7/19/2024
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Somalia plays second fiddle to Djibouti again: Hon. Fawzia Yusuf Adam's candidacy to AU


Monday June 24, 2024


In the recent allegations made by Hon Fawsia Yusuf Adam about her candidacy to the African Union Chairwoman or leader - who stated that the Somali Government's leadership requested she pull out of the contest in favour of the Djibouti candidacy even after she received verbal and formal assurances from the Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. This incident reveals far more substantial shortcomings about Somalia's place in the Horn of Africa and beyond. It demonstrates a lack of confidence and ambition to protect our national interests. This is not the first time this has occurred under this administration. In October 2023, the Somalia government requested that candidate Hon Marwa Abdi Bashir, another woman, withdraw from the International Parliamentary Union contest held in Angola in favour of Tanzania's candidacy.

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In these particular allegations, one has no issue with Djibouti securing their own core national interest through these African Union elections. This is to be commended strategically and politically. However, what has been a pattern of behaviour after the Arta Somali Reconciliation Conference in 2000 is the expectation Somalia should always play the victim or the subordinate entity to Djibouti in the face of its own unique challenges. This is not the first time Djibouti has pulled this political trick or card against Somalia's interest in the international arena politically and economically. One may understand Somalia may well be under an indirect trusteeship through a United Nations Security Council Resolution. However, I was not expecting Somalia to play second fiddle or forfeit its national interest to a regional government that has its own core political and strategic interest at heart. I can also tell you that Djibouti is not striving or seeking this seat of power to safeguard Somalia's interests at the table.

In the World Bank's recent Somalia briefing in February 2024, the prevailing developmental challenges Somalia faces are enormous and require intelligent policies in the areas of industrial economics, infrastructure, and diplomatic outreach, both politically and economically. Rebuilding Somalia's energy, ports, roads, education and health sectors should be a priority for policymakers. "Only one-third of men and 12% of women participate in the labour market. Almost half of those employed are living below the poverty line, indicating that jobs are of low productivity. Therefore, accelerated momentum in building institutions and developing resilience is fundamental for growth, poverty reduction, and transition from fragility" (World Bank February 2024). Furthermore, according to Somalia's own National Economic Council, lack of infrastructure, standardization, trade barriers, and friction in cross-border trade have been highlighted as a contributory factor in Somalia's under-development (Somalia National Economic Council March 2022). 

On the above backdrop, to have a Somalia candidacy leading the African Union is a timely intervention that will serve the strategic needs of Somalia and the continent. The key objectives of the African Union is to implement the Agenda 2063 infrastructure in the area of energy, transport, road, information and technology. It also has the mandate to enhances cooperation and development in the area of economic development, trade industry as well as peace and security. 

With the enormous challenges Somalia faces today, one needs to ask oneself: Who urgently needs this candidacy, Somalia or Djibouti? In my opinion, probably both countries. However, do you see the error of polltical judgments our leaders are making in forfeiting a diplomatic leverage and opportunity at the cost of 15 million people's urgent needs.

This incident or allegations demonstrate a lack of coordinated development agenda and political vision aligned with Somalia's key priorities. It has also shown a Somalia that is playing second fiddle to others at the cost of Somalia and its people. It is time for a paradigm shift in Somalia's politics, away from minimal horse trading to a coordinated progressive agenda with foresight that puts Somalia's interest at every platform locally, regionally and internationally to serve our common interest. No doubt, Djibouti is a brotherly nation. However, they will not serve Somalia's interests when they matter most. Our needs are urgent; every opportunity represents a tool to move Somalia from fragility to recovery.  With this incident, It seems we have dropped the ball again at our own costs, politically and economically.


Mohamed Ibrahim, BA/MSc from the London School of Economics and Political Science, is a London-based writer and social justice campaigner. He can be reached on X (formerly Twitter) at @Mi_shiine.



 





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