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President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud first two years in office: Leading with Courage Amidst Opposition's Attempts to Derail Progress

By Mohamed Omar Hashi
Thursday 23rd May, 2024



Somalia, a land scarred by decades of turmoil, political unrest, and unrelenting violence, now finds itself at a critical crossroads. Under the leadership of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, a beacon of hope has emerged for a nation once on the brink of disintegration. President Mohamud stepped into office inheriting a country fragmented by political infighting, economically crippled, and besieged by a persistent threat of terrorism that had morphed into a shadow state within its borders.

In the face of these monumental challenges, President Mohamud embarked on a courageous mission to guide Somalia towards a new dawn of stability, growth, and peace. The first two years of his presidency have been a testament to unwavering determination and resilience. Navigating through treacherous political landscapes and economic pitfalls, his administration has achieved significant milestones, igniting a flicker of hope in the hearts of millions.

This article explores the remarkable journey of President Mohamud’s tenure, shedding light on the formidable obstacles he faced, the innovative strategies he implemented, and the profound impact of his leadership on Somalia’s future. From revitalising the economy to bolstering security, his efforts have begun to transform Somalia's narrative, painting a picture of optimism and renewal in a land long shadowed by despair.

POLITICAL REFORMS: A STEP TOWARDS DEMOCRATIC STABILITY

President Mohamud's tenure has been defined by the Herculean task of navigating Somalia through the turbulent waters of political strife. The country's challenges are as diverse as they are daunting, with clan rivalries, insurgency, and institutional fragility threatening to unravel any progress towards peace and development. Yet, amidst this tumult, President Mohamud stands as a steadfast advocate for unity and reconciliation. His unwavering dedication to inclusivity underscores a profound understanding that sustainable peace can only be achieved when all segments of society are embraced and empowered.

Somalia, long plagued by political turmoil and instability, has taken a significant stride towards democratic consolidation with recent amendments to its constitution. After nearly a decade of review, these changes gained traction in late 2023, reflecting a collective effort to address entrenched disputes and power struggles that have hindered progress. The reforms, spearheaded by President Mohamud's administration, mark a pivotal moment in Somali politics. They are designed to confront the constitutional ambiguities that have historically fueled tensions between presidents and prime ministers, paving the way for a more harmonious and functional governance framework.

Central to these reforms are initiatives aimed at fortifying democratic institutions and promoting transparency. Electoral reforms have been introduced to ensure that future elections are conducted freely and fairly, laying the groundwork for a more legitimate and representative government. Additionally, decentralisation efforts seek to empower local authorities, allowing for more responsive governance tailored to the diverse needs of Somalia's regions. Crucially, the government has also prioritised measures to combat corruption and impunity, recognizing the corrosive impact these phenomena have on state institutions and public trust. By bolstering accountability mechanisms and enforcing anti-corruption laws, Somalia aims to foster a culture of integrity and accountability within its political apparatus.

Internationally, President Mohamud's diplomatic efforts have been instrumental in positioning Somalia on the path towards regional integration and economic prosperity. The nation's admission to the East African Community (EAC) under his leadership signifies a strategic move towards closer ties with neighbouring countries. Moreover, the appointment of a Somali national as the Deputy Executive Secretary of Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) represents a significant milestone in Somalia's diplomatic trajectory, enhancing the nation's influence and engagement in regional affairs. Through astute diplomacy and visionary leadership, President Mohamud is paving the way for Somalia to reclaim its rightful place on the global stage.

SECURITY REFORMS: A PATH TOWARDS STABILITY

In Somalia, security challenges have been a persistent barrier to peace and development for decades. The country has long been plagued by the scourge of terrorism and insurgency, with extremist groups like Al-Shabaab wreaking havoc and instilling fear among civilians. President Mohamud's dedication to tackling these security threats head-on has been nothing short of commendable. His steadfast commitment to strengthening the Somali security forces and collaborating closely with international allies demonstrates a resolute determination to safeguard the nation's citizens from the grip of terrorism.

President Mohamud's efforts have not only focused on military tactics but also on addressing the root causes of extremism. He has prioritised initiatives aimed at promoting social cohesion, economic development, and good governance, recognizing that these factors play a crucial role in preventing the spread of radical ideologies. By investing in education, job creation, and community engagement programs, President Mohamud has worked tirelessly to undercut the appeal of extremist narratives and build a more resilient society capable of withstanding the influence of terrorist groups.

Despite facing immense challenges, President Mohamud's leadership has yielded tangible results in improving security and stability across Somalia. Through strategic operations and intelligence-driven measures, his administration has managed to reclaim territory from militant control, disrupt terrorist networks, and provide a safer environment for ordinary Somalis to thrive. While much work remains to be done, President Mohamud's unwavering resolve serves as a beacon of hope for a brighter, more secure future for Somalia and its people.

Somalia's recent achievement in lifting the arms embargo under President Mohamud's leadership signifies a milestone in the nation's journey towards stability. This development not only reflects international recognition of Somalia's progress in bolstering security and governance but also provides the country with the opportunity to further strengthen its security apparatus and combat emerging threats effectively. The removal of the arms embargo heralds a new era of cooperation and confidence in Somalia's ability to navigate towards lasting peace and prosperity under President Mohamud's steadfast leadership.

