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Published On: Fri, Jun 20th, 2014

Somaliland and the Means of Politics

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My name is Mohamed Hagi Mohamoud. I was the General Secretary of the Somaliland Coast guard for a year before I moved to the UK, and I was a Civil Servant, rather than a military man for that position. Earlier than that, I have been working with the International Non-Governmental Organisations, LNGOs and other UN organisations as an Executive Director, Programme Coordinator and independent consultant for more than nine years to pick up the pieces of my life. At the same time I was also more involved the Somaliland politics and put my time more into the election campaigns from 2003 to 2010. In my fieldwork I worked different urban and rural places both in the Eastern part of Somalia known as Puntland and the Republic of Somaliland. This operation buttressed my experience on Somali politics, socioeconomics and the cultural life. Since then, I moved to the UK where I built up into a further education, and finally joined and secured a place one of the most prestigious Universities in the UK. I am now with The University of Warwick where I study Political Science and Sociology.

Although I was with Kulmiye party for its political campaign, which I believed the party will stand for the people of Somaliland in terms of economic and social development, auspiciously some of my thoughts came true and have been witnessed due to 400% of National Budget increase, the higher public employment, the State’s army forces ranking, (the Police, Coast Guard, Military, National Security and the Police Custodial Corps). The other perfection of social life in Somaliland has somehow reached in terms of country’s infrastructure, one good example is Buroa to Erigavo road that the people of Somaliland pledged millions of dollars. There are other advancement of such road networks in urban and rural areas, bureaucracy and sustaining social peace and stability, even though more needs to be done, for instance, maintaining the social cohesion and the sense of nationalism to safe and sound the country’s long-term peace plan, this principle is more related to understand and guide the philosophy of justice which is distributional concept of social equality of power and resource, and this is what needs to be done.

Since then I started to keep my mouth shut for all political issues, apart from some provisional advice to those whom I knew in the political arena, which I channelled my positive opinion based on fairness, national consensus of contradictory issues and bridge building matters.

In thus speaking, I am not in a position to criticise and find guilty to anyone or to any specific group. All I want from this piece of academic writing is only to stick a moral principle and the higher rank of inclusive political stability to diminish unnecessary routine crisis, which mainly based on self-interest oriented under unsubstantiated argument. My Statement will clarify to the people of Somaliland to understand politics as a concept, the democratic principles, the State and legitimacy, the rule of law and the true meaning of political parties, particularly why a State needs them to exist and the political ideology behind why we want political parties. I am outlining here these principles and widely express these fundamental political theories in order to trigger the concept of peace and stability of a nation within the phenomenon of democracy under the rule of law.

Politics as a concept

As Harold Laswell Stated politics is who gets what, when and how. These heavy words explain how politics is broad and wide-ranging concept that all-encompassing the way of life of the human being, when it comes the distribution of resources, life chances and the well-being. One good example of politics and its concept was revealed by the great philosopher Aristotle, he described politics as an exciting because people disagree. They disagree about how they should live. Who should get what? How should power and other resources be distributed? Should society be based on cooperation or conflict? And so on. They also disagree about how such matters should be resolved? How should collective decisions be made? Who should have a say? How much influence should each person have? And so forth, for Aristotle’s argument, this make the politics the master science, that is less than the activity through which human beings attempt to improve their lives and create the Good Society. If I shed light on and elucidate the real Aristotle’s definition of these questions in relation to Somaliland politics it will interestingly help the young generation of Somaliland whom the country belongs to. By understanding the true colour of political crisis between any rival groups.

Politics when refer in the Western culture is all about building the economy through a reliable infrastructure and employment, those who fail to build this paradigm must leave. Politics is more than what governments choose to do or not to do, it is more about how we live in peace and stability. To construct peace is wider than how the government settled peace building political strategy, it must be civic nationalism, which based on public relations and orientation. For instance, governments cannot make peace through a barrel of a gun, what is happening in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Democratic Republic of Congo are good examples. It is always the civic collaboration, which assure peace and stability. A viable economy based on equality and fairness is the greatest success of peace assurance. If that is the case, a question needs to be answered, it is somehow simple and undigested, because we hear so many times people arguing by blaming different politicians. I wonder if this could be the indispensable response to the question in order to solve the problem of the monotonous political crisis. In my opinion, the problems we have in our politics is far from what politics is all about, because politics is not about individuals’ self-interest; it is about building a nation’s economy, health, education patriotism to avoid partisanship, this should be based on political stability and social cohesion, this is what politics stands for.

