EDITORIAL | Very few people can predict Somalia’s political landscape these days. And the events of the last week were in line with this uncertainty. The general feeling, however, is that Somalia needs a solution on how to conduct elections.
So how did the country end up here? It is true that Somalia should have elections for a one-man vote by November this year. Every stakeholder failed to ensure that this happens, especially the Federal Government of Somalia [FGS].
In the wake of this failure, the leaders then agreed to meet in Dhusamareb, the capital Galmudug, to discuss Plan B. Plan B really did not come through, but FGS and the federal member states agreed to form a joint technical committee to look into options.
In two weeks, the committee is expected to make its recommendations, which may or may not be adopted. And that could mean we either want an election calendar or go back to square zero.
Mahdi Guled, acting prime minister, assured this week that the committee was allowed to work and promised commitment to “strengthen our democracy.” Gulaid has already chaired two cabinet meetings, reassured the public and spoiled certain foreign partners for interfering in their critical comments on Khaire’s deportation. All of these, however, indicate that he was already working on material issues.
But then Khaire’s shadow seems to hang over his entire office. His cabinet was appointed by Khaire, and some even voted against the prime minister on the floor of the House. There are questions about the legality of Khaire’s deportation, such as the lack of a proper movement made in parliament and that the prosecution agenda was not on the order paper on Saturday, July 25, the day he was fired.
The issue of legality has roped in opposition leaders who claim the idea was to derail Dhusamareb. President Farmaajo, for his part, claims that the “independence” of parliament means that he could not overturn the decision.
During Farmajoo’s three-year term, however, Khaire is not innocent. He led the executive arm of the government and appointed and assessed ministers. He was accused of securing economic programs, political steps were taken. To his credit, Somalia is now eligible to borrow again from international markets. The military is better managed after ghost workers were removed.
But Khaire’s report card on the political scene was bad. He was indecisive and could not resolve the ongoing quarrels between FGS and the federal member states. He failed to oversee a constitutional review and the National Independent Electoral Commission [NIEC] complained that it had no resources to run the polls. Some key opposition figures even accused him of harassing them.
With his departure, perhaps FGS and everyone else who saw him as a stumbling block have lost a scapegoat. They know they can now work on their priorities.
However, Khaires’ resignation has not solved the problem: What election model will be used and when will the election take place? Some have claimed that he had hampered Farmaajo’s legacy by planning his own political ambitions. Others say he was removed so that the possibility of timely election becomes invalid and so that supporters of the election period can argue for their cause.
None of these are about what ordinary people want. It was encouraging that Acting Prime Minister Gulaid promised to ensure that the program was not disrupted. But Somalia is still an uncertain policy: whether he will survive in the post or be thrown out, and thus also Khaire’s cabinet, is a question that Farmaajo can only answer.
It has been encouraging to see the chairmen of both houses of parliament galvanize support, especially from the critical opposition groups. But it will be up to President Farmaajo to decide whether a prime minister he appoints is someone who brings public confidence or ensures that his political ambitions are taken care of. Only one of them enjoys public support.