Public Trust Deficit in Somalia



When the Military Junta led by General Siyad Barre overthrew the civilian government of Somalia in October 1969, the General was so timid that he could not inform the nation of the coup d’état that had just taken place, according to the late prominent elder and businessman Ali Barre ( Cidi Libaax). One day in the 1980s Ali Barre told me that in the early days after the Military takeover, he patted on the shoulders of Siyad Barre and encouraged him, “to speak to the people bravely like a man”. History is full of similar stories from Stalin to Mussolini to all petty and big dictators in history. Dictators, therefore, are not born, but created by their own people.
In the case of Somalia, there is a popular cliché in the native language, “wax la salaaxo,madaxxaa ugu sareeya” (meaning literally the human head is the highest point someone can reach out and fondle”). In Somali setting, it means nobody is to be satisfied with the decisions and rulings of pertinent officials, bodies, departments and institutions until someone has the opportunity to go all the way to the Chief Executive Officer of the government, in most cases, the President. Based on my personal experience,everyone in the country, every Somali visitor from other parts of world,including the members of the large Somali Diaspora, seek to see the guy at top for whatever personal or mundane reasons they may have in mind. Some even bring foreign interested persons along with them to quickly secure their access to the President or Prime Minister. Failure to secure that opportunity is extremely disappointing to them. There is only 24 hours in a day and it is humanly impossible for everyone to meet with the President. Think about the enormous,unnecessary and extra burden on a Somali political leader, his offices and staff. Think about the acrimony and hatred that surround these offices, the inherent and chronic personal complains, false and unjust accusations against the staff and security personnel, influence peddling, the bribery and corruption practices the enterprise creates in the process. Unfortunately, in Somalia the positions of the President, Prime Minister, and Chief of Staff, Protocol or Public Relations Officers are the worst jobs in the world for any decent person has to seek and accept.
I could recall bitter experiences during my tenure as the Chief of Staff and I have the scars to show. Although I paid high prices at personal level, there is no doubt and nobody can deny that I had the greatest impact and made enormous difference in confronting this dilapidating Somali political culture in Puntland State of Somalia as the constituency finally accepted my approach to government operations and decision-making process.
Under these crushing, cruel and painful working conditions,one cannot expect like other normal countries to produce a good Head of State or Government. That way Somalis turn their leaders into authoritarian devils overnight by bestowing them the powers of the final say on everything. That way they disable the functions of other public institutions of government while at the same they whine about bad governance and dictatorship. They must learn the hard reality that they cannot have both ways. The powers of the any public servant including the President, Prime Minister and other officers must be respected, not worshipped. Instead, they must be constantly challenged. Leaders must be compelled to fight for popular support, not the other way round. Only that way people of Somalia can help themselves prevent dictatorship and have the opportunity to choose better leaders and maintain good governance. Do not create unaccountable,monstrous authoritarian leaders, please! That is one of the best ways you can really and positively contribute to a better Somalia.
In another related story, once upon a time people elected a man to be their leader for a fixed term in office. At the end of the term, the man wanted re-election to another term. People told him that he had not done well to deserve re-election. He told them, “how come!? I have been doing successfully what you had elected me for – meeting with you all my time”.
Other related articles:
The Way Forward for Somalia
Public Trust Deficit in Somalia
Federalism, a Guarantor of Peace among Somali Clans
Hope and Lessons in Somalia
Outside View: Building a Secure Somalia
TFG Top Priorities as Expressed by the President
Somalia, Foreign and International

