Unlike his predecessor, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamu
Somalis worry less about President Farmaajo’s clansmen taking over the “state” in Villa Somalia; many people worry about the possibility of Villa Somalia becoming a political tool exploited by his close friends. Cronyism is the real threat, they say. The anti-corruption policy lauded in a commentary in the Somali National News Agency (SONNA) website about the edict to declare ministerial assets is commendable so is the initiative to ask the public for ideas to improve governance. This reminds one of the Public Relations Office instituted by the military regime after 1969 coup although military leaders did not ask people to send their ideas through a personal email similar to the one created for President Farmaajo’s election campaign ( firstname.lastname@example.org
For London Conference to bear fruit for Somalia and its international partners President Farmaajo ought to remind Somalis the onus to make better use of the development aid is on Somali politicians who should know the intricacy of national politics but tend to ignore trust-building and transparency.
The four themes of London Somalia Conference reflect a commitment to sustaining “the progress …[ Somalia ] has made over the last 5 years“. To achieve benchmarks to be agreed at the conference, Somali leaders need to discuss the relevance and the practicability of the National Development Plan endorsed by the leaders of the federal states in their meeting in Mogadishu last week. Are Somalis ready for a planned economy abandoned by the military regime in 1986? The military regime did not draw up a national development plan after 1982. It adopted an economic liberalisation policy followed by IMF-guided Structural Adjustment Program. Research by professor Ahmed Samatar had shown that national development plans formulated by the military regime failed. In addition, Puntland has its own development plan; SomalilandGovernment is preparing one after the 2014-2016 National Development Plan came to an end last year. Federalism cannot go hand in hand with a centrally planned economy particularly in a country where national development plans meant food shortages and neglect of regions on the periphery. If national development plans failed in a functioning Somalia could they succeed in a fragile Somalia?
The other burning issue for the government is the 2020 elections plan. The 2020 agenda was prepared in the hope of the presidential election taking place on time last year. If leaders stick to the 2020 election plan President Farmaajo’s mandate will last less than four years. If the plan is amended, elections will take place in 2021.
London Somalia Conference is a major opportunity to show the international community that Somali leaders have learnt from past mistakes and that they are ready to take responsibility for their mistakes.