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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Somalia Needs a New Generation of Leaders

From left: Speaker Sharif Hassan, Pres. Sh Ahmed, PM Abdiweli Gas

As much-anticipated end of Somalia’s transitional national government is around the corner, Somalis of all circles are wary of what the future holds in store for them. The process to replace the TFG—an entity known for eight years of political infighting, corruption—is one engulfed with rampant corruption; and therefore, deeply flawed.
Particularly, the Somali people are bothered by with the respect of how the Traditional Elders, the Constituency Assembly were selected, and even worse, how the Members of the Parliament are being selected. If this shame process is allowed to continue, it will bear a bitter fruit for Somalia, and thus will produce no change—at least for the better.

Somali elders were supposed to be the cornerstone of the process for which the country should be saved from itself. But it is safe to suggest that the method used for the selections of the traditional elders further contributes to the divisions and intra-fighting among Somali people. For example, the current TFG leaders handpicked so called Suldan or Ugaas whom they believe will submit the names of MPs who will be in favor of them when their names are on the ballot. This malpractice is the source of recent heightened disputes between the legitimate Suldan/Ugaas and the invented-ones created by either the TFG leaders, or their confidents in the Cabinet. Members of the cabinet themselves have interest in corrupting this highly respected institution—traditional elders-- because they all vying for becoming MPs; and therefore, put a constant pressure on the elders to select them, or face a hand-made alternative traditional elder.

Given the illegitimate way most of the elders were selected, the work done by the Constituency Assembly is therefore greatly compromised. This means no legitimate constitution, no legitimate Parliament, and thus, no legitimate presidency. One of potential solutions: Extend, yet again, the mandate of Transitional Federal Government for a year, in order to right the wrongs that have been done. But this time, there should be new leaders who have no ambition of running for Somalia’s presidency. By following this prescription, one lays the foundation for open and more integral process with the help of the care-takers whose only purpose is to establish a strong and viable government for the people of Somalia. This is attainable goal since the TFG is Western-funded institution, and in fact its mandate had been extended twice in the past.

In addition, the concern by the Somali people is shared with the international community, particularly folks who closely follow the Somali saga. The process is much criticized, as AFP reports, by the UN, African Union and East Africa's main diplomatic body IGAD warned last week that political leaders were using "bribery, intimidation (and) violence" to rig the selection of lawmakers. Laura Hammond of Britain's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) even paints much worse picture of the process by stating, "The process has become entirely corrupted - the Constituent Assembly was chosen under dubious conditions, the new constitution was rubber-stamped, and the parliamentary seats are being distributed to the highest bidders,".

Furthermore, despite the universal renunciation of how the conclusion of the Somali Roadmap plan is being conducted—however dubious and flawed—it is expected to deliver a result in which the current incompetent, corrupt leaders return to power in some form or shape. The trio: The PM, and the Speaker, and the President, all equally manipulated the process and expect a somewhat return of their investment. For this reason, I do anticipate the new government will in fact be led by them, unless drastic measures is taken to prevent them from assuming office on the basis of the World Bank report and the recent Eritrea-Somalia Monitoring Group in which the PM, the Speaker and the President were all implicated on corruption and embezzlements. If the unfortunate happens, and the same individuals return to power, one will question the credibility of the United Nations Political Office.

In conclusion, whether Somalia’s next government is called a Provisional Government or a Permanent Government, the dire living conditions that wedded the Somali people throughout the past two decades will surely stay the same, unless new generation of leaders with clear vision, a sense of accountability and patriotism, the desire to lift the country out of the current mayhem, and transparency driven, is selected/elected to the office of the presidency. The alternative, which is the return of the current heads of the county, will constitute nothing short of reshuffle of the same faces, including the current cabinet members in which case the country and the people lose, yet again. But this time, it is UNPOS, United Nations Political Office for Somali, where the buck stops. 

Abdirahman Takhal
atakhal@aol.com

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