Author: Warsame Digital Media WDM

Somalia Briefing and Consultations

Somalia Briefing and Consultations
On Monday (22 February), Security Council members will discuss the situation in Somalia in an open videoconference (VTC). A closed VTC is scheduled to follow. Special Representative and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) James Swan, AU Special Representative Francisco Madeira and EU Managing Director for Africa Rita Laranjinha are expected to brief. Council members may issue press elements at the conclusion of the meeting.
The meeting is likely to focus on Somalia’s delayed elections and the steps being taken to safeguard the country’s political stability and security situation given the current state of political upheaval. The failure to elect a president by the 8 February deadline endorsed by the country’s parliament has now precipitated a constitutional crisis and resulted in violence. Swan is likely to brief the Council on the rapidly evolving political and security situation since he last briefed Council members under “any other business” on 9 February. During that meeting, which had been requested by the UK, Swan apparently updated members on a series of political disputes between the Somali Federal Government, led by President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed “Farmajo”, and leaders from two of the country’s federal member states, Puntland and Jubaland. According to a 17 September 2020 agreement, parliamentary elections were to be held from 1 to 27 December and presidential elections on 8 February. (Given the logistical and security challenges of holding direct elections, a modified indirect electoral process was agreed to last year. This system allows clans’ delegates to choose members of the lower house of parliament, which in turn chooses the president.)
The parliamentary elections had to be postponed, amid claims that Farmajo should not be allowed to run for another term based on long-standing precedent as well as accusations that he had attempted to bypass Somalia’s electoral laws by installing loyalists to polling committees charged with coordinating the parliamentary elections. This postponement, in turn, prevented the country from organising the presidential elections. The presidential elections were slated to be held by 8 February, the day that Farmajo’s term expired, in accordance with Somalia’s constitution. Subsequently, several opposition groups and the Council of Presidential Candidates Union—which is made up of 14 leading political figures and candidates running against Farmajo—declared that they no longer recognised Farmajo’s legitimacy, stating that they “w[ould] not accept any form of mandate extension through pressure”. Instead, they proposed that a Transitional National Council be established to help usher the country through this crisis and establish an electoral transition.
After discussing Somalia during “any other business” on 9 February, Security Council members issued press elements, welcoming efforts made by the leaders of the federal government and the federal member states to “find agreement on the implementation of the 17 September electoral model” but expressed concern that the dialogue had yet to yield an agreement. Council members called on Somalia’s leaders to resume dialogue and work urgently to find a consensus for how to proceed with the elections. Since December, there have been several attempts at dialogue between the parties to address the electoral delays; UNSOM, for its part, continues to offer its good offices to overcome the impasse and has facilitated meetings between the diplomatic community and Somali political leaders.
Council members will be keen to learn more about the mission’s facilitation efforts and the current state of the dialogue. There have been some notable developments in this regard in recent days. On 16 February, Somali Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdirizak announced that a meeting of a technical committee representing Somalia’s federal government and federal member states had reached agreement on a number of technical issues pertaining to the organisation of elections, though details of the agreement were not released. The following day, UNSOM released a joint statement with Somalia’s international partners welcoming the agreement. Council members will likely want to know more details about the agreement and how it may contribute to resolving the country’s current electoral stalemate. While an official statement from Somalia’s presidential office (and media reports) suggested that a meeting between Farmajo and representatives of Somalia’s federal states was to be organised in Mogadishu on 18 and 19 February to discuss the electoral crisis, at the time of writing, there are no indications that this meeting occurred.
Meanwhile, overnight from 18 to 19 February, violent clashes took place in Mogadishu, with opposition leaders claiming that a hotel where they were staying had been attacked by government forces. On 19 February afternoon, government forces fired on hundreds of demonstrators who were protesting the elections delay. An explosion at Mogadishu’s airport was also reported. UNSOM subsequently issued a statement, calling for restraint by all parties and noting that the violence “underscore[s] the urgent need for federal government and federal member state leaders to come together to reach political agreement” to implement the 17 September electoral arrangement.
In addition to the recent electoral-related instability, Somalia’s overall security situation remains volatile. Several high-profile Al Shabaab attacks have occurred so far in 2021, including a 31 January attack on a hotel in Mogadishu that killed ten people and an 8 February roadside attack on Somali National Army (SNA) forces that killed at least eight soldiers. Council members may express concerns that the recent violence could affect SNA activities and imperil Somalia’s efforts against Al Shabaab.
Given the deterioration in the security situation and the scheduled adoption by the Council of a resolution extending the mandate of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) on 25 February, Council members will also be interested to hear from Swan about Somalia’s ongoing fight against Al Shabaab, as well as progress on the Somalia Transition Plan—a roadmap adopted in 2018 that laid out the steps for Somalia to assume full responsibility for its own security. The Secretary-General’s 17 February report on Somalia notes that the Somalia Transition Plan has been finalised, permitting operational planning to commence with a view to implementing the country’s security transition by the end of 2021. Council members will want to be updated on the status of the plan, and in light of the current political deadlock, how delays in its approval by the Somali federal government could affect its implementation.