May 13 (Jowhar.com)- Elections are an essential part of people who live in democratic countries. They give citizens under democratic rules the power to promote and reward leaders perceived to be doing good while peacefully voting out those who fail to meet people’s expectations, hence, allowing citizens to hold the powerful to account. Somalia has had a brief experience on elections and democratic governance from 1960-69, but the 1969 military coup disrupted the country’s democratic experiment after Barre erased all traces of democratic norms.
President Barre’s show came to an end when an unorganized rebel groups that rightfully resisted his military rule but had no plan what should happen after Barre is gone, managed to oust him after 21 years of dictatorship in 1991.
Ever since Barre was overthrown from office, the political class in Somalia have not managed to strike a balance that one had reversed the leadership wrongs of the past and on the other, models an inclusive bath that constrain leaders from abusing their power while enabling leaders to do their jobs effectively and efficiently.
The issue was and is to this day, a leadership failure to foster an inclusive and a legitimate open system of democracy that is built on accountability, transparency and the rule of law.
The legitimate part is crucial because for the system to get acceptance from the populace, it has to be a participatory system that includes all groups “Clans” in the governing system, this signifies a clear break from Barre’s exclusionary practices that sow the seed of the current Social, Economic and Political disintegration in Somalia.
President Farmajo in his early years had an opportunity to lead that task, unfortunately, he did the opposite. Instead of fostering an inclusive environment where people who articulate a better and inclusive future for all, chose to surround himself with divisive and dangerous people who had no issue of using government machinery to go after people who rightfully rejected to be part of their now failed experiment.
To be fair to Farmajo and his team, their behavior and way of running government institutions is not new to Somalia, power abuse in general is repetitive in Somalia. For that reason, the first thing the next president of Somalia must do is to demonstrate how a leader should exercise power responsibly. I must admit, exercising power reasonably while confronting bad faith actors in Somalia is not an easy undertaking although some leaders did better than others.
This is crucial because Somalis are not used to a system where leaders are constrained, and consensus building is incentivized. In fact, most people will tell you how their Political, Social and Economic challenges can only be resolved by a “Tough Leader” not necessarily a legitimate one.
It is this thinking that enables leaders like Farmajo to emerge and continue the destructive legacy their predecessors left. As such, beginning an inclusive process whereby most would be leaders and prominent figures in Somalia come together and build an Independent Judiciary, that’s free from all forms of undue interferences, where Administrative Institutions Hire, Promote and Demote its stuff on merit to enable them to function properly and where the Security Institutions focus on protecting the people from both domestic and foreign threats, rather than going after and silencing Dissent Voices is crucial.
Failure to have such priorities on these fronts will almost guarantee the return of Farmajo like figures and as a result, people are going to pause their life’s again and organize another resistance force like “Badbaado Qaran” this time Part 2 to counter what they perceive to be an existential threat to their democratic aspirations.
“Washamsi” is a funny phrase that is commonly used in Somali politics nowadays. It’s when politicians get together to block their common foe from victory.
These politicians may not have anything in common except their desire to see their common foe lose. I think it’s time for the political class in Somalia to not only get together and exercise a healthy dose of “Washamsi” against Farmajo and his friends but help establish a mechanism that prevents reckless people from ever having a seat at the table.
That way Somalis’ collective desire to rebuild their country with the help of the international community can be restored and the recovery and reconstruction process can resume.
Mohamed Abdullahi Hussein