Friday, October 21, 2011

Democracy Action Group-SL. Somaliland : A Task For A Leader

Democracy Action Group-SL. Somaliland : A Task For A Leader
Written by M.Musa   

The Economist Magazine, in its October I, 2011 issue (Democracy in sub-Saharan Africa; It is progress, even if it is patchy), lauded the spread of democracy in Africa in the last decade. In the same article the Economist also listed the peaceful and democratic ousting of several ruling parties by opposition parties. In the same the article listed President Ahmed Mohamoud Silanyo and Somaliland 4th in a list of 34 heads of states and countries that underwent peaceful and democratic change of guard. This is an honour for President Ahmed Mohamoud Silanyo; a statesman who many expect to change the politics of the region. In the same instance, it also included Somaliland; a country which rose; like a phoenix, from the ashes of a destructive civil.

In another development, President Silanyos recent visit to the eastern regions of the republic was another commendable and successful step. He extended a peaceful political outreach to both the traditional and political representatives of the Sool and Sanag regions. This step is expected to be the foundation for the success of the scheduled Taleex meeting around the end of this year. The initial signs coming out the community show that the majority of the region's leadership is willing to establish peaceful co-existence within the sovereign boundaries of Somaliland.

The resulting outburst from an official from Puntland who opposed the Taleex meeting further attests to those regions resolute decision to take their future in their hands, sideline many self-serving detractors especially from Puntland and discount many eastern region politicians who manipulated the regions politics to their own interest. The presidents' visit also discredited the opposition's unfound claims of the governments' collusion with Somalia politicians and the UN.

But, despite these successful measures by President Ahmed Mohamoud Silanyo and his government, we must not overlook the recent blunders of his administration. How it managed both the relief aid to Somalia and the scholarships from Turkey was a political fiasco. Both incidents created a public relations nightmare for the president which forced him to further blunder (the UF word fiasco) in defence of his government's actions.

The government lacked political foresight by how it managed the aid to Somalia. By appointing the well known and respected Somali poet, Hadrawi, the administration was either naïve about clan-oriented implications or decided to disregard the sensibilities of the populace. Despite his fame as a literary icon among all Somalilanders, Mr, Hadrawi is also known for his pro-unionist political views and staunch support the Pan-Somali irredentist ideology of the past; a view which sadly contradicts the aspirations of his country and the inviolability of its' sovereignty.

In a similar disregard, the government showed its lack of political prudence by how it handled the Turkish scholarship. It showed a lack of public relations foresight when it allowed the Somaliland students nominated for the Turkish scholarship program to depart from Mogadishu, a public relations blunder which translated to a propaganda boon for the TFG in Mogadishu. The government could have opted to pay the groups' airfare direct to Ankara to sidestep the political minefields of Mogadishu. The scandal was further exacerbated by President Silanyo's radio interview in response to the opposition's claim that his government is in cahoots with the United Nations Somalia Representative, Ambassador Augustine Mahiga who recently visited Hargeisa. It is a not a secret that Ambassador Mahiga's mandate is to re-establish a unified Somalia, an agenda he never deviated from in all his political briefings, community meetings and press releases since his appointment in June 2011 by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon as his Special representative for Somalia.

To overcome the population's pesky mistrust of the issue which is often misused by the opposition, the government must adopt and publicise a transparent and coherent foreign policy towards Mogadishu. In addition to its often stated mantra "The Holiness of Sovereignty", the administration must also publicly state all the issues which need cooperation with Mogadishu as required by the UN in its Somaliland/Somalia mandate.

The administrations shortcomings and public relations disappointments are further aggravated by the continuous stream of public misgivings. The emergence of powerful financial and political power brokers within the Presidents family is a continuous debate among Somalilanders. Many claim that President Ahmed Mohamoud Silanyo is not living up to his election promise of curbing nepotism in the political and financial matters of the government.

While in the opposition, the president often accused the last government of Dahir Riyale of corruption and blatant nepotism. Kulmiye often pointed to Dahir Riyales close family members who wielded a powerful influence over the treasury, the administration high level appointments, and local and foreign investors. As a result, the majority of the public who voted for President Silanyo in the last presidential election were expecting the end of this practise and many are now disheartened by the current nepotistic atmosphere that is over shadowing the many other progressive measures implemented by his government.

This is crucial now more than other time due to the recent political and economic developments in the region. The Saudi and other Middle Eastern governments are now willing to reopen the import of Somali livestock to their markets. According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, Saudi Arabia imports $250 million worth of Somali livestock for the Haj period, the lion's share from Somaliland. This number is expected to rise to $500 million a year by 2913 when the Saudi market is opened throughout the year for Somali imports. Lebanon, India and other Middle Eastern countries are also expected to permit Somali livestock imports to their countries

Ethiopia is also expected to join the energy-producing counties soon. Its gas production which is expected to go online soon is expected to be shipped through a corridor that passes through Somaliland. Many in Somaliand expect that President Mohamoud Ahmed Silanyo negotiated a profitable deal in his last trip to China where the Ethiopians were finalizing the project's requirements.

Both developments are expected to drastically increase Somaliland's revenues; a shift that could potentially play a major role in the economic development of many sectors in Somaliland. But the current claims that allege the spread of nepotism among the President's family and inner circle, could be a detrimental factor that could potentially derail the expected benefits of both enterprises. The exclusion of local businessmen and merchants from these and other profitable contracts is also a guaranteed precursor to social unrest that could derail the country's peace and security.

The President, at the beginning of his term, showed the will to curb corruption by appointing Engineer, Mohamed Hashi to Ministry of Finance. The president was lauded for this since Mr. Hashi is famous for his financial integrity and no-nonsense approach in stamping out corruption from the public sector.

Now that the stakes are higher, many hope that President Silanyo would show his grit and sweep all allegations of nepotism from his doorstep.

M. Muse

Democracy Action Group-SL

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