Saturday February 25, 2017
They were corrupt.Selections and elections have taken place in Somalia. And they were corrupt. It was agreed 135 clan elders to select 1000s of delegates. These delegates were then to select federal MPs that would end up electing a federal president. After numerous delays, frustrated community hastily convened the process. Selections and elections took place throughout Somalia. Some of the 135 clan elders, like the Suldan Mohamed of Sheikhal clan, were systematically excluded from the process.
Fake delegates were seated to select fake MPs. In the end, 329 MPs(including up to 80 fake MPs) were chosen to elect a president. 24 candidates stood for the presidential elections. Despite its delegate manipulations, elder exclusions, and blatant disregard for due process, the ruling Damjadid party failed to amass over 100 loyal MPs in the federal parliament. Their earlier failures to win the speaker and the deputy speaker positions signalled vulnerability. After 2 rounds, former PM Farmaajo shocked the world by defeating the incumbent Damjadid President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
Somalis throughout the world were elated over Farmaajo’s win. Ordinary Somalis have in 2011 cherishedFarmaajo’s 6 months stint as PM and they never seem to forget how he was booted out by sleazy backroom dealings between the then Speaker Sharif Hassan and the then President Sharif Ahmed. Since then, Farmaajo has waged an anticorruption campaign. His message of unity, nationalism, and good governance has resonated with ordinary Somalis.
His name has become synonymous with honesty, decency, and dignity. It was hard for many of us to imagine that such a dignified candidate could win over such a corrupt parliament.Most of us, including perhaps, Farmaajo himself, believed he had a better chance to win if and when Somalia implements one person on vote policy. We were wrong. We have underestimated the collective wisdom of our MPs who have elected him with overwhelming numbers.
Now that he won, can he deliver his message of change? Sure he can. It all depends who he selects as PM and the makeup of the upcoming cabinet will either make or break some hearts. Recent discussions at Caldense Focus Group indicated public’s desire for new PM and new cabinet and not recycles from past administrations. Recycled faces masquerading as change will only prolong the status quo. The honeymoon festivities will fade and the realities of governing a divided and entitled community will sink in. If President Farmaajo shows courage and decisiveness, he will prevail. Butif he avoids risks and allows interest groups to get away with business as usual, he will fail and in 4 years Somalis will relish for his replacement.
But the public mood is on the side of the president. Most ordinary Somalis have extremely favourable view and insist President Farmaajo will keep his promises. Their optimistic outlook is having positive impact on the markets. Real estate prices are ticking up. Even the business community is forever hopeful that the president has started with a positive message. He has promised to rebuild any hotel or business establishment that is destroyed as a result of a terrorist attack.
“We are very pleased and heartened by the president’s public statement,” said one of Mogadishu’s hoteliers. Many Mogadishu hotels have taken the enormous burden of providing accommodation, food and security to federal MPs and the generals in the armed forces. Although they are in profit seeking business, these hoteliers continue to provide essential services taking care our MPs even when they are not paid on time. Many accounts remain unpaid and have huge outstading balances.
President Farmaajo promised to pay federal salaries retroactively. He should also meet with hoteliers, ask them to submit their invoices and pay out the debts. It is good governance. It is job creation. It is the right thing to do. “We wish the president a successful 1st term and his success is Somalia’s success”, said one of the owners.