AN OPEN LETTER TO THE NEW PRESIDENT OF SOMALIA

 

Congratulations to the President-Elect, H.E. Mohamed Abdullahi Formaggio, on his recent land-slide victory in the joint session of the People’s House and Senate of the Federal Parliament. The role of the Coalition for Change in that election victory is highly commendable too. The election victory has sparked off a rare phenomenon of patriotism reminiscent of the good old days of “Somalismo” and national pride.

These popular enthusiastic reactions will not last long as there are no quick fixes for the tremendous challenges this nation faces. The first business item on the plate of the new government is management of people’s expectations, revisiting campaign promises and re-explaining realistic time-frame before people see movement towards realization of their aspirations for peace, security and delivery of decent public services.

There are many seemingly insurmountable challenges the new government has to tackle with. All Presidential candidates in 2016-2017 election campaign acknowledged and enumerated the national tasks ahead. I would like to say a few words about some of these national goals, leaving others out as they are straight forward problems that require conventional wisdom and traditional good governance approach.

  1. Post Civil War Somalia could not move forward without proper national reconciliation. I believe it is priority number one as the future governance system heavily depends on the outcome of that critical national reconciliation.
  1. Another top priority, if not the first as well, is national and public security. Exit strategy for foreign troops out of Somalia depends on that priority. Forming credible national security forces is sine non qua for Somalia to be a stable country.
  1. Reclaiming Somalia’s national sovereignty and securing its borders is among the top priorities. It depends on the preceding point (2). Somalia has been losing its sovereignty over land, air and sea during the course of three decades. Reclaiming that sovereignty is the single most important challenge this nation is confronted with now. In this regard, re-defining the role and Somalia’s relations with the giant enterprise of international organizations and other non-state actors created to fill in the power vacuum after the collapse of Somali state in 1991, and whose bases of operations are in neighbouring countries is also among the pressing challenges for the new Somalia’s government to regulate them effectively. It is a huge industry that will resist any reform to avoid losing its grip on Somalia.
  1. Regional cooperation. The success of Somalia’s foreign policy  depends absolutely on its relationships and cooperation with neighbouring countries of Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti. The new government will not attract international cooperation and support without securing regional cooperation first and foremost. The explosive popular emotions against some countries contributing to AMISOM during the election campaigns for Presidential Election 2016-2017 cannot be allowed to influence the new foreign policy. Maintaining good neighbourly relations with Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia is not only a top foreign policy priority, but it is in the best vital national interest of Somalia now and for ever. This relationship must be built upon mutual respect, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs and beneficial regional cooperation in all areas possible, including economic integration and environmental protection. It is noteworthy to mention the recent CDRC publication, Vol 2 No.1 (January 2017) on the topic “the Commotion Surrounding Somalia’s Transition” was counter-productive, if not harmful to Ethio-Somali relations. I may also add that there are some Ethiopian officials who have become a liability now to the relations between Somalia and Ethiopia. Such actors within the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry and intelligence services elite are the reasons for the rare popular anger against Ethiopia in Somalia. Unfortunately, such situation is not conducive to an atmosphere of mutual respect and non-interference in the internal affairs of the others. Ethiopia should abandon its policy on Somali clan politics in order to avoid exposing its own internal nationalities and ethnic problems, a situation dangerously more explosive and complex than the composition of a uniquely homogenous Somali sub-clan system.
  1. In Conclusion, a simple truth is needed to be re-iterated: Everybody in the new government must know their job description within the Federal constitution and laws of the land. Unfortunately, it has not been so simple and the case for the previous Somali administrations.

Ismail H. Warsame

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