Somalia’s Farmaajo is creating imaginary enemies to stay longer in power
Wednesday, February 24th, 2021
By Adhere Cavince
Somalia’s political stability is sharply deteriorating yet President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, popularly known as Farmaajo, who could have provided leadership, is sinking deeper into partisanship and brinkmanship. With President Farmaajo’s term having lapsed on February 8 and with no clear path to elections, the troubled country is now staring at a political disaster whose ripple effects would be felt beyond the borders of Somalia.
The collective sigh of relief that greeted Farmaajo’s election in 2017, was premised on hopes to turnaround the socio-economic and political situation of the conflict ridden country. Young people across the Somalia looked to the horizon with newfound optimism for a better future, because Farmaajo was largely seen as untainted by the mess of Somalia’s governing elite.
That hope is fast fading with President Farmaajo recanting the very political process that hoisted him to helm. His revisionist posture in the backdrop of a litany of unmet campaign promises has put him at loggerheads with opposition figureheads and regional leaders. Farmaajo’s failure to organize timely, free and fair elections perhaps springs from his reading of history in which no past Somalia presidents was elected for a second term.
Since independence in 1960, Somalia has practiced an electoral system where members of the Lower House are indirectly chosen by clan elders; while the five federal states elect members to the Upper House. The President is then picked by members of both houses. Farmaajo’s attempt to depart from this precedent by fronting one-person, one-vote, has failed to get traction; putting Somalia into the path of another political apocalypse.
Farmaajo has since leveraged blame game to mask the failures of his leadership where opposition leaders are now viewed as saboteurs with state agencies unleashing political violence as witnessed during the February 19 incident in which live bullets were fired at protesters.
Where domestic squabbling is not reason enough, Farmaajo has turned his diversionary ire at foreign entities such as his spat with Nairobi that Kenya was interfering in Somalia’s internal affairs. A fact finding mission by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development has since exonerated Kenya from fraying Somalia’s sovereignty. Mogadishu has since turned its attention to other states in continuation of Farmaajo’s scapegoating spree.
Following the US withdrawal of troops from Somalia and eminent retreat of African Union Mission in Somalia from the country, the festering political stalemate could further open safe havens for the Al-Shabab, something that will be counterproductive to Somalia, the region and the world at large.
To salvage Somalia from the ongoing constitutional and leadership crises, the government should honour the bipartisan and inclusive September 2020 elections consensus and give Somalis a more durable chance at peace, political stability and development.
A stable Somalia would be good for the whole region. Neighbouring countries have borne the brunt of the fragility that has defined the country. Kenya has been a victim of terror attacks organized from Somalia. Kenya also hosts thousands of Somalis uprooted from their homes as a result of the running conflict.
The Covid-19 pandemic is already exacerbating the socio-economic vulnerability of ordinary Somalis. The government and all the stakeholders in Somalia should therefore seize the moment and deliver a governance framework that respects the rights, aspirations and values of the Somali people.