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Somalia: A Country with Failed Leadership

by Naima Osman
Tuesday September 13, 2022

Over the past 32 years, Somali elites, politicians, educators, elders, and the public at large were seeking to find a stable Somalia that is at peace with itself. All attempts have failed to deliver a tangible and lasting solution. Renewed clan tensions and robbery of government meager resources dominated the news.

 Most politicians run for an office to accumulate wealth. They have no mercy on the plight of the people. The root cause of the entire leadership failure is related to the culture of nominating unqualified people to lead government institutions.  

Appointing bad people in leadership positions is endemic in Somalia and is something that needs to be addressed openly. This was bad in Hassan Sheikh’s first term as president, and it got worse with Farmajo and is getting substandard with Hassan Sheikh’s second term again. President Farmajo had a bad taste in choosing the right person for the right position. He made big mistakes that obviously tarnished his leadership. The nomination of Mr. Kheyre, a cone artist as a PM, and BAAHANE as his second PM were very bad choices. Also, Fahad Yasin, a controversial figure as the President’s closest ally has equally damaged his presidency.   Without these three characters, Farmajo’s presidency may have taken an upward trajectory.

Mr. Kheyre was in the office longer than any PM in the country. He was arrogant, corrupt, insecure, and a hypocrite. As a former NGO head, he was a good salesman. He has stolen lots of money and committed office abuses.   After losing a vote of confidence in the parliament, Farmajo again chose the wrong person, Mr. Rooble as a PM.  

Later the public found out that Mr. Rooble was chosen for his incompetency. The man was in the office for less than 2 years and now owns three-million-dollar houses.  The amount of cash he accumulated before leaving the office is estimated to be in the millions of US Dollars. During his tenure in the office, literally, everything was ON SALE.

Still, no one has the guts to question his misconduct in the office.  He is still seeking other opportunities to loot the country further. Corruption is rampant in Somalia; however, his behavior was daylight robbery. But then who is to be blamed, is it the 4.5 power sharing formula or President Farmajo or the lack of a government system that has checks and balances, or all the above? It is hard to fight corruption when the people who are entrusted to be custodians of the rule of law are the ones who break all the laws. 

The Past 4 months

Let us do a deep look at what happened in the past 4 months since the election of President Hassan Sheikh. One thing that all analysts agree on is that Mr. Hassan is the most experienced politician in the country. He has been in the office for four and half years before; was in the opposition for the past 5 years and has never left Somalia. It is an impressive qualification if experience matters.

However, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud acted as someone who has never been to office and does not understand the needs of Somalia. He has nominated a PM, a decent man for sure, but has never held even a low-level office. Then he put together a cabinet made of political activists with no single technocrat. It either shows that he doesn’t care about the needs of the country, or he seems to be a little bit out of touch, or both. There is zero chance that this cabinet will meet the expectations of the Somali people. But since there is no accountability, their time in the office will be just a waste.

The President repeatedly said that he is determined to fight al-Shabaab but hasn’t shared his security strategy with the public. His controversial move to arm clan militias in the fight against al-Shabaab has some success in liberating areas under al-Shabaab. But some people believe it is a risky effort considering the clan tensions in the country.  

All in all, the country is facing political, social, economic, and security crises that must be tackled collectively. Without establishing a better working relationship with the regional states, it will be almost impossible to win the war with al-Shabaab and move forward with the debt relief agenda, which is crucial to getting the infrastructure investment that the country needs badly.

The NCC meeting  

President Hassan M Sheikh has called for an NCC meeting, which opened on Sunday, September 11, 2022. This is a very decisive meeting and could bring political stability and strengthen the relationship between the FGS and FMS.   The President must demonstrate trust to the regional presidents to kick off his ambitious agenda of fighting Al-Shabaab. Lots can be achieved in this meeting depending on how the President handles himself.  The meeting should be under his control and should not let Damul-Jadid elements overshadow his presence.  If he behaves genuinely, then presumably Somalia will be heading on the right trajectory. The real concern is, however, that the President is heading to the UN General Assembly in a few days’ time and might be only interested in the photo op, if this is the case, then the NCC meeting will be a loss of opportunities. Nevertheless, the meeting was concluded on Monday afternoon and a vague communique was released detailing issues agreed upon. Its practical outcome is to be seen in the next few months.

Moving forward

Considering the political, economic, social, and security status of the country, lots of things are on the plate that must be accomplished to save the country from collapsing further. These four years of Hassan Sheikh will determine the future of the country. The president can either be the savior of the country or be remembered as the man who buried and destroyed the hopes and aspirations of millions of Somalis.

The election of the Speaker of the parliament and his deputies was a disaster.  The worst among them is the Speaker and the first deputy. Both act as tyrants. They have shown they can’t even chair the assembly’s regular meetings effectively. The parliament’s leadership is essential in tackling major legislation issues. The speaker is a leader who is only enjoying the perks of the speakership but has zero capacity to run parliamentary matters.

The parliamentarians should seek his replacement, but it must be done with good intentions in mind, i.e., attempting to improve the capacity of the speakership. Swapping him with another individual with his capacity level will be insanity.  Equally, the deputy speaker should be removed from the office- she is a shame to the Somali women. Moreover, a close collaboration between the legislative and executive organs should be launched to map the nation’s priorities.  


The election of the Speaker of the parliament and his deputies was a disaster.


The parliament should play a key role in the completion of the constitution. The constitution can be finalized without Somaliland joining Somalia.  Indeed, in 1788, the US constitution was ratified in the absence of most of the States.  This is doable in Somalia as well. Waiting for Somaliland is a waste of time and is hijacking the future political certainty of Somalia.

 The formation of the constitutional court, the upcoming election, and reforming the justice system and security sectors of Somalia are key agendas of the current government. Proper leadership is required to achieve all these goals. In today’s modern world, trust is a very expensive commodity and it’s hard to earn it.  Without building trust, it will be hard to achieve meaningful results.  The first term of Mr. Hassan Sheikh was a total disaster; his second term started with uncertainty and confusion.  So far leadership failure is evident, but he has still time to reverse the trajectory of his presidency.  Nevertheless, it is important to give the president a chance to lead the country. It is too early to cry wolf.


Naima Osman
[email protected]



 





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