In contrary, to a newly born post conflict nation, formed in a tribal political system, which internationally unrecognised like Somaliland, politics must rely on compromise and consensus. Because people are not equipped with knowledge, and their understandings are baseless for the lack of Civic Nationalism, which is always inclusive. The politics necessarily requires in this phenomenon a clear political system, which is full of compromises and dialogue. For that reason, consensus means agreement, but it refers to an agreement of a particular kind. It implies first, a broad agreement, the terms which are accepted by a wide range of individuals or groups. Second, it implies an agreement about fundamental or underlying principles, as opposed to precise or exact agreement. In other words, a consensus permits disagreement on matters of emphasis or detail. A procedural consensus is a willingness to make decisions through a process of consultation and bargaining. A substantive consensus is an overlap of ideological positions that reflect agreement about broad policy goals. Therefore, in recent Kulmiye skirmish status quo shows that consensus has not been made whatsoever, and that is why we still see yet not last complications. In this consensus matter, the mainstay and the backbone of building bridges is only put its faith on the substantive articles of the national  constitution as well as the party constitution. In this scenario its very important to stay away the first face of political power, which is power as decision making, the face of power consists of conscious actions that in some way influence the content of decisions. For example, the use of force or intimidation to solve a problem in politics this is called (the stick), it incarcerates citizens who opposed particular agenda of the ruling group, and this situation creates violence and damages the country’s political image. Secondly, the productive exchanges involving mutual gain (the deal), this is to collect and a give enticement for some seasonal confidantes in order to receive sustenance to feed your interest; this jeopardises the enforcement of rule of law and ultimately creates authoritarian system. Finally, the creation of obligations, loyalty and commitment, (the kiss), this phase of political power agreed on as the worst aspect of use of power, it starts from where the elected leader nominates mostly selection of children of ministers or other government subordinates whom contribute no advice to him but conforms him. This leader who uses these powers of the stick, the deal, and the kiss is said to be the illiterate politician, he doesn’t hear, doesn’t speak, nor participates in the political events.

He doesn’t know the cost of life, the price of the bean, of the fish, of the flour, of the rent, of the shoes and of the medicine, all depends on political decisions. The imbecile doesn’t know that, from his political ignorance is born the unemployment, the abandoned child, and the worst thieves of all, the bad politician, corrupted and flunky of the national and multinational companies.” Where the good politics is who uses Politics as the activity by which different interests within a given political unit of rule [or setting] are conciliated by giving them a share in proportion to their importance to the welfare of the whole community. It is the process of practical and ongoing reconciliation of the interests of various groups which comprise the political as a whole.’ (Bernard crick, in Defence of Politics). I needed this leader for our country who understands the nature of Somaliland politics which is tribal political system, which has a democratically accepted constitution with democratic fundamentals of government, and that was the reason I campaigned for the incumbent President Silanyo. The question I am asking is, whether he is the man who has that cryptogram, to discover the meticulous answer for this question you need to put yourself out of the political playfield or not a supporter for a one.

Democratic Principles

Democracy originated the term from the ancient Greece, which means ‘’rule by the people’’.  This denotes people to choose their leaders to hold them accountable to their policies. One factor that supports how democracy creates equality is, the way in which democracy encouraged individuals to exercise their rights in order to choose and declare their opinion freely. Democracy allows everyone, to know and become informed about the public matters and issues. This will allow every individual to watch how politicians his/her representative is doing or using the powers that has been given to govern. Individuals are equal when it comes to vote, and decide what and who to elect, each person has one vote, and he or she also has the freedom to choose between parties. So in that case, there is an equal distribution of political power and influence. In this sense, democracy created equality among the individuals within a society by giving the equal rights to vote an election. As Heywood (2013) pointed out, how people react when it comes to elect their leaders, and that democracy allows them to protect themselves from any potential hostility, ‘’ ultimately, protective democracy aims to give citizens the widest possible scope to live their lives as they choose, and the belief that individuals should entirely responsible for their economic and social circumstances’’ (p. 96). This ‘’lives as they choose’’ refers that democracy offers to everyone in the society to make his/her choice towards which way they want to live in terms of freedom from physical coercion, the freedom of speech and expression. This is to let people to exercise what they want and how they want it without offending or harming others. Therefore, this indicates that democracy stands for equality and freedom of individual live. If that is the case why the people of Somaliland out crying and making unnecessary noises, the answer is because they prefer tribal linkage than being a full nation. Therefore I would say there is no gap between the ordinary averages people of Somaliland and the so called educated office-bearers and elites, in terms of the considerate of the State principles and the nation building. Those who running the show, are absolutely have no idea whatsoever how States function politically, whilst the ordinary people have no idea what they need from the elected politicians on whether they have done their job of building the nation.

