Guest Article: Can Somalia Pick Up The Pieces ?
By: Mohamed Africa
Somalia’s Federal Parliament approved overwhelmingly the new Prime Minister on Saturday, marking the beginning of the latest attempt to pick up the pieces.
Somalia has come a long way setting its own political crises through constitutional manner without external input or pressure. This political momentum, which the country seized at the right place and right time, is among the rare successes that have ever been delivered by Somalia’s institutions.
In early December, the federal parliament dissolved former Prime Minister Mr. Abdi Farah Shirdon “Saaid” with a majority vote of no-confidence -amid political rift with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamed- accusing him of incompetence. Despite Mr. Saaid accepted the parliamentary decision in dignified way; his dismissal can’t justify the poor performance of the whole government or serve as scapegoat.
Accusations of financial scandal that surfaced upon ex-Central Bank Chief Ms. Yusra Abrar’s resignation posed many questions in the minds of people who are still awaiting a concrete explanation. A serious investigation must be conducted to know precisely_ what, why and who pushed her to resign.
Instantly, new Prime Minister Abdiwali Sheikh Ahmed, an economist with strong background now has been appointed and endorsed- as successor to Mr. Saaid. However, Villa Somalia- Somalia’s state house- is merely optimistic and sending positive signals that the new PM will design effectively the next stage of state building.
The Somali government has been planning a U-turn policy in order to appeal to the Arab League in dealing with financial crises within the government- as it failed to convince the EU to distribute pledged billions of aid directly into state coffers. Hence, Mr. Ahmed is expected to go beyond the initial fundraising plan by taking advantage his relations with the Arab world –especially- oil-rich Gulf States.
Being political newcomer, it’s too early to verify his personal integrity and leadership qualities, but there are doubts of possible link between him and the ruling Islamists. In addition, some critics are saying that he has a shadowy record of financial credibility. None of these claims can be independently confirmed and are pending further clarification.
On Saturday, Federal Parliament simply approved Mr. Ahmed as the sixth prime minister in six years. Since an inclusive government is awaiting, the biggest test will be how he shapes the coming cabinet and convince various clans and stakeholders across the country.
Some old faces are expected to stay. Ms. Fowziya Haji Aden, a close ally with President Mohamud, expected to remain the Foreign Minister in the new government. Moreover, prominent figures of Damjadiid -an inner circle group associated with President Mohamud- likely will stick around to be part of the ministerial council for the second spell.
Since September 2012, the group has been occupying senior offices including ministerial posts and security agencies in an alleged bid to extend their dominance of the government. Nevertheless, the group has received widespread public criticism and anger. Some political analysts believe; – it is now the time for Political Islamists to cease their political show up.
There is no doubt that President Mohamud will draw his allies and friends in the selection process of the ministerial council, thus political crises are far from to end. Potentially, another feud fueled by clan calculus or control over authority and economic capital may suddenly come right around the corner.
The new Prime Minister Mr. Ahmed faces tough tasks ahead as the country is at a critical crossroads struggling with political and humanitarian crises, clan conflicts, endemic corruption and security challenges.
Most important, an immediate political package including broad-based reconciliation at the regional and national level is urgently in need. Moreover, the new government should lay the foundation of federal states and mobilize Somalis into a political engagement where there is no winner or loser among rival clans so the nation can pave the way for free and fair elections in 2016.
The international backed initiative of political dialogue between Mogadishu and Hargeisa needs a further push to finalize the fate of the nation. Both sides must go into genuine negotiation without pre-conditions and delay. The principle of union should neither be the center of the dialogue nor a barrier.
In many ways, the country is at a crossroads, either to survive or otherwise slip once again into chaos and civil strife. All this depends on the vision of the leadership and the political will on the ground.
Author: Mohamed Africa is a political analyst and former diplomat. He worked on diplomatic capacity of Somali Permanent Mission of AU & UNECA. He poses significant specialist knowledge of the political context of the region and African Affairs.
You may follow the author on twitter @MohamedAAfrica or reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The article was proofread by Tres Thomas, PHD candidate, Freelancer, Blogger on www.somalianewsroom.com. You may find him on twitter @tresthomas_HOA