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An open Letter to President Hassan Sh. Mahamoud – By. Said Faadi

Congratulations are in order to you, Mr. President, for the modicum success your government has so far attained. The resuscitation of the diplomatic image in the global space tops on your scorecard.

For decades, our country has been absent from the international arenas for the wrong reasons. The country has indeed reached on the verge of succumbing into that ‘primal state of nature’ which brings to mind the writing of the great English Philosopher, Thomas Hobbes. Writing in the midst of his country’s bloody civil war, Hobbes once described this state of anarchy as a war of “all against all” that makes life ’solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short’.  Nothing defines better the situation our country than this ‘Hobbian state’.  Somalia’s diplomatic relation with the rest of the world was not spared either. It has been at best moribund.

For many, it’s like a dream come true to see an “elected” Somali president standing side by side with the world leaders. Recent media snapshots, which depicted you “dining” with the American President Barak Obama and later with the British Prime Minister David Cameron, have been received with much ado. Those who are old enough may recollect the historic visit of the democratically elected president of Somalia, Dr. Abdirashid Ali Sharmake to the Whitehouse in the 1960s. 

Hurrah! You have also purchased significant diplomatic points from your impressive address to the top echelon of European supranational state MPs in Brussels, and the recently concluded meeting of the OIC in Cairo. It was a splendid performance in the diplomatic foray – Well done, Sir.

Moreover, the articulation of your political agenda for Somalia in both Minnesota and London meetings with the Somali diaspora was captivating, albeit somewhat antagonising. In both meetings, you revealed to possess measured qualities of charisma and confidence. You shrewdly manoeuvred to sell your political agenda well with the blissful audiences.

The subsequent appearance on Universal TV to expound much of the “grey areas” of your plan was laudable on its own right. It was, indeed, a classical public deliberation, save for mature democracies.  In deliberative governance, people -the governed - take issues publicly with their governors. That is because the substance of democratic governance is that “When all is affected, all must participate”. The unprecedented rapturous receptions of the mammoth jamborees were indication of high approval rating. I am proud of you, Sir.

But all did not bode well for many. There are those who are suspicious, if not frustrated, with your approach. These dissenters are not rebellion without cause, Sir.  Nor they are ‘all’ suffering from malignant tribal bigotry. Many are constructive opponents whose sole motive is to challenge your misconception of the constitution. So that we ascertain the emergent post-conflict state institutions are legitimate and lawful. Internationally accepted cardinal rule of good governance has that people ONLY accept and tacitly give their consent to their governments when they feel it was legitimately constituted. 

Mr President, some of your recent utterances on the formation of regional governments were dividing rather than uniting. Your proclivity to “rule” from the centre has casted doubt on your moral conviction and fidelity to federalism. Put blatantly, your reluctance to the formation of regional government has provoked unnecessary division and hostile protestations – as those you have already encountered in Minnesota and London.  These provocations are breathing life to the latent dark and reactionary forces of tribalism. Suspension and mistrust in the middle of this fragile transition spells doom.  

And as a career civil society doyen, the last thing you would like to find yourself in, I assume, is in the middle of civil strife. But I could be wrong, because as they say, “power corrupts”.  After all, you are now a politician - and a president.

I am not an alarmist, Sir, but I am worried. I am not only worried, but also scared.  I am writing this open letter to you, Mr President, after I thoughtfully reflected the repercussion of the division – right in the middle - created by your recent speeches in Minnesota and London.

 My projection far into the future, in view of the widening division of our people along tribal lines, is unfortunately painting a bad picture. The omens are pointing to inevitable dangers on the horizon. My optimism, Sir, is giving way to pessimism. Analytical interrogation of the essence of your speeches – both in Minnesota and London - has revealed fallacies that are paradoxically puzzling.  

Mr President, You cynically stated in several occasions that Somalia is “constitutionally deferral” but.  In an utter disdain for the constitution that brought you to power, you went out of your mind and told the cheering crowd that “federalism should not be taken for guaranteed”. Indeed your famous phrase of “Geel sako ma gallo” is taken to be the tip of the iceberg. No wonder, it is a time-honoured tradition of African leaders to “kicking away the ladder” when they reach the top.

Sir, beyond the belief of everyone, and utter contempt, this time, for our intelligence, you claimed “people are not prepared to govern themselves”. In the footsteps of the “great, great leaders” of the continent, you preached that as President I know ‘the best the interest of the people’ and to that end I better rule the country from Villa Somalia by degree.

 Sir, with all the due respect, this is as bizarre assumption as it is a violation of the peoples’ constitutional rights of self-governance. In country paralleled by contesting tribal interests, it may reek of myopic tribal agenda. It could even be interpreted as a containment policy against certain regions – or communities. Sir, this is a colossal strategic blunder that undermines the on-going reconciliation process.

Let me tell you why elements of speech and attitudes towards federalism are dividing. First, logically constructed plans and decisions reached through consensus do not cause a fray. Your emphasis, for instance, on security espouses the common sense of everyone. There is nothing precious than peace in Somalia today. That is why no one raises a question on your plan of “security first”.

Second, Somalis, over the region, are the two sides of the same coin. They are culturally and socially homogenous. What is true in one section is universal applicable to the rest. This begs the question: if those in Somaliland are electing their leaders through the ballot, and president Farole of Puntland is implementing, as he claims, multiparty democracy in Puntland; why on earth do you and your advisers insist that Kismayo and Baydhawa cannot afford to elect their regional governments? It is mindboggling. 

 My unsolicited advice to you, Mr President, would be - respect constitution and implement it to the letter and spirit of the document. Read carefully what Articles 50, 51, 52, 53 and 54 of the constitution say. Putting higher barriers on the way of federalism to tighten your grip on power will not solve our problem, it aggravates. Whoever is advising in this, I don’t know “his” intention, is wrong. You cannot afford to commit a political suicide at this point - it is too early in the year.

Said Faadi

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The author is a topical commentator

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