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Why Somali people in London protested against President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud?

Somali community in London protesting against President Hassan Sheikh's policies

Mohamed A Hussein
Sunday, May 12, 2013

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Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud met serious protest by Somali community in London against his policy, when he went to attend the second Somali Conference hosted by British Prime Minister David Cameron on May 7, 2013. This is the first time that a Somali president’s policy was opposed by many Somali communities representing different regions from North, Awdal state to the South, Jubbaland States over the creation of the federal states based on the constitution.

Somali Community in London expected, among others, that the president would implement the transitional federal constitution which allows any two or more states to form regional administration which becomes, after its inauguration, a member state of the Somali federal government. However, I believe there are three core reasons why London Somali residents protested against the president’s policy.

First, the protestor felt that the president focused to get international recognition and financial aid instead of aiming continual reconciliation among Somalis who after all expected from the president to at least implement transitional federal constitution agreed by all. This policy of centering international recognition and international financial aid without real reconciliation among Somalis is what made the previous transitional government fail. 

Immediately after president was elected by the parliament selected by traditional elders, the president, like his predecessor, started to travel international in order to get both recognition and financial aid, thinking that once he gain both, the rest of the Somali people will come to Mogadishu,  looking for their share of financial aid. But the President fail to recall that policy is what made others to miscarry.

President also ignored the fact that Somali government’s recognition by International community was not achieved due to his effort of traveling international, but it was attained because International community sought to end the transitional government of Somalia. That is why the transitional government was ended at end of august 2012 by IC following 8 months roadmap with understanding indicated both in the roadmap and constitution that reconciliation should continue the next four years until final constitution, based on one person one vote, agreed by all is adopted.

Contrary to the media report controlled by the government which reported only residents of Mogadishu organized to support the London conference, demonstrators in London consist of people represented by Markhir, Jubbaland, Awdal , Khatumo and Puntland states, who felt that the president came short of their expectation that Somali, after its recognition by international community, would continue reconciliation meeting inside Somali until final constitution agreed by all is implemented.

Second, the demonstrators accused the president that he changes his policy toward forming regional administration depending on the constituency. President's first trip inside Somalia was in Hiiraan region where the president declared that Somali people agreed, as indicated in the constitution, federal government of which the regional leaders will be elected by constituency, underlining that the days the government would nominate governor from Mogadishu is over.

Few months later after USA recognized his government, the president changed his heart toward this policy of forming regional administration when he stated publicly that the process of building regional administration in Jubbaland state was not approved by the Somali government and those who are trying to form state have no right to represent without getting approval or consulting with the government.

Later on when president visited in Minneapolis, Minnesota, he stated, in response to the accusation of his policy over the creation of regional administration,  that he did not say that Jubbaland people can’t establish their regional administration while accepting Hiiraan people to elect their own leadership.

Days later, back in Mogadishu after consulting the local elders, he changed his position again, this time, uttering that those who claimed they represent Jubbaland state can’t speak for the region and accused Kenyan government of interfering internal affair of Somalia by supporting that administration.

The fact on the ground is however that the people from lower, central Jubba and Gedo region are finalizing the creation of Jubbaland State following the completion of its constitution. They expect the president of the state and speaker of its parliament to be elected in the coming days.

Besides changing his position in regard of the upcoming states based on the advises he gets from local elders of Mogadishu, the President failed to even recognize the only two States – Punt land and Galmudug - participated actively in the roadmap process which ended the transitional government. These two states accepted to be part of the Somali federal government with understanding that reconciliation would continue and those states will run their affair until all the states to be member of the federal government are created based on the transitional constitution.

Finally, London protestors blamed the president of turning the capital city into clan enclave where the president, the governor and mayor and everyone else who has position worth mentioning are from the same clan as president. Instead of Mogadishu being capital city for all Somali people, it is became a city of one clan related to the president.

The elders of Mogadishu said publicly that the city belongs to them and they would not accept anyone saying the city is for all. Few people from the other areas who returned to Mogadishu witnessed the reality when they encountered those who occupied their property, telling them to leave or else. As result, those who returned to Mogadishu ended up either leaving or selling their property for whatever they were offered before they were forced to leave.

Few independent Medias reported the issues of public and private property occupied by internal displaced people who claimed now they own those properties since no one claimed for last twenty years or so. However, president did not even talk about that issues which is the basis of reconciliation and reclaiming Mogadishu as capital city of Somalia.

The closest he came to answering that question was when he stated in Minneapolis, Minnesota that Somali people should forget what happened before, and they should focus today otherwise they will miss tomorrow’s opportunity, which most of the people assumed that he meant people should forget their properties taken away in the past.  

Even local residents in Mogadishu accused the president of ignoring the security of the city, Mogadishu where recently reported targeted killing both the civilian brave enough to reclaim their property or journalists who tried to report the fact on the ground. The first day president was elected, he said his first priority one, two and three is safety, safety and safety of the capital and rest of the country and now it seems his first, second and third priority is obtaining financial aid of which there is no place secure enough to be invested, other than keeping it in the bank controlled by his ilk.

In order to move forward, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud needs to publicly state, without flip-flopping, his position relating to  reconciliation among Somalis, formation of the regional administration and the status of capital city where his own clan publicly declared the ownership of all in it, before Somali sovereign now recognized by IC is dealt again as transitional government.

Mohamed A Hussein
[email protected]


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