider postponing this case-until such a time when she shall have dealt with the electoral challenge.

With this state of affairs in Somalia, the continental peace keeping force’s mandate ought to be renewed to ensure that Somalia’s security is not compromised further.Amisom-which comprises troops from several African countries- plays a pivotal role in ensuring stability in Somalia. Even with diplomatic relations between Kenya and Somalia severed-Kenya is still at the centre of efforts to stabilize the Somalia nation. And given what Kenya has done in the past to secure the stability of Somalia-one wonders how credible the claim by the federal government that Kenya is undermining her authority is.

With this kind of scenario playing out-it is expected that the Alshabab terrorist group is watching from the sidelines-and they can easily take advantage of this crisis-to do further damage both in Somalia and Kenya. And that is why Kenya must be on high alert and even review her operations in Somalia. Withdrawing Kenyan troops in Somalia at this particular time should be out of the question.

It is expected that Kenya and the new Biden administration will work very closely-in combating the terrorism menace occasioned by the Alshaabab.The US government ought to be paying close attention to the political events going on in Somalia-because they directly impact the efforts made to combat terrorism in the region. President Farmajo ought to be pressured to facilitate speedy, free and fair elections in Somalia to salvage the country from sliding back to anarchy.

The write is the author of Aphorism and poems of light. [email protected]

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