The State and Legitimacy

The State is a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory. So by definition State and the government are absolutely different, and just to be very clear about the full meaning of the State, I describe State as follows, Political Power + Territory, legitimacy, government + Nation = State. On the road to express more about this formula of the State, the Political Power refers people who have same ethnic roots, share culture and land must have the Political Power to secure their lives, protect their potential resources in order to defend the outside enemies, which might be the other societies who eagerly searching resources. This is what generated colonisation, annexation, occupation, invasion as well as the non-violent migration, which is now taking place parts of the world that formed the sustainable economies of their own. We see people are moving from one place to another because of economic and security problems. Political Power meant to solve those problems of unemployment and violence of any sort. According to Karl Maxx’s power as property of social system he Stated that ‘’Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given, and transmitted from the past’’.

This under circumstances directly encountered refers it’s the people of any country who choose how to live according to their history. Therefore, Somaliland people must continuously recall the bloodshed, massacre and extermination from the brutal regime of Siyad Barre, although this recall rally round the presence of Somaliland’s harmony and stability for many years, it must also do more to build the social fabrics, improve the doctrine of civic education to its youth and create sustained political and economic developments based on freedom, justice and rights. Secondly, Territory is the land and the sea in which States claim for their own, this could be international recognised borders, and the borders of Somaliland are the British colonial borders before the country unified with Somalia. Thirdly, Legitimacy this is one of the main paradigms that make possible for the States to exist in the first place, without Legitimacy, governments cannot function at all. Let us take an example of Democratic State People elect their leaders democratically, this election allows the government to serve its people, secure the peace and defend the territorial integrity of that State. So the term Legitimacy in this meaning is to declare lawful, the issue of Legitimacy is the rightfulness of a regime or system of rule. After the election citizens feel obliged to acknowledge the authority of a government, people have the duty to respect the State and obey its laws, legitimacy is the grounds on which governments may demand obedience from citizens. Somaliland is one of the blessed States that elect their leaders and those who represent its people.

Political parties are in place, people must vote the election time to which party they want peacefully, elections must be free and fair. Free means no constraints to who you want to vote for and fairness is about lack of corruption and fraud when counting votes in the electoral commission. After this sort of election, those who lose must accept the result and people must obey the elected leader and representatives under the rules and regulations of the country, which is constitutional. Fourthly, government is not the State, it is part of the State, and it is the operational body within the State where Politics and Power remains. People expect from the government to disperse power and other resources equally and fairly, bring justice based on the distributional concept, freedom which is the opposite of constraints or the absence of the impediments. People need freedom and democracy, freedom and physical coercion, freedom, rationality and morality as well as the freedom and the economic impediments, because freedom is best achieved when people are economically secure. This diagram shows how governments work within the State, bear in mind that government is not the State but part of the State.

Governing Institutions are the Executive Organ, they are the Cabinet Ministers, the President is the head of the Cabinet, the Parliament made of the two Houses of the Elders and the Representatives, and the Speaker of the House of Elders is the head of the Parliament and the third person of the State behind the President and his Vice President. The higher court, which is the constitutional court at the same time is the Judicial Organ. On the other hand, Executive Agencies consist of mainly the security bodies of the State, such as the police, the military and the NSA. Take into consideration, The President is the Head of the State and The Head of the Cabinet Ministers at the same time. Finally, nation is the people of a State, the word nation is sometimes turns into nationalism, which means a believe, faith that involves citizens of a country to become attach and stick to their nation or State, it means to love and provide support to State’s decisions and actions. People feel nationalism the days of war or the world tournaments like FIFA World Cup, here in the UK you see England flags waving around all over the country.

