EDITORIAL | Somalia’s Mohamed Farmaajo, whose term expired on February 8, continues to ignore the scriptures on the wall. And as things go, there may be a small window left to save both his career and Somalia’s fate.
On Tuesday, the latest ominous sign came from a grouping of Hawiye clan members and professionals. Gathered in Mogadishu, they withdrew support for Farmaajo, expressing outrage at his decision to give his assent to parliament’s concept of extension.
A vote came from 400 delegates from Mogadishu’s most prominent clan with interests in politics and business, meaning they have sufficient influence in the capital. Participants include two former presidents, a former prime minister, opposition leaders and youth leaders, as well as other special interest groups.
Some have argued, perhaps correctly, that the clan as a unit of politics in Somalia may be behind the perennial chaos. But Somalia’s growing democracy borrows from its culture and history, which means that every son and daughter that the clans have brought up to serve their country considers their clan as the fundamental unit of politics. This is how Somalis have been organizing for centuries, and that’s why we can not throw away the bathing water with the baby.
This is why the clan, despite its shortcomings in other times, will remain influential in Somali politics and any leader who ignores it will perish politically. For Hawiye specifically, their influence in Mogadishu means that any change in the country’s political stability directly affects them, and their dissatisfaction simply means a more, big door, has been slammed in Farmajo’s face.
There have been other protests, more directly from Farmajoo’s rivals in the presidential race. This week, the National Salvation Forum warned against political instability as the term extension continues. And the presidents of Galmudug, Hirshabelle and South West have recently come under pressure from their own clans to clarify their position. The donors and partners have all rejected the extension and warned of a reassessment of the relationship, including the suspension of important programs in the security and humanitarian sectors.
Even in the face of these warnings, President Farmaajo has nevertheless chosen to go on a charm offensive and sought the hand of the African Union to join his ill-conceived and controversial time extension.
He did not read between the lines when, after meeting with President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo, he was told that Somalia must pursue its own consensus to avert a crisis. Sir. Tshisekedi, the current President of the African Union, agreed to support the dialogue in Somalia, an indication that the continental body is willing to step in.
But everyone knows that Farmajoo’s game plan is to get an approval from the AU to clean up his political dirt. Farmaajo benefits from his friends in Ethiopia, and knows that he can seek the involvement of the African Union because the body itself is deficient in operation: All leaders have hidden behind Article 4 (g) of the AU Constitutional Act on “non-interference in internal Affairs ”By members. In short, he can reduce the continental body to spectators, just as the neighbors did with the Tigray region.
This does not mean that the African Union is a useless organization. In fact, Somalia has much to thank the AU for setting up the African Union mission in Somalia, which has guarded Farmaajo and his palace, Villa Somalia.
We fear that Farmaajo has shown sufficient hypocrisy in the past. One day he insists on sovereignty when critics pour in. On the other hand, when faced with local unrest, he rushes to the African Union to be helped.
We believe that flip-flopping is meant to be a waste of time, and the best thing Farmaajo can do now is resume conversations, which will be the surest way to end this failure. It is beyond thinking the imagination to say that Somalia can organize elections for a person-a-mood in two years. It has not done so for the last 52 years, and Farmaajo has failed in the last four of his administration. What will happen if two years pass and there is an inability to hold universal suffrage as planned? Will there be a new call to extend? Our view is that Somalia’s indirect elections, no matter how incomplete, offered a better sense of security, enabling leaders to gain the necessary legitimacy to rebuild our cracked institutions.
Having no choice and having a president whose mandate is always in doubt could be cause for anarchy. Even his self-cleansing trips and calls abroad will pose nothing when chaos erupts. Everyone deserves a Damascus moment and we hope Farmaajo comes sooner.