Moreover, President Mohamud's compassionate leadership has extended beyond security concerns to encompass addressing the humanitarian crisis afflicting Somalia. Recognizing the plight of vulnerable segments of society exacerbated by conflict, drought, and displacement, his administration has spearheaded initiatives to provide aid, alleviate suffering, and rebuild infrastructure. This proactive stance underscores a commitment to upholding the dignity and well-being of all Somalis, even in the midst of significant challenges.

ECONOMIC REFORMS: PATH TO PROSPERITY

Somalia, facing deeply rooted economic challenges, has grappled with issues such as widespread poverty, high unemployment rates, and inadequate infrastructure. President Mohamud's tenure was a turning point in Somalia's economic trajectory, marked by fervent efforts to tackle these obstacles head-on. Recognizing the need for a multifaceted approach, his administration focused on policy reforms and targeted investments in critical sectors to drive sustainable economic development.

A significant milestone achieved under President Mohamud's leadership was the successful completion of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. This accomplishment signifies a crucial step towards economic stability and prosperity for Somalia. Central to these reforms was a commitment to fiscal consolidation, aimed at enhancing revenue collection mechanisms and streamlining government spending. This approach was essential for instilling confidence among investors and laying the foundation for sustainable economic growth.
President Mohamud's efforts extended beyond debt relief and fiscal discipline to encompass comprehensive reforms aimed at fostering a conducive business environment and reducing Somalia's dependence on foreign aid. Recognizing the pivotal role of entrepreneurship, his administration implemented measures to streamline bureaucratic procedures, reduce regulatory burdens, and tackle corruption. These initiatives aimed to empower Somalis to create jobs, generate wealth, and contribute to the nation's economic prosperity. President Mohamud's unwavering commitment to economic revitalization underscores his belief in entrepreneurship as a catalyst for inclusive growth and poverty reduction, setting Somalia on a path towards a brighter future.

THREATS FROM OUTSIDE: THE CONTINUED FOREIGN MEDDLING IN SOMALIA

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud's administration has been marked by a determined effort to protect and reinforce Somali sovereignty amidst a backdrop of historical foreign interventions and ongoing geopolitical challenges in the Horn of Africa. Central to his foreign policy is a robust stance on self-determination, emphasising the need for a Somalia-led approach to peace and development. This includes enhancing the capabilities of Somali security forces to minimise dependency on external military support, such as that provided by AMISOM, thereby increasing national control over security and governance. Diplomatically, Hassan Sheikh has skillfully navigated relationships with major global powers and regional actors, aiming to balance international interests while safeguarding Somalia from becoming a pawn in larger geopolitical games. His administration’s proactive diplomatic engagements and economic strategies are designed to foster sustainable growth and stability, ensuring that Somalia remains autonomous and resilient against external influences.

President Mohamud's administration has faced formidable challenges in navigating Somalia's regional landscape. Central to these challenges is Somalia’s enduring battle against foreign interference, with recent territorial disputes highlighting these issues. Most notable is Ethiopia's interest in establishing a military base on Somali soil, which Somalia views as a direct threat to its sovereignty. In response, President Mohamud has employed a combination of diplomatic efforts and strategic alliances to address these concerns. Emphasising dialogue and adherence to international law, Somalia has sought support from allies like Turkey, culminating in a recent defence and economic cooperation agreement aimed at bolstering Somalia's defence capabilities and fostering economic development.

Despite ongoing challenges, Somalia's proactive approach signals its unwavering commitment to upholding sovereignty and advancing peace and stability in the region. Through strategic partnerships and diplomatic engagement, President Mohamud's administration aims to navigate regional complexities while promoting Somalia's national interests and aspirations for a prosperous future. By prioritising self-reliance in security and governance, and fostering international partnerships based on mutual respect and shared goals, Somalia is positioning itself as a resilient and autonomous nation, capable of steering its own path amidst the shifting geopolitical dynamics of the Horn of Africa.

THREATS FROM WITHIN: THE OPPOSITION'S DESTRUCTIVE PURSUIT OF DESTABILISATION

The opposition's unyielding quest for destabilisation without merit poses a grave peril to Somalia's hard-fought democratic advancements. Rather than offering constructive feedback and participating in meaningful discussions to address concerns, they appear fixated on perpetuating turmoil and discord. Such behaviour not only undermines the credibility of democratic institutions but also threatens to drag the nation back into the tumultuous depths of conflict and uncertainty, a place it has struggled vigorously to escape. The opposition's actions, often marked by incendiary rhetoric and baseless allegations, serve only to erode public trust and destabilise the political landscape, further complicating Somalia's path to peace and prosperity.

A troubling aspect lies in the dearth of accountability within opposition circles. The conduct of certain opposition figures smacks of entitlement, as if they consider themselves immune to scrutiny. This lack of accountability not only erodes public confidence but also fosters a culture of impunity that can have dangerous repercussions for the democratic process. For example, the actions of certain opposition factions raise serious concerns regarding their commitment to national sovereignty and the well-being of the Somali people. Their apparent disregard for accountability suggests a willingness to exploit their positions for personal gain rather than the public good, further undermining Somalia's fragile democracy.