The Rule of Law

Another factor about democracy and how it creates equality is the adoption and practicing the rule of law. Democracy empowers the existence of law and order, where people will enjoy and live under rule of law. By utilising the rule of law democracy also created and encouraged the governmental system of check and balance. This system was set in place to minimise the inaccuracies or improper behaviour within the organisations or national institutions of the States. Check and balance will not allow that some of the departments, such as the executive organ of a State government to control over decisions. And it fully prevents from individuals or departments having too much power over others, and it contrarily creates cooperation and progression of task development. This rule of law, play a vital role in the democratic system of governance, whether it is a public or private entity. On the other hand, democracy allows individuals when joining an organisation to accept the rule of law of that organisation and if they are not happy with these laws they have the absolute choice to leave or not join it in the first place. Although in the States it is really hard for individuals, and they have not the same option when it comes to oppose the State rules and regulations, and the reason is the majority of the people in that particular State voted and agreed on those rules, and the rest might obey. But still democracy provides the maximum protection to individual rights. As Garner (2012) pointed out the value and the advantage of democracy by practising in our systems will help lot about our freedom wellbeing of the entire society, ‘’democracy seems to offer us the ideal grounding for political obligation because if we make the laws under which we live, then they are likely to be in our interests and therefore we get what we want. In other words, we do not lose anything as a result of being in a political community’’ (p.79). This ‘’ we do not lose anything’’ refers as a democratic society living under the rule of law and freedoms of opinion, speech, movement and choice, we are not in a danger to misplace and fail our way of live. So in this sense, democracy also creates equality. And obeying the rule of law in the State is very important as it provides our security and freedom as well as our natural rights.

Political Parties

In the democratic world, people decide and elect their representatives in parliament; they also decide to elect the head of State at the national and local levels. By doing so in democracy, there are competing political parties in place, who are running for elections by undertaking political campaigns, which they want to earn votes to win elections against other political parties. This is a system based on one man one vote, where People have absolute rights to vote who they want through or by means of free and fair elections. In democracy people have the highest rank of the political authority because they choose their leaders for a reason, although power flows from them to their leaders after election, which is called the Legitimacy in Political Science. Leaders are temporarily elected by the people with these powers, and if people are not satisfied when the term ends they can easily change leaders peacefully, alternatively by voting other leaders. Each person whether poor or rich has one vote to choose who he/she wants to be his/her leader or representative, this refers equality and freedom where everyone can exercise his rights freely, to secure impartiality and fairness. The election to be free and fair, they have to be administered by a fair and neutral professional body, this organisation must give equal treatment to all political parties, and their candidates during the election times.

In conclusion, Somaliland people mostly understood the principles of democracy and the political parties, but unfortunately, politicians and those who run or eager to run the State are failed to understand the principles of democracy and the means of the State. Although Somaliland blessed in areas of peace, democracy and economic progression, the country is to a certain degree cursed for the reason that it lacks a good leadership, and there is an acknowledged marvel where technocrats never lead a State’s politics efficaciously. Therefore, in my piece of script I would like to mention what to accomplish in order to become politically stable, which means politics not to fail and cause violence within the Somaliland society. I am here to express some Political Principles to follow. Firstly as democratic State Somaliland leaders whether opposition or the governing party must understand the high core principles of democracy. For instance, democracy in this world, most of the States do Instrumental Democracy, which is illiberal where elections took place perhaps freely but not fairly. The Fundamental Democracy, which is the most successful paradigm in the civilised world can only be adapted if politicians and elites of country choose to do. To make the Theory of Democracy into practice in such an unrecognised country the following ten main principles must be fulfilled.

  1. Unified set of institutions; this is to employ compatible perspectives on the nature of institutions, subscribe to the main tenets of the “new institutionalism”. Institutions are the public government offices, which provide social services to the people. Those institutions must work together under the fundamental principle of authentic State politics together with justice and readiness of State’s interest.

