I first of all wanted to say hello to all my fellow young Somalilanders and future leaders. It is you who I speak of when I promise Somaliland politicians that ‘Somaliland will be fine after your entire generation dies.” While those words may be harsh, the stinging reality of its promise garners at least an appreciative smirk from those who remember what it feels like to love Somaliland. It is no secret that the current young generation of Somalilanders will inevitably be the leaders of tomorrow and I want to thank every one of them in advance for beginning their journey simply by realising that they are the answer that they are looking for.
What takes us all as young Somalilanders on this journey is that the country of Somaliland burns like a fire in our hearts, holds an emotional attachment that overcomes great distances, and calls to us beckoning our return to our true home and final resting place. It’s this same passion and unbreakable attachment that will lead Somaliland to its future success, but first we need to take this passion and convert it into energy we can harness in the form of tangible results and the progression of Somaliland.
Being based in Somaliland I have the privilege of bumping into members of all the political parties (including both their leaders and their fervent followers) and indeed my very close relatives are extremely active in all the main political parties; even Udhis! So I think I can safely say that I am speaking from a very broad perspective when I say that we need to consider who we support and the reasoning and logic behind our support. Should we support a certain party based on our clan ethnicity, support whom our parents do, or should we choose a party based on the needs of Somaliland?
With the increasing intellectual capacity and patriotism of our younger citizens I will have to leave that as an open question as the answer is quite obvious and I am sure we are all on the same page. It is the bleeding and humiliated concept of Somaliland that needs our support and attention and as patriots whose heart the love of Somaliland burns in, we must rally to support Somaliland using all methods available to us; but where do we start?
A lack of a clear election date has created an understandable lack of confidence among most voters, but it still remains that this sacred privilege of voting is the only option when you overcome the immature notion of using violence. It is this same lack of confidence and feeling of helplessness that has in fact allowed the current administration of Somaliland to exploit loopholes in our current constitution allowing them to circumnavigate the limits placed on terms of office. What makes many voters even more disillusioned with our voting process is the inevitability that the ballots will be stuffed.
My answer to this disillusionment is ‘so what?’ Having witnessed ballot stuffing take place in big cities such as Toronto, Canada and London, England I can assure you that this nasty little tactic is employed in practically every country and in every election in the world. What you should think about is that ballots always reflect the will of the greater masses and no one can change that. The Nazi party could never come back to power in Germany even if all the election officials belonged to that party because the number of fake votes it would take to counter the real votes could simply never exist! What I am trying to say is that when the citizen’s of Somaliland’s resolve is heightened to the point the only logical outcome is made clear, it is only Somaliland and not any party in particular that will be declared the winner on Election Day.
So who is this party that is capable of delivering us this promise? Who is this party that will single hand idly bring us from the darkness into the light? The answer is that there is none. Yes, none. Zip, zero, none. There is no such thing as a Magic Party that always gets it right. If it did exist then they would’ve won the election long ago. So now that we know this and we’re thinking realistically and not ideally, who should we be throwing or support behind? Udub? Kulmiye? Ucid? Udhis? Should we start from scratch with a new party? Or should we choose a party based on the needs of Somaliland? The answer to this question may at first seem obvious to those who are privy to passing fanaticism and you will soon realise that the answer to this question is in fact the same answer that was equally obvious before; we should support a political party based on the needs and reality of Somaliland. As much as each promises with all their breathe; no single party will ever be the saviour of Somaliland. In fact, it will be their successive efforts when put together as a whole that will create a better Somaliland.
The trappings of office are actually quite nice, even here in Somaliland, and even I wouldn’t mind living on the state’s tab! Jokes aside, it is our civic duty and our civil responsibility to ensure Somaliland should not be left in one man’s hands; but rather in the hands of the entire nation. It is for this reason we should all be opposed to leaders interested in dictatorial office terms. As humans, we are all prone to complacency; the disease that ravages even the best of us and begins to eat away at our productivity and efficiency without us ever knowing. You see, it begins with overconfidence in one’s accomplishments and usually ends with complete disillusionment with one’s actual abilities verses our actual accomplishment. Throw in our nations disgusting national favourite pastime (chewing qat) and you are now looking at our current administration.
I am sure that our current President had Somaliland’s interests at heart a great deal more seven years ago then he does today and I don’t even blame him. There are actually people who call themselves Somalilander who put their allegiance to his affiliations and favours before their allegiance to Somaliland and give him an excuse to stick around. This may dismay Udub supporters, but even they themselves would find it hard to argue against tribal ties, financial motivation or outright cowardice as their motive for their support of the current party in power. My question to them is what exactly has he accomplished in his seven years of office?
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So now that is it obvious that Udub is not the answer we are left with Ucid, Kulmiye and Udhis. See this makes it hard because I both dislike and like them all equally. None of them has ever given me a coherent platform for me to consider, but all of them belong to the party that I plan to vote for; The Party of CHANGE. You see, I am more interested in Somaliland practising democratic ideals then the abilities of the current generation who are in a position to assume authority right now. I embellish the motto of the great state of New Hampshire who’s ‘Live Free or Die’ motto has made them a notoriously unpredictable swing state that holds no allegiances to any political party. When it comes time for me to vote I will be voting for The Party of CHANGE.
