by Abdullahi H. Samoow
Thursday, August 20, 2020
Somalia is once again at the crossroads and on the brink of collapse. Somali people are mindful of what this means to them. It took 20+ years of civil war, devastation, lack of government, starvation and humiliation for the country to be where it is today. They fully comprehend the harsh realities of those times, the terrorism that traumatized the country, and many more disastrous events.
After enduring these challenging times, the Somali people, with the support of international partners who have rendered much-needed assistance in the form of humanitarian aid and peace-keeping troops, have gradually managed to bring stability to the country. But this is under grave threat by none other than the President and his inner circle in Villa Somalia.
President Farmaajo was elected to serve for a term of four years, with a mandate to restore peace and prosperity, finalize the draft constitution, revive the economy, continue the war against Al-Shabaab, hold elections on time, among other national priorities. But the one thing that was, and has always been the top priority was the importance of holding elections (preferably one-person-one-vote) on time without any delays.
Home and abroad, the Somali people initially welcomed him, had high expectations and optimism in his administration to succeed. After nearly four years in power, he is on the verge of plummeting Somalia into an ocean of political chaos, taking the country once again on the brink of collapse.
It is not a secret that Farmaajo and the leadership of the lower house of the Parliament on the basis of how they have handled the task of holding elections for parliamentarians later this year, and for presidential elections early next year are explicitly pursuing an unconstitutional term extension, against the will of the people, the opposition and the federal member states.
In December last year, both the upper house and the lower house of the Parliament passed a controversial electoral law allowing elections to be delayed if major events such as natural disasters, disease outbreaks, droughts and technical difficulties emerge, it is widely believed that Villa Somalia deliberately added that clause in order for Farmaajo to use it as an excuse to extend his term in office past February 2021.
Approximately four months is what remains on Farmaajo's tenure as president and Villa Somalia continues to insist on one-person-one-vote elections. It makes you wonder what in the world they are thinking. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to recognize that this model is untenable, considering current security issues, lack of political consensus and voter registration which can’t be fulfilled in the short remaining time. Not forgetting the commitment of this administration, the technical and logistical requirements for such polls to take place.
Bear in mind, the commission responsible for this enormous task resides in Villa Somalia. And it takes nearly $100 million to coordinate nationwide polls. They can't even get a proper place to operate from independently and without any interference from the political class. Yet they're all over the place, telling everyone that they can hold one-person-one-vote elections with less than five months to go. It is an insult to intuition.
It is obvious that Farmaajo is purposely sticking to an impractical plan to have a smokescreen for postponing the election and extending his term of office beyond his term of office. Opposition leaders, the federal Member States, have always maintained their stance that an extension would not be tolerated and that elections have to be conducted on schedule. They firmly warned Villa Somalia against it, which they say might lead to instability and turmoil.
Farmaajo is now playing a cat and mouse game with stakeholders, wasting everyone's time with the so-called Dhusamareb conference. First, he deceived the presidents of the federal member states and failed to honour an agreement he has reached with them in meeting held via Zoom. One of the key points of the agreement was to prohibit members of parliament and the leadership of the Parliament (backed by Villa Somalia) from passing critical laws without the consent and approval of the member states, Farmaajo agreed, only to make a U-turn literally hours later. And with that, the members of parliament proceeded to pass laws without consulting no one.
This was a definite indication that Farmaajo has no regard for separations of powers, no regard for federal members leaders and other stakeholders. His aim is to stay in power and it has been that way from the get-go by any means necessary, plain and simple.
Immediately after Farmaajo returned from Dhusamareb 'two' conference, the lower house of the Parliament dramatically ousted the prime minister Hassan A. Khaire from his post in just under 8 minutes! A move many believe was the work of Farmaajo and his inner circle. The removal of the prime minister has shown how careless the leadership of the Parliament are, as they are fully aware of the rules and procedures to be followed in order for a prime minister to be removed from office. This move also reveals the brutality of Farmaajo, who betrayed his prime minister of three and half years in a flash, scapegoating him all in exchange for an imaginary two-year term extension.
It is believed that this vote of no confidence, backed by Villa Somalia, came after the prime minister seemed to jump out of the Farmaajo train and made clear that he is in favour of elections taking place on schedule and to avoid any attempts of a term extension. As he put it "would cause political, constitutional and security crises" and showed signs that he is in favour of an indirect election model or a similar model used in the previous elections of 2016. His proposal unlike Farmaajo’s was to invite all the stakeholders to the table in order to reach a political consensus so that elections could take place on time.
That being said Khaire, however, screwed up his chance to make a lasting and meaningful impact while in office, choosing instead from the get-go to be Farmaajo's right-hand man until he was thrown helplessly under the bus.
The consequence of all these moves, is that the country does not have an executive government, and this cannot continue at this crucial time. There is an urgent need for a prime minister with the right intentions and the power to oversee peaceful elections and transition.
Farmaajo is at it again, attending Dhusamareb 'three'. He is there again to do political treachery and mischeive, and to set traps for the leaders of the member states. He is also attending the meeting to deceive the international partners into believing that he is sincere about these meetings and willing to compromise for the well-being of the country. He is not, and he has never been.
The international partners, who are the lifeline for Somalia and invested a lot of resources in the economy and in the fight against Al-Shabaab in support for the current administration, should drop their diplomatic niceties and play a firmer and more powerful role by slapping the bitter truth on the face of Farmaajo to prevent Somalia from sinking into turmoil. The international partners should ensure that all the stakeholders are given a say in the direction the country is taking and that elections are held on time.
In doing so, Somalia can be rescued from a certain collapse, and Farmaajo should not worry about his welfare after his term in office. He can go back to his previous profession (commissioner for the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority) or take an MP position which the constitution provides for.
Abdullahi H. Samoow