Former Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre
Let me begin by saying that “The thrill of Nabad iyo Nolol is gone”. Some, including myself, believe there was no thrill to begin with. I truly have some reservations about the sudden but organized removal of former Prime Minister Kheyre from office. The process was unprecedented. Article 54 of The National Assembly’s Procedural Law stipulates how a vote of no confidence shall proceed, which gives The Prime Minister and his allies a chance to defend the case. This has never been appropriately followed. Constitutionally, The Federal Parliament has the legal authority to remove the Prime Minister from office. In Somalia, you interpret laws to your benefit or create your acts illegally to destroy or defeat your opponents.
Is the internal fighting real or a sideshow? Was the removal orchestrated and discussed before? Why Kheyre who appeared to be the most powerful Prime Minister in Somalia’s contemporary politics was not able to get at least ten of his ministers to defend him in the National Assembly? There are about 47 ministers in the National Assembly, only one of them stood up for Kheyre. One factor is the belief of Members of The National Assembly to get a two-year extension which is a disastrous move and not possible legally. In my view, a technical extension is likely even though I oppose any extension at all. Another factor is the political animosity between the National Assembly and regional leaders.
Sources say that Kheyre and Farmaajo discussed arranged resignation a few months ago so N&N can restart a new engine of hope, but this was either not successful or the discussion was still ongoing until Kheyre visited Qatar. Another source from Dhusamareb say Kheyre was told while in the town that there is going to be a vote of no confidence in Mogadishu, but he did not show any concern or urgency to act, but rather he was smiling.
At least there were disagreements and some mistrust between Farmaajo and Kheyre while they managed to entertain their political bases. The most visible collision was the political ambition of Kheyre to run for the next election. A lot of analysts believe Kheyre was on the one hand collaborating with his boss and at the same time working tirelessly to become the next President. Kheyre’s visit to Qatar may have triggered a change of course as he was working to getting a large amount of money from oil companies as a signing bonus for Somalia’s oil blocks. Strategists close to the President Farmaajo thought if Kheyre manages to get the money, it would be used for political campaign by Kheyre as The Central Bank Governor who was part of Kheyre’s delegation to Qatar is a very close friend and former business partner of Kheyre. Another source of political money for Kheyre could have come from The City of Mogadishu as he managed to replace Director of Revenue at the city a few months ago to his political ally. Dhusamareb meeting unfolded the intentions of Farmaajo and Kheyre to the broader audience.
In politics, it is not what you read or hear but rather what is done. Whatever the case may be serious damage is being done to ordinary N&N supporters who for the most part are not sophisticated, now confused and embarrassed. In politics, there is no permanent friend but rather an interest.
The following are the possible scenarios in light of the current gridlock:
Opposition groups in the National Assembly may attempt not to give a vote of confidence to the new Prime Minister and the program of the government which will automatically cease the term of the Executive and both Houses. This is in the Provincial Constitution under article 67. This is unlikely, but it could be a way out for every group to go into forced election right away.
The new Prime Minister gets a vote of confidence from The National Assembly, and he/she is expected to negotiate with regional leaders for an indirect selection/election similar to 2016 process with new extra improvements. This is what Puntland and Jubbaland advocate to block Villa Somalia’s desire to come back. Sources from Kismayo suggest Ahmed Madoobe may not openly oppose Villa Somalia due to a political fatigue, the recognition he got at Dhusamareb and Gedo’s return to his administration as per Farmaajo’s promise. He is also in consultation with Yusuf Haji, Aden Barre Ducale and others in Nairobi which the outcome will be known in the next few days. Historically in election time regional leaders out manoeuvre Villa Somalia for their survival and interest. They do understand any election failure will be blamed on Villa Somalia, not them.
2. The National Assembly gives a vote of confidence to the new Prime Minister, and he/she manages to convince regional leaders to agree what Villa Somalia calls ‘’one person, one vote” without any 2-year extension. This deal shall give regional leaders a space to co-run the selection/election with the federal institutions. One person, one vote is another indirect selection/election but is expected to take the process close to the people.
Politically the road ahead is rocky if Villa Somalia and regional leaders do not come up a win-win scenario. The relationship between National Assembly and regional leaders are quite toxic. There is already a bad blood between Villa Somalia, Puntland and Jubbaland for obvious reasons. Many observers believe that no one was willing to make a compromise as they tend to lean to a zero-sum game.
Villa Somalia, Puntland and Jubbaland shall pause the inner war and change the course before they take responsibility of another catastrophic failure and conflict. The other three states and Banadir are usually close to the centre due to their social and political reasons. The latter relationship may not be guaranteed as Somalia enters the finish line which is usually very turbulent and unpredictable. The political market changes very swiftly, especially during election time. Finally, the current President is required to select a Prime Minister who is a politician, charismatic, has intellectual capacity who can exercise an integrative power rather than threat power. We shall not repeat past mistakes and work toward leaving a positive legacy.