Unlike the President and the Speakers of both Houses of Parliament who are mute or ambiguous about the expected elections, I welcome the Prime Minister’s position on the elections that are scheduled to take place at the end of the current government’s mandate. The Parliament has lost its chance to address this issue and I am afraid it is too little for the Honorable Somali MPs and Senators to resolve the issue in ten months.
However, I respectfully disagree with the PM that it is the executive’s job to design the election in any way or form except preparing security [that is not meant to crush political opponents] for election. The Electoral Commission (EC) with full independency from all political influences should plan the election after a consensus is reached on what type of election Somali will have (even though the opposition claims that EC is a government puppet with no independency). Also, the fact that the country has no constitutional court to deal with any election mishaps hinders the possibility of fair elections being held but as saying goes “when there is a will, there is a way”. We Somalis come from the long way which has allowed war Lords to become MPs to relinquish their power, and then the enlargement of the parliament in 2009 with heterogeneous political groups including reformists that opposed to the Ethiopian occupation at the time. Subsequently,Somalis reverted to few dozens of traditional elders to nominate the future MPs whereas in the last elections 51 people had to elect each MP while Federal State Governments Members nominated the Senators.
Any assemblage (not sole runners who later regroup for their interest inside the Parliament) who wants to run for election needs to treat us [Somalis] in a more mature manner and stop wasting the time and scarce resources in pointing fingers to each other in a futile and nasty name-calling and reciprocated empty threats. Most of all, they need to declare unambiguously their position and tell us who they are; what is their vision for the country, how they are going to execute their vision.
A lesson should be learned from the past when the incumbent consecutive governments unsuccessfully tried to engineer the outcome of the semi elections. If we are not careful, the history could be repeating itself. To cite few examples from the past, I can go back to the Sheikh Sharif Ahmed’s transitional government. First, the Government started to try extending their term in the office and partly succeeded because the roadmap for governing the country was not ready. Then they started to influence the appointment of legislators and ended up with a quasi-democratic selection of MPs, perhaps also with the intention of creating political space so that Sharif could come emerge as the winner at presidential race. Surprisingly, however, the first non-transitional government with Hassan Sheikh as president has emerged from the process. Again, Hassan Sh Mohamud’s leadership at end of their term in office tried to extend their term. Then, the creation of what is known well in the Somali language as “Madasha” where the head of fiveFederal States, the President, the PM and the Speaker who was last to be convinced because he kept saying that the “Madasha” was unconstitutional and the parliament was the ultimate voice of the people. The President’s team manipulated the outcome of the election of the MPs. The rest is history as the current incumbent President emerged against all odds. Based on this history, I would advise the incumbent government not to repeat the past mistakes and to abide by the rules if they want to be re-elected; as assemblage, they need to declare their intentions. All parties should go back to the drawing board and leave the model of “One Man Show” (One person who says they would like to be the President).
The question is what sort of semi election Somalia will have? Who will be responsible to design the type of election? In my opinion, a commission should be formed consisting of the Federal Government, State Governments, Opposition Leaders and Civil Society to agree on the type of the election and set clear unambiguous rules that govern the upcoming elections.
With the help of the International Community, Somalia is on an unstoppable journey towards lasting peace and progress, and anyone who think that they can stop the journey or derail its course they need to wake up from their dream. Neither the incumbent government nor the opposition has the right to govern us [Somalis] against our will; the people should have the power to choose who they want to give the mandate to govern our country.
Hashim Duale MBE