Twenty years ago Somalia’s political class (belonging to major armed clans) spoke to each other through a gun barrel. Today they prefer to communicate with each other through the international community. The role the Somalia’s current political class would like the international community to play is not that of an impartial partner but that of one-sided entity acting on information given to it about a rival group.
Somalia has a permanent government but our leaders are as far from reconciliation and commitment to political accountability as they were twenty years ago. Challenges Somalis are facing are many but two are the most formidable of all:
1-Somali politicians do not share political goals for a country torn apart by civil war, and
2- Somali politicians do not share ethical framework.
The tendency to give the international community wrong information about real or perceived rivals exemplifies absence of shared ethical framework. Somalia’s United Nations Ambassador Dr. Elmi Du’ale briefed United Nations Security Council members attending a meeting on the situation in Somalia on 7 November 2012 . “It is now a matter of nation-building and establishing a Government in a
country that for 21 years had practically no effective central Government or even regional Governments that really functioned — instead there were militias governing every area. Rebuilding mustbe the major objective of everyone in Somalia” said Ambassador Elmi. Somali has successful regional administrations. Somalailand conducted two successful presidential elections, and has political parties and free press. In Puntland three presidents have peacefully transferred power to a successor, and has introduced a law on forming political parties.
Somalia is a unique post-war reconstruction case as Mogadishu, capital bore the brunt of power struggles associated with “who-rules-the capital-rules-the country-”mentality, a throw-back to twenty-plus years of military dictatorship. The military junta which overthrew the civilian regime in 1969 left behind institutional mistrust: Somalis were unusually enthusiastic about a regime which abolished political parties to discourage dissent in order to be able to renege on its promise to go back to barracks once ‘the mess created ‘ the civilian regime was sorted out’.
In 1991, more than two decades after military coup , Somalis were unusually enthusiastic about regime change through clan-based, armed opposition groups who replaced the military dictatorship with clan militia dictatorship and created the perfect breeding ground for religious extremism.
The president’s Visit to Baydhaba
Shortly after he was elected a president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, visited Baydhba, the administrative capital of Bay region. In a speech he discussed challenges facing the new government and people’s desire to form regional administrations. “If a region decides to form an administration , and if the region can afford to pay 20% of budget to run the administration, the remaining 80% will come with strings attached, ” president Hassan Sheikh told Baydhaba elders. Was the president implying people of Baydhaba have a dependency culture?
Leaders of regional administrations with a history of institution-building and leaders who have no institution-building experience will find difficult to share a common political goals because they don’t share common institution-building experience, and this translates into pointless rivalry. Without shared ethical framework Somalia’s political class will squander the opportunity to help Somalia benefit from the goodwill and commitment of the international community.