By Heikal I. Kenneded
March 30, 2018
It is becoming political calamity in the Somali national banter to witness once again the disruptive season of politics epitomized in the debate of disrupting impeachment to overthrow the heads of the state, which relentlessly edges the country into a crisis mode. These past weeks the news was inundated with the heated debate to table a motion that would see the Speaker of the House Parliament, Mohamed Osman Jawari ousted from office, propelling the country into further political turmoil. The current political crisis is doing a huge damage to the country’s path towards stability. The saga of Somali leadership failure continues to galvanize the entire conversation, instead of finding solutions for other paramount problems, such as finding sustainable security and economic development. Neither the government nor the parliamentarians have issued any concrete guidance on how to resolve this political gridlock, instead of viciously campaigning behind the scenes. In lieu of this latest political calamity, the government needs to clearly weigh in the political risks of calling for impeachment of the Speaker, which might back fire in the long run.
Dozens of lawmakers are demanding the embattled Speaker Jawari to resign, but he declined to follow through and is asking for an up and down vote. Thus, Speaker Jawari’s recent claim that the current government is behind his impeachment because he would not sign ominous documents that would have put the country in real jeopardy. Most people assume this is linked in some strange way to the recent ruling of the Somali parliament to banning the Dubai-based DP World Company from operating in the country. Nevertheless, there’s no doubt whatsoever that the government is deeply involved in this latest impeachment of the Speaker and thus sponsoring many of the MP signatories, including several notable ministers who are also members of parliament. The truth is obvious; however, this is the season of Somalia’s cash-strapped MPs to make some money out of allegedly minor disagreement between the Speaker of the Parliament and the Prime Minister.
While there’s still slight popular support for President Farmajo and Prime Minister Kheyre’s government, albeit perhaps the desire for less corrupt government than in the past, how this government fares in the end will depend on the outcome of this latest impeachment of the Speaker. In fact, Speaker Jawari’s political path has always been smoothed by the staunch support that he received from the International community, which is the true engineer of Somalia’s current political resurgence from the civil war. No wonder, most of the International community recently denounced this latest political instability of Somalia’s government, warning this latest contentious impeachment process as it has the potential that it could further throw back the country’s democratic future into the towel.
What does the future hold?
A parliament vote to impeach the Speaker requires a simple majority of 184 votes. Given the untested allegiance of the current members of parliament and of course that might split into two groups of pro and con of the impeachment, which is far from certain. And since no one knows when that could happen, many political analysts say the government should focus on a definite opportunity they'll have to remove Speaker Jawari from office - the 2020 country-wide elections. Though, most of the ardent MPs pushing hard of this latest effort to impeach the Speaker have failed to clearly articulate the main reason of his impeachment. One complaint is the concentration of too much power in the hands of the Speaker. But the real question is, if Speaker Jawari is impeached, then who’s going to replace him, a puppet of the government that will tilt the real balance of the government institutions – the executive and the legislative power. This will definitely have far reaching consequences that will impact the 2020 elections of one-man one-vote.
The real tragedy about Somali politics is that every time that you think things might be heading in the right direction and the fractured system of governance is on the mend, an implausible drawback like this impeachment comes along that puts at risk everything else that has been achieved in the recent past. This is an indication of political immaturity and egregious selfishness of the country’s so called politicians, who care little about the future of the young generation that lost everything during the last three decades and out of desperation risk their lives either taking to the high seas or joining the ilk of Al-Shabab terrorist group. But in one way, it’s no surprise to see the pervasiveness of corruption in the country, where from politicians to businessmen and from religious men to educators are bound nothing else but the color of money. Indeed, the country came a long way: from callous warlords selling the entire country in wholesale, from tribalist leaders who run the country as though a clan-state, to corrupt governments looting the country left and right and then flee to overseas as soon as they’re voted out of office and to finally a popular government that takes for granted the trust and support of the populace and continuously misuses its political capital for the wrong means to destabilize the country.
It’s one thing to say, the rookie government of President Farmajo and Prime Minister Kheyre was bound to make several major political mistakes in their first year in order to achieve their mandate to correct most of the past mistakes and eradicate the pervasiveness of corruption in the country. However, it’s completely another matter to see them repeating the misguided tactics of the past governments of using impeachment as legitimate tool to destabilize the country, not to mention playing down or failing to address major grievances of the populace, such as finding a lasting security, creating jobs, and access to good education and health care system. These grievances become more pressing as each day sees the unraveling of wasted political capital on unnecessary impeachment motions that galvanize the entire political elite, instead of tirelessly working in resolving the country’s many pressing needs. There’s a cold wind of reality check blowing through optimist and pessimist territory alike, the Somali leadership is doomed as long as they fail to compromise in order to put the greater good of the country before their selfish interests.
Ironically, what’s most dispiriting is the tone deaf quietness of President Farmajo and Prime Minister Kheyre’s government who are acting as if it is business as usual, despite the current political catastrophe facing the country, as they trudge into their second year. Most people believe few facts have changed in regards of the country’s political fragility to go back to its fractured state of unruliness. President Farmajo at the outset of his political campaign promised that his government will bring to an absolutely end the destabilizing impeachment factor that became rampant in past governments and brought them to the brink of their collapse and plunged the country into the precipice. Now that things are unravelling in the way they are and the President seems to be taking a backseat attitude of “che sara, sara!” attitude, it’s quite disappointing to see another broken promise from another politician.
Heikal I. Kenneded