Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed arrives for the swearing-in ceremony of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Pretoria, South Africa, May 25, 2019. (AP Photo)
Dear Mr. President,
I send you greetings on behalf of myself and my family. I hope this letter finds you in good health. On February 8th, 2017, together with my seven-month pregnant wife, we took to the streets of Mogadishu to celebrate your election as the ninth President of Somalia. Many others – regardless of their status and clan alignment – celebrated the win with the hope that you will rebuild and boost our democracy to achieve stability. The celebrations were witnessed across all Somalis, signalling the birth of a new dawn for a country crippled by war and corruption. Your peaceful election to office and transition to power was historic and turned a new leaf in African democracy and, in particular, Somalia. It opened the doors of hope and gave you a chance to redeem our image internationally and bring peace and reconciliation within the country.
Mr. President, in your victory speech and those that preceded it, you reiterated the need for a country-wide reconciliation process to restore cohesion and help reintegration between warring sides and clans. Although you made several strides towards it, it wasn’t fully tackled. You promised to tackle corruption, insecurity, and poverty, which are as prevalent as before and less was done on them – if the data from the transparency index are to go by – and it’s expected to skyrocket during this electioneering period. You found institutions and functioning ministries better than your predecessor inherited, these institutions improved in the last four years, and we are in a better position than yesterday. Although much credit goes to you and Prime Minister Khaire, the Somali people and those who took the risk of working in those institutions also contributed to developing and improving institutions.
Mr. President, allow me to take you down history lane. In 1960, we got our first democratically elected president, the late H.E Adan Adde, who took over office from the colonialists. Then a fragile democracy, elections were held after a seven-year term as required by the previous constitution, the sitting president was defeated. He affably accepted defeat and handed over the mantle, becoming the first post-independence African president to peacefully hand over the reins. It was a unique thing for a sitting African president to peacefully hand over power; this attracted praise and international attention. As my grandfather once told me, he mostly referred to as the father of African democracy. During his period, we were hailed as flourishing democracy in the midst of a dark age in African democracy. This can today teach us many lessons regarding the electoral impasse you are currently facing.
Mr. President, fast forward to 1991, the longest-ruling president decided against holding elections, undoing all his efforts of taking Somalia to the top of Africa both politically and militarily. The resulting violence led Somalia to be synonymous with state institutional failure and led to the breakdown of institutions, mass evictions, rape and humanitarian disaster. We fell from the top of the ladder and became a failed state. The rest they say is history. The events that followed can today teach us many lessons to learn from our mistakes and correct our current circumstances to safeguard our gains.
Mr. President, Aristotle was once quoted to have said, “If liberty and equality, as is thought by some, are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost.” This is derived from the fact that all citizens, regardless of their status, have an equal right to government, to govern or be governed accordingly, participate in the electoral process and serve if elected democratically. You were elected to office peacefully. The Somali people gave you an opportunity to govern; owing to this, we expected you to hold elections to open the gates for others. The Federal Government of Somalia is the hope of every Somali within our borders or in international boundaries. You were elected to protect the lives and property of Somalis, kindly uphold those values by directing the country to elections and safeguard the lives of those who have been affected by mass displacement caused by fighting in the capital.
Mr. President, On Saturday, you have an opportunity; it may be the last. Redeem it with the same zeal that you had when you took power. Any bloodshed or whatever that may result from a decision, whether good or bad, made by parliament will forever be written in history. The options are pretty straightforward; you’ll either take the path of Aden Adde and be hailed a hero or that of President Barre and undo all your efforts and that of your predecessors. It was a long journey to finally reach where we are today, kindly propel us forward and not backward. The country today is at crossroads; I hope you will spend some time crawling alone through the shadows of those around you so that we truly appreciate when you stand in parliament on Saturday. Remember, the buck stops at you!
Why become a dastard when you can simply become the savior? Choose wisely.