EDITORIAL | U.S. Ambassador to Somalia Donald Yamamoto may be the number one public enemy, depending on who you ask. But he may also be a stone that masons almost rejected in Somalia.
In the last ten days, Mr. Yamamoto, the former deputy foreign minister for African affairs, set fire to controversy in Galmudug, where he joined Ahmed Kariye Qoorqoor as a new state president.
The local Sunni group (Ahlu-Sunna Wal-Jamaah (ASWJ) and other candidates had in fact boycotted the polls, arguing that there was a predetermined candidate. The United States, China, IGAD and the African Union all supported Qoorqoor.
Recently, however, he has called on everyone from Somalia’s federal government to federal states to work together on a common security goal.
“We recognize that Somalia is in a difficult phase in its journey towards democracy. While recent electoral processes were imperfect, we urge all Somalis to focus on reconciliation, ”Yamamoto said in a statement released by the embassy on Wednesday this week.
“By reaffirming reconciliation between the Somali Federal Government and the Member States, Somalia’s leaders will maintain their own commitments to increase political integration and pursue long – term peace, security and stability for all Somalis.”
However, this unity requirement is not always acceptable in Somalia, and Yamamoto may know it. First, there are problems between President Mohamed Farmajo’s government and federal member states (FMS).
Farmajo refused to recognize the re-election of Ahmed Madobe in Jubaland, citing erroneous choices. He ordered a repeated election there, which was never honored. He has problems with the management in Puntland.
In the Southwest, opposition politicians accused him of imposing a candidate. In Galmudug, Qoorqoor became a controversial choice despite the fact that he shares genealogy with most of his opponents.
When Yamamoto called on FGS and FMS to work together, it may have been a technical endorsement by all senior executives; whether they recognize each other or not.
But this comment came just as the federal government in Somalia deployed troops to Gedo, especially in Luuq in Jubbaland. Some flies on the wall have told Axadlethat this bid was intended to secure alternative capital in Jubaland, from which Farmajo could create a parallel government in Jubaland, which could ultimately weaken the administration of Ahmed Madobe.
Speculation was high Thursday night that the intention was to target local forces loyal to the volatile Jubbaland politician Abdirashid Janaan, who is said to have escaped prison in Mogadishu and fled to Kenya.
However, the United States opposes the idea of forming a parallel government in Jubbaland and has been keen to get everyone to accept the existing leadership as a starting point.
It defines the shortcomings of Somali politics. But the question is whether politicians would sit down faster to actually negotiate the election calendar, which should culminate in elections this year. Yamamoto said credible choices depended on how the five states and the FGS would sit down and discuss.
“All parties should negotiate in good faith, resist the temptation to act as spoilers and avoid destabilizing the political process in any way,” he warned.
Some analysts believe that Yamamoto’s controversial move has a long-term goal of convincing all stakeholders that he is no pocket yet.
“This is a step towards finding a dialogue between Mogadishu and Kismayu and Garowe. Accept the lack of choice in both Galmudug and Kismayu, ”said Horn of Africa analyst Abdimalik Abdullahi, referring to the capitals of Jubbaland and Kismayu.
“Then reinvent the leadership forum to focus on elections and security,” he added, referring to a collapsed routine meeting between heads of state and the federal government that would help implement Somalia’s security plan. The last such meeting took place in June * in Puntland, but led to no concrete goal.
In Somalia, there have been rare instances of political maturity. But everyone seems to know when a foreigner goes too far into local affairs. Yamamoto probably knew this last week when he joined Qoorqoor, even after the local Sunni group AWJ protested.
Abdirashid Hashi, the director of the Heritage Institute in Mogadishu, a local think tank, said the decision by the US government, for now, may be receptive to many people’s hopes.
“We agree with the US Embassy in Somalia on the need for mature politics in Somalia, and we have repeatedly reiterated that compromise, cooperation and consensus-based policy are the only option for the Somali elite.
“Not doing so is tantamount to strengthening al-Shabaab and failing Somali citizens,” he tweeted on Wednesday.
In fact, there are those who had accused Yamamoto of mixing up his country’s interests when he joined Qoorqoor in Galmudug.
Abdiwahab Shiekh Abdisamad, head of the Nairobi-based Southlinks Consultancy, had said that “had said a lot about where the United States stands in the ranks between regional chiefs and Farmaajo.” And warned that other federal state presidents opposed to Farmaajo, such as Abdullahi Deni of Puntland, Duale Haaf, the protesting former president of Galmudug, and Ahmed Madobe, should be careful that the United States would master their removal.
In this case, Abdirahman Abdishakur, leader of the Wadajir party, warned Al-Shabaab winner twice. Referring to the deployment in Gedo and the chaos that had arisen in the Galmudug capital Dhusamareb, it could divert the attention of everyone on al-Shabaab so that the group could regenerate.
“Doesn’t that mean the government is doing Al-Shabaab’s work for them?” he asked.
So should we trust the United States? It could be yes and no. Some analysts believe that the US position has always been how to reconcile FGS and FMS, regardless of the method used. “The American position is how to bring together all the regional states and the federal government. S
“So if the federal government can use the power through a rigged election, Americans will not consider the process, they will consider the outcome,” argued Abdalla Ibrahim, director of the East Africa Center for Research and Strategic Studies.
As Western countries are tired of turn-coat pulls among politicians, Ibrahim said donors may have to go for what is good for Somalia, rather than relying on personalities.
“All of these partners witnessed the election and duly congratulated the winner. But our politicians do not have an honest position, they change from time to time. “In Galmudug, Haaf and the ASWJ had participated in the parliamentary elections,” he argued, so that when they withdrew from the presidential competition, there was still the quorum to conduct the vote.
So who’s wrong here? USA, Haaf or ASWJ? ”
There are those who believe that the United States may have provided fuel to Farmaajo for hitting the hammer and tongs by shutting down federal leaders. “It seems that Farmaajo is not cooling down. He sounds, as always, having a green light from the United States. But let’s see in the coming days whether things remain the same, ”said Mohamed Hassan Idriss, Somali Federal MP from Jubbaland.
“I think it will be more difficult for him as we are very aware of Yamamoto’s move towards Somalia. I mean, Yamamoto’s policy towards Somalia will no longer be convincing to the rest of the nation. ”
The United States has been involved in Somalia since the 1940s and became stronger around 1977, when the despot Siad Barre sought support in the Ogaden War to counter the Ethiopian government, which was subsequently backed by the Soviet Union.
The political coalition, the Forum for National Parties (FNP), claimed that the transition to forced elections was symbolic of Farmaj’s bad record, but accused the US diplomat of being complicit.
“Yamamoto contradicts the fundamental principles of good governance and the promotion of democracy that are the pillars of US foreign policy,” they accused. However, they have not yet commented on the call to support any elected federal president.