If this one can’t get it right; then fire them. If the next one doesn’t get it right; then fire them too. Hell, go Donald Trump on them and fire every one of them until one of them gets it right. And even when that one comes along he or she will only get one term more than those before him/her and a place in my heart alongside Somaliland as a consolation prize. You see, I care not about my uncle or the man who pays my bills. I care about the nation my children and grandchildren will call their home and whether or not they will have the same opportunity to pursue their happiness as the developed world does.
So this still doesn’t answer who we should be voting for. After dreaming of the idealistic kind of politics promised by Ucid and wanting to see those ideas come to fruition I have also learned about the nasty old politics in our country that you just have to experience to understand. Many of the voters don’t know their rights (and I challenge the Commission currently in Somaliland to spend the simple five thousand dollars to run a decent TV/Radio advert educating people on why to vote and how to vote in their best interests and according to democratic ideals). A lot of this has a lot to do with silly tribal affiliations at play in Somaliland, previous disputes amongst tribes and old promises and favours. Add this to who can provide the most free qat to rallying supporters and you now have a perfect picture of the majority of the Somaliland voting base.
After becoming in touch with the reality of Somaliland politics and the average voter, I realised that while Ucid ideally seems like a good party and has a level of organisation the other parties lack, that they have no realistic chance of winning the election due to the current political situation on the ground (which includes the ignorance and tribalism in our politics we need to eradicate). I recently drove through an Ucid rally in Downtown Hargeisa’s and I’m sorry to have to say that most of the people honking their horns were honking out of sheer frustration at the traffic jam the rally caused.
So now, being a big supporter of The Party of CHANGE why would I give my vote to a party that doesn’t have a realistic chance of winning the election? I know I want to get rid of Udub and will support anyone who can take their place. So, I guess, I should just go out and vote for the party that makes the best promises right? I mean, it’s that simple; roll the dice and may the best party win dude! The truth is, is that it is not that simple. You must realise that Udub has bought so many votes that they can easily come in first place in the election without stuffing any ballots. So it is on us as those who want to vote for The Party of CHANGE in Somaliland to look at which of the four parties can actually become the alternative to our current hapless administration. Udhis is an upstart and is in the same position that Ucid was in the last election; a fresh way to say you’re not a part of the status quo and that you won’t vote based on the old way of thinking. I like the hope that Ucid provides, but there is no way in hell that I like that hope enough to give Udub another 5 years at the helm Somaliland.
So now you see where I’m getting. The purpose of this article is an exercise in realism and to throw the idealistic dreamy wishy washy feeling aside. I actually look forward to assisting Ucid in the future and don’t want to discourage people from supporting the party that they agree with, but at some point I have to tell myself the truth; it’s not going to happen. I have to take my vote and use it as a weapon in Somaliland’s defence and be a smart voter who votes strategically and constructively and uses this weapon for an actual outcome. Doing anything less would amount to a waste of my precious vote and registering what would amount to a protest vote. The truth on the ground here in Somaliland is that a vote for Udhis or Ucid amounts to throwing your vote or straight up voting for Udub.
We have to realise that since they realistically have no chance to register more than a presence that we are splitting the opposition vote and giving what amounts to a ‘ vote to Ross Perot.’ This now leaves us with the party that is far from perfect, Kulmiye, as our only option as The Party of Change. It is, after all, this party that either won or almost won the vote the last time (depending on who you believe) and has the largest supporter base and therefore the only realistic challenger to Udub in the upcoming election.
In the future I look forward to a leader who has the patriotism and a love for their country and that I can call a ‘Wadaani’. The sad truth is that it will take time before this kind of leader can emerge in a correct climate in Somaliland where we can vote for the party we want to win and they actually have a fair chance; A time where a candidate only has to express their platform to an educated voter base in order to have a realistic chance. Anyone who believes we are currently at this point on the ground in Somaliland is only asking to be punished for their naivety.
So I conclude this message to all the young Somalilanders reminding them to use their vote strategically and to think beyond the current game. Think about the entire season and the life of Somaliland if it is Somaliland that you truly do love. And remember that no particular party is a sports team and it’s okay to be a glory-hunter if it suits the needs of Somaliland. Vote for The Party of Change and remember that this title belongs to none of the four parties exclusively, but to Somaliland itself. I may support Kulmiye this time around, but as I promised Mr. Silaanyo to his face, my support for their party will end the day they come to power. You see, I am a supporter of Somaliland the country, and not its representatives. Until Somaliland politics has everything to do with what’s right and nothing to do with tribes, I will forever be a part of the opposition and vote for The Party of Change.
I call on all of you to join me in supporting The Party of Change and look forward to the future of Somaliland and the ‘Rise of the Independents’. I urge you all to think about why and who you are voting for before you cast that ballot. You may honestly be Somaliland’s last chance.
Mo ‘Arr’ Hussein
Views expressed in the opinion articles are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the editorial