Two steps forward, two steps backward, Will Somalia ever cross a “bridge”
After two decades of civil war, Somalia is limping into the future.
The stabilisation process for Somalia – commonly known as the Road Map – seems to have yielded favourable results. The transitional period was successfully terminated with the endorsement of a provisional Constitution, nomination of Members of the Federal Parliament, election of new Speaker and new President.
But this is not the end of it. All indications do not suggest favourable omens ahead of the newly formed deferral institutions. And that is why I ask, the question above – will Somalia ever cross a”bridge”? I doubt and when in doubt, it is good advice to tell the truth.
In Somalia, whenever we take two steps forward, we take two steps backward. With this, we hardly gain ground to cross a “bridge”.
I am not an alarmist who jumps off the train even before it starts moving. But I cannot also figure out how a prey and predators can coexist peacefully in the same compartment.
Let me elaborate my point. To begin with, let’s have a glimpse on the difficult and the painful process that gave the birth to the new Parliament – which is the most important institution under the new constitutional dispensation.
Somali Traditional Elders – with help of professional Technical Selection Committee – strived decidedly to ensure qualified people with integrity are nominated to New Parliament.
The nominated MPs, in their turn, elected”Professor” Mohamed Sh. Osman Jawari as a speaker. Somali people over the world overwhelmingly hailed the election of Speaker Jawari as step taken to the right direction – how wrong were they! Innocent Somalis earnestly celebrated his victory over Professor Ali Khalif Galayr.
But I think Somalis overlooked an important historical fact about the man. You don’t need to conduct investigative background auditing of the man to know this. I will tell two incontestable facts that demonstrate the true colour of the new speaker.
First you may wonder why I put inverted commas on his title – Professor.
In most countries over the world, a Professor is a title reserved for highly accomplished and recognised academics at University. But this definition does not go well with Mr Jawari, who is neither a Philosophiae Doctor – PhD holder – nor an attained scholar. Incredibly, he does not even have a second decree.
Don’t get me wrong, there are few countries that call their primary or elementary teachers “Professors”. But Somalia does not belong to this league.
What is intriguing here therefore is his bizarre audacity to place this meritocratic title – Professor – before his names.
Second, Mr Jawari has never been a man of his own principles. By account and pedigree, he is known to be a faithful yes-man. He worked for Sayid Bare’s totalitarian regime in various capacities with fidelity. But history is not my concern now.
The man put a whammy on our heads when he returned the rejected criminals back into the Parliament, in what looked like a well-orchestrated and coordinated masterstroke. He overturned the reasonable verdict of the TSC by obtruding criminals into the Parliament.
There is no doubt that he hatched the plot with the two deposited magicians – the Sharifs. He compelled the new MPs to vote in for the warlords by show of hand in the Election Day. Ironically, who can vote in dissent against the powerful warlords of Mogadishu, right on their eyes? Who? It is like sending a goat to have a fair negotiation with a lion in his den – call it a suicide.
What is my point? I believe – the credibility of the new parliament, as it stands now, have suffered a major blow. With the feckless criminal warlords in the front raw, its decision will not be taken serious. And it may, at the end, lose legitimacy and functionality as the one preceded it.
Though minority, we all know that the warlords are not mere MPs. They are powerful demons that wield both political and financial influences. And they will definite exploit this important institution for their own benefits. That is why many believe that the new parliament is turned into the proverbial foxes that guarded the chicken coop.
I was among many Somalis who wanted change to take place in Villa Somalia. I am also pleased with the election victory for President Hassan Sh. Mohamoud – it was like a momentous victory long in the making.
President Hassan looks calm and composed. When he speaks, he embraces the common sense of every man. But the central question that comes to mind is – Will the former UNICEF Education Project Officer succeed to mend the fences or will he succumb to the myopic tribal gerrymandering around him?
I don’t want to make premature judgement about him but fact remains that his presidential bid and subsequent victory still remains a whimsical deed. He can’t even believe it by himself. He was never predicted by Somali political pundits – he just came out of the blue.
My take is that President Hassan has limited experience – if any – to lead a post-civil-war state. But this does not mean that he cannot succeed. Much depends on whom he picks for a Prime Minister.
President Hassan is under tremendous pressure from both within and outside. Tribal impostors in the Villa are pressuring him to pick a pliable sycophant for a PM – under the infamous Somali political stalking-horse “Ushaada nin aad ka qaadan kartid baa loo dhiibtaa”. Meaning:”it is a good advice to lend your stick to someone whom you can take it back from”.
Other influential external forces are also imposing suggestible characters on him. But what I don’t know is that whether Mr Hassan can be the exception that proves the rule. Will he see the future far into a distance as giraffe or will he yield to the pressure of myopic tribal advisors and external interest groups.
Let us wait and see whether his career builds or breaks on his first but crucial national assignment.
I hope President Hassan manages to help this limping nation to cross the point of no return.
By Said Faadi,
The author is topical commentator