The allegations that these opposition factions are colluding with or acting as agents of foreign governments is particularly alarming. Rather than prioritising the interests of their own nation, these factions appear to be entangled in alliances with foreign powers, notably Ethiopia, a country known for its historical meddling in Somali affairs. This collaboration not only undermines Somalia's autonomy but also poses significant threats to its security. By cozying up to external actors, these opposition groups betray the trust of the Somali populace and hinder the country's progress towards stability and self-determination. Their willingness to serve foreign interests over national interests is a profound betrayal that jeopardises Somalia's sovereignty and its people's aspirations for a democratic future.

This nefarious entanglement with foreign powers reveals a disturbing readiness to sacrifice national interests for personal or political gain. Instead of fostering genuine reconciliation and development, their actions sow seeds of discord and perpetuate a cycle of instability, ultimately impeding Somalia's democratic aspirations. The opposition's foreign alliances not only weaken Somalia's position on the global stage but also invite external manipulation, threatening to turn the nation into a pawn in regional power struggles. This dangerous game of foreign allegiance must be called out and condemned for the threat it poses to the nation's sovereignty and democratic progress.

The opposition's failure to articulate a coherent and unified vision for Somalia's future further compounds the conundrum. In the absence of a clear roadmap or defined objectives, their criticisms ring hollow, devoid of substantive content. Mere opposition without tangible alternatives or proposals risks plunging Somalia back into the abyss of chaos and instability it has fought so hard to escape. If the opposition aspires to be taken earnestly as a political force, they must furnish concrete solutions rather than merely opposing the status quo. Without a constructive agenda, their actions amount to little more than obstructionism, hindering rather than helping Somalia's progress.

DEFENDING SOVEREIGNTY: SOMALIA’S HISTORIC DEFENCE PACT WITH TURKEY

In the face of Ethiopia's brazen expansionism, Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has stood as a beacon of unwavering national sovereignty and resilience. By signing a defence pact with Turkey, Somalia not only reinforces its commitment to safeguarding its territorial integrity but also sends a resounding message to those who seek to encroach upon its sovereignty. The historic agreement underscores Somalia's determination to defend its coastline against any external threats, particularly from neighbouring nations attempting to undermine its sovereignty.

President Mohamud's decision to forge a strategic alliance with Turkey, a NATO member and staunch supporter of Somalia's development, is a testament to his astute leadership and dedication to securing the nation's future. With Turkey's expertise and support, Somalia will not only bolster its defence capabilities but also rebuild its naval forces, ensuring that its territorial waters remain protected from any encroachment or aggression. As tensions escalate in the Horn of Africa, Somalia's alliance with Turkey stands as a formidable barrier against any attempts to undermine its sovereignty or territorial integrity.

At a time when Somalia faces unprecedented challenges, President Mohamud's bold stance against Ethiopia's expansionist ambitions reaffirms the nation's unwavering commitment to defending its sovereignty at all costs. The defence pact with Turkey not only strengthens Somalia's defence capabilities but also serves as a rallying cry for all Somalis to unite in defence of their homeland. As Somalia charts its course towards peace and prosperity, President Mohamud's visionary leadership will continue to inspire the nation to stand firm against any threats to its sovereignty, ensuring a brighter and more secure future for generations to come.

CONCLUDING REMARKS

In conclusion, Somalia's journey under President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud's leadership reflects a nation committed to overcoming multifaceted challenges and realising its aspirations for peace, stability, and prosperity. From the completion of critical security roadmaps to lifting the arms embargo, Somalia has demonstrated resilience and determination in forging ahead despite formidable obstacles. The admission into the East African Community (EAC) and the appointment of a Somali national as the Deputy Executive Secretary of Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) further underscore Somalia's growing influence and proactive role in regional affairs. These achievements, however, do not exist in isolation; they are complemented by ambitious reform measures aimed at strengthening democratic institutions, revitalising the economy, and enhancing security. Despite facing opposition and regional challenges, Somalia's trajectory remains one of hope and progress, fueled by a collective commitment to building a brighter future for all its citizens.

While Somalia's progress is commendable, it is not without its complexities and criticisms. The journey towards stability and prosperity is marked by challenges, including tensions with neighbouring Ethiopia and the need for a more constructive opposition. Nevertheless, Somalia's proactive approach, strategic collaborations, and commitment to reform serve as pillars of resilience in navigating these obstacles. As the nation continues on its path of transformation, the support of international partners, coupled with domestic unity and determination, will be crucial in realising Somalia's vision for a peaceful, prosperous, and sovereign nation. Through sustained efforts and unwavering resolve, Somalia is poised to overcome its challenges and emerge as a beacon of hope and progress in the Horn of Africa and beyond.



Mohamed Omar Hashi was a Member of the Transitional Federal Parliament of Somalia, and holds an M.A. in International Security Studies from the University Of  Leicester.  

E-mail: [email protected]    
Twitter: @mohamedohashi  




 





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