Op-Ed: Somalia is between Farmajo’s Way or the Highway

Somalia's Prime Minister Hussein Roble and President Mohamed Farmaajo. PHOTO | AFP
Somalia's Prime Minister Hussein Roble and President Mohamed Farmaajo. PHOTO | AFP


The constitutional mandate of the incumbent president has expired in February this year while the parliamentary and presidential elections were contentious. The embattled president and the federal member states several times had meetings on the type of the elections, but all their efforts ended up futile. On 17 September last year, the federal government and the FMS agreed to indirect elections where the clan delegates elect their representatives in the federal parliament both the House of the people and the Upper House. Though the political leaders have signed the 17 September agreement, because of their power greedy and hostile reception, a new disagreement erupted right after the agreement was tabulated. On 19 February, the federal troops opened live bullets to the protesters including the former prime minister Khaire against the incumbent government. On 12 April, the lower house unilaterally extended the term of the president.

As a result, the opposition, especially the presidential candidates pushed back this brutal decision taken by the government and embarked to split the national army. Several military units rebelled against the government and sided with the copperhead opposition. Many people have displaced from their residences in Mogadishu after a confrontation between the national army and the restive troops were imminent. After two weeks of hostile environment and the unstable situation was witnessed, on 01 May, the lower-house cancelled the term extension, and the election responsibility was handed over to the prime minister.  Since then, the situation was relatively calm.

A fresh rift among the president and the prime minister has erupted after the NISA has unleashed that, Ikran Tahlil who was a senior member of the intelligence was killed by Al-Shabaab. Right after the NISA’ report, the prime minister released another letter citing that, the report of the intelligence is too late and too little, and requested to come up with a detailed and fathomable report within 48 hours. The situation becomes intractable when the PM has fired the head of NISA who is one of the inner-circle of the president, and the mover and shaker for the last four years in Somalia’s politics. The president has called the PM’s decision unconstitutional and unwise, and rather urged the head of the intelligence to continue his business. Since then, both president and the prime minister have taken impromptu decisions and appointed different individuals to the National Intelligence Service Agency (NISA).


After the disagreement between the president and the PM became deadlock, and the smear campaigns increased, Galmudug and South-West states’ leaders have started mediation between both sides in order to de-escalate the festering situation. So far, the mediation hasn’t become successful, and both sides are insisting on their positions.

As Nic Cheeseman and Brian Klaas mentioned in their book (How to Rig an Election), “Authoritarian regimes face two challenges: External Opposition and Internal Betrayal”. If we internalize this concept, the president whose term has expired has employed during his term in the seat, knee-jerk actions, iron-fist rule and oppressing the dissenting voices. These coercive politics has resulted in enormous opposition against his government. While the president was encountering this challenge, the innocuous and politically toddler prime minister rebelled against him.

This makes him a dead man walking and lame-duck. Because, the PM already has already received much kudos from the international community and public accolades from the public and opposition, especially the Ikran’s justice case.

On the other hand, the president’s team engaged a character-assassination against the PM by citing that, the prime minister has sided with the copperhead opposition, and he is no more neutral.


The election process and political violence

The Upper-House elections are almost close to be finished. Four federal member states have already started elected most of the seats allocated, while the filthiest state (Hirshabelle) is about to finalize today (Tuesday).  On 22 August, the five federal member states along with the prime minister have announced the procedures of both houses of the federal parliament. The election procedures were given extra power to the federal member states, the incumbent president’s role was squeezed, the traditional elders’ roles were diminished and state-level clan-delegates was capacitated. Additionally, the role of the Federal Election Implementation Team (FEIT) was eviscerated and holds the only a titular position, and the role of State Election Implementation Team (SEIT) was enhanced. Furthermore, the candidates for the House of the people were embedded for the slippery-slope process.


This was a clear indication how the states’ leaders want to manipulate the election. Because, the elected senators for the Upper-House so far is dominated by fraud, meddling and manipulation from the states’ leaders. But, leaders of the states are announcing verbally that, the Upper-House elections were fair and square in order to pull the wool over citizens’ eyes. These naked interventions emanate from the states’ leaders stymie the transparent of the elections, and can trigger a violence. Because, elections often go hand in hand with violence in counterfeit democracies. Also, elections should sound the death knell for political violence.


Ikran’s case

As the primary responsibility of every government is to protect its citizens, the case of Ikran’s justice, the murdered female intelligence is ironclad. Though, the scorched-earth election campaign may have deleterious consequences on the security and stability of the country. But, the patron-client logic of the president, especially the case of notorious Fahad Yassin, former head of the intelligence will leave with egg on his face. Because, government’s hell-bent on crimes, impunity and extra-judicial killings became rampant for the past four years. The poverty-stricken justifications of the government on the slain female intelligence is condoned and morally incorrect. In a fragile state which is recuperating from the bad legacy of the civil war, is yet facing three dynamics of violence, government-led, opposition-led and spontaneous outbreaks from the public. As Nic and Brain indicated in their book (How to Rig and Election) “By doling out of slices of the government pie, then such governments are liable to fragment dangerously when there are only crumbs left”. Because, Ikran was under “Missing” since 26 June, and after two months and a half, the government hasn’t come up with an acceptable justification, rather conflagrates the situation and deludes the public.


My peerless advice to the Farmajo

As a populist leader who came to power in Feb 2017 with the good moral campus of the public and the parliamentarians who gave him the votes as a reflection from the mass, Farmajo’s system is on the wane from now on. His argument towards Ikran’s case doesn’t hold water, rather indicates confession. His government committed unprecedented national treasons including but not limited to the extradition of Qalbi-Dhagax, the illegal attacks against the dissenting voices, the Trojan horse deal with the tin-pot partners Abiy and Afwerki, the murdering of Ikran and a plethora of others. Farmajo is morally and politically bankrupt, and his leadership was a blessing in disguise. With all these blatant fiascos, I advise to Farmajo to think about “Soft-Landing” rather than “Hard-Landing”.

About the Author

Anwar Abdifatah Bashir. Lecturer @Somali National University and Horn of Africa Affairs Analyst.


Follow on him Twitter.com@Anwaryare1000



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