To be fair, President Hassan has inherited enormous problems. These problems include: a fragmented society, a bankrupted country, needy people, and individuals, groups and rogue elements who are so determined to win against the others through zero sum game.
Early 1991 when the Somali Government has crumpled piece by piece and the regime has vacated the power and many Somali analysts have rushed to conclude that the Somali misfortune will end and new era will start for Somalia. Unfortunately, an aimless Somali civil war has started and Somalia entered into a new era of chaos, death and destruction that never seen in Somalia. The analysts have been proven to be wrong.
Over the last twenty 22 years, the Somali people were actively and desperately showing their hunger and crave to find a new messiah to save them from lawless, anarchy, and humiliation. As a result they went through eras of warlordism, Islamism, and mixture of all groups. Unfortunately, nothing works well for them.
The epicentre of the Somali conflict, over the years, has been the Somali capital Mogadishu – a city that I vividly remember its tranquillity, peace and prosperity. Because of the magnitude of Mogadishu problems, many people were in the view that a leader from Mogadishu has to emerge from within to manage and mend Mogadishu. It was this view plus the Qatar’s Gas-dollar, as many people believe, that helps Hassan Sheikh to emerge as a leader in September, 2012. Hassan is relatively young; he is from Mogadishu and he has been in Mogadishu since the beginning of the Somali civil war and he was not an armed warlord. So, he was seen by many people, both in Somalia and overseas, to be the best social-doctor to treat the Somali patients because he can easily diagnose their particular illness and ailments.
To be fair, President Hassan has inherited enormous problems. These problems include: a fragmented society, a bankrupted country, needy people, and individuals, groups and rogue elements who are so determined to win against the others through zero sum game. But the job description of the position that he applied has clearly explains the task that he has to face. And as a result, it is the applicant’s responsibility to find how to explore ways and means to heal and help the clients (Somalis) to recover.
Most people believe the president’s priorities should be, as a head of State, to bring the pieces (Somalia) together, by travelling around the country and sit with the local leaders, Somali elders and the public in general, where security permits, to wage a reconciliation campaign in the country, to take a convincing and clear position about the occupied properties in Mogadishu, and recognise skilfully and sensitively the victims of the civil war and its consequences without blaming anyone at this stage.
On the political aspect, the public expected from the president to observe, from distance, the work of the executive members (the prime minister and his team) and the legislatures to ascertain that they are discharging their responsibility according to the law of the land.
As enshrined in the constitution, the president was supposed to advocate the implementation of the federal system all over the country, and also speed up the formation of the Upper House. Additionally, it was his responsibility to detect and prevent any social and political issues that could antagonise, incite or alienate any section of the society. Moreover, Hassan is expected by the people to deter any signs that may lead the country back to the path of the past.
Unfortunately, it seems, the president has other priorities and the ship is not heading the right direction at the moment. The first crack appears in Kismayo after his lieutenants fail to convince their audience. According to the audience, the messengers were not authorised to modify the message and the audience are told either to take or leave the message. The audience choose the latter.
What went wrong?
Briefly, the president fail to address what the Somali people were expected from him such as reaching out the public, addressing the occupied property in his backyard, remaining the leader of the State, but not the leader of the Government, and safeguarding the constitution of the country. Similarly, the president fails to deter any action that may antagonise, incite or alienate any section of the society. Kismayo is case in point.
This political fiasco in Kismayo is based on article 49 (1) of the constitution which stipulates: 49 (1) The number and boundaries of the Federal Member States shall be determined by the House of the People of the Federal Parliament. In this case, the government is either ignoring or misreading the message. In the same article 49 (5) and 49 (6) have rules as follows: 49 (5) Federal Member State boundaries shall be based on the boundaries of the administrative regions as they existed before 1991. Additionally, the following article said: 49(6) Based on a voluntary decision, two or more regions may merge to form a Federal Member State. In other words, if the boundaries already existed there is no need to re-invent the wheels and draw borders (see the Somali regional map). Therefore, Lower Jubba, Central Jubba, and Gedo region have the legitimacy to form their State, if we are respecting the determination of the people and the existence of the borders. On the other side of the coin, one should assume rationally under the circumstance of the country anything that may bring peace and stability in any particular part of Somalia should be welcomed. Ironically, Somali government allowed foreign forces to come into our country to protect us from our brothers and in the process kill in higher number. But one entity called Jubbaland and Gedo cannot have a functional State Government. Moreover surely, one may argue the possibilities to accommodate some kind of discrepancies in a system, if at the end; the system will bring some kind of stability and peace, where the most expensive item in the Somali context is peace.
Besides, our president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was not elected according to the constitution and his legitimacy as a president can be challenged legally under the constitution. But we all closed our eyes and ears just to have a government that can work for us. Unfortunately, the president and his team did not get it. The president’s election discrepancies have been clearly explained by Issa Farah in his recent popular thesis (Somalia Federalism: Achievements, Challenges and Opportunities). Issa1 writes, “Our president has been elected by the House of the People only instead of both houses of the Parliament as clearly stipulated by Article 89(1) of the Federal Constitution. The Article states that “[T]he House of the Federal Parliament shall elect the President of the Federal Republic of Somalia in a joint session, presided over by the Speaker of the House of the People of the Federal Parliament.” It further states in Section 2 of this article that “a minimum of two-thirds (2/3) of the members of each House of the Federal Parliament must be present when electing the President of the Federal Republic of Somalia.” Section 3 and 5 further state that the presidential “Candidatures must be proposed to the joint session of the Houses of the Federal Parliament” and that “every presidential candidate has to declare his candidacy to the Houses of the Parliament and shall present election programme to the Federal Parliament.” In addition, Article 71(d) states the Upper House “participates in the elections of the President of the Federal Republic in accordance of Article 89”. Therefore, if the Somali people are not looking the big picture anyone or any group can question and challenge legally against Hassan’s presidency, as he is not elected according to the Somali constitution. Furthermore, consequently his Prime Minister will be unconstitutional Prime Minister according to the applied process.
Despite all these legal issues on their side and the patience of the people to avoid challenging against them, the president and his team are so adamant to deny the rights of the Jubbaland and Gedo inhabitants to form their State according to the constitution. The government is having problems to reconcile with one phrase in an article even though the Somali people have reconciled with articles and sub-articles of the constitution for the sake of the nation.
Obviously, the president, his Prime Minster and most ministers are not fully equipped to lead a nation that require to be led by visionaries, open, flexible, just, skilled and accommodating team who are capable to lead the country from corner to corner.
Unfortunately, I may conclude, the man that we have celebrated for his election seems to be not the messiah that we were expecting Mogadishu to deliver.
Omar Mohamud Farah (Dhollawaa)