  1. Controlling a given territory and society; the physical control of the territorial integrity is one of the fundamental principles of independency and State sovereignty. Physical control cannot be attained through physical coercion alone but the interest of predictable, recognisable, systematised methods of adjudicating disputes, and regulating both the norms and the prevailing mores of a particular society or polity. The base of both controlling territory and society is the human security for all, mostly it’s about providing health, education, equal distribution of resources and employability through a peaceful means of no one above the law.

  1. Making and enforcing collectively binding decisions; the fundamental principles that States are governed are their constitutions. When a particular decision is being made by a governing body, which is contrary to the nation’s constitution it may infringe the spirit of a constitution, rather than its precise terms. Within the government, the parliament is responsible to make the laws of a nation, to improve sectors of the economy, security wellbeing and the life chances of a society. In Somaliland there are still some main binding constitutional decisions need to be prepared such as the Bank Regulation and the International Investment Law. These laws are one of the main State laws for International Relations, they generate interest within the States and as an unrecognised country they can turn into crucial pillars of Somaliland’s prominence status.

  1. Monopolizing the legitimate use of force; this is the rightfulness of a regime or system of rule. Citizens must feel obliged to acknowledge the authority of a government, it’s the government that make them to understand the duty to respect the State and obey its terms of moral obligations, and more in terms of political behaviour and beliefs. This can be achieved through ‘’Trust’’ which means faith, a reliance on, or confidence in, the honesty, worth and reliability of nations leader and representatives. This occurs when politicians keep their promises and carry out their public duties honestly and fairly.

  1. Seeking sovereignty; people interpret the term sovereignty differently, I believe that Somaliland is not seeking its sovereignty from the International Community nor what so called the Federal Republic of Somalia. Sovereignty means in Political Science, autonomy, independence, self-government, self-rule, home rule, self-legislation, self-determination, non-alignment, and freedom, so and so forth. That fact is that Somaliland withdrawn its sovereignty in 1991 after a long war, which caused loss of more than 50,000 of the lives of civilians mostly women and children, after the bombardment of air strikes and the heavy artillery. The Capital city and other main city of Somaliland were entirely destroyed. After the declaration of the State, Somaliland physically controls its territorial integrity and waters, democratic system of government formed where President and Vice President, Member of Parliament and all City Council are elected. The country has its own constitution, money regulated by government Central Bank, Passports recognised to certain degree of other regional countries, a waving flag, and full security forces of police, military, coast guard, custodial police and National Security Agency are all fully function within the State.  Therefore, Somaliland is Legally an Independent Sovereign State, but seeking a political seat within the International Organisations like the UN, AU, IMF, World Bank, ICC, etc. the other thing to note, which people of Somaliland need to understand is the country never become part of Somalia, in 1960 when British Somaliland and Italian Somalia United, although Act of Union has never been signed the two parts formed The Somali Republic. Somalia was only the part under the Italian colonial system before 1960, legally when we comment Somalia it is only the southern part of what is called The Somali Republic

  1. Operating in a distinct public realm this scenario is what assures Statehood, it’s the idea of a State ownership. States cannot exist without the nationalisation of the State Assets. These are the public owned streets, pathways, parks, public accessible open spaces, playgrounds, airports, electric powers, water, energy industries, financial sectors and the information technology, so and so forth. Even the liberal democraticStates, which mostly capitalist States regulate and intervene one way or another Public Realm. Government cannot control the economy mostly the prise of the commodities as well as the State Security, without the interference or joint venture of some sort.

  1. Deciding citizenship and controlling entry; this is the State of being a member of a particular country and having rights because of it, or in other words, the State of living in a particular area or town and behaving in a way that other people who live there expect of you. Government must understand the philosophical agenda of citizenship, which is the doctrine of rights of citizens and their obligation to receive those rights. it is thestudy of the way in which a local government works and of the rights and duties of the people who live in the city. Freedom and sustaining liberty is one of the well-known factors countries improve their economy and secure peace and stability, because people’s principles of rationality and morality are in good faith, so they are free to think self-sufficiently. The other part of this Controlling Entry, which is Immigration Control. Movements of people from one country to another is an international phenomenon, Immigration can be based number of factors. Firstly people move from one place to another due to economic prosperity, in Somaliland the vast majority of its youth are unemployed, where some of them migrate from the country for a better life. So the question need to be answered is why under this situation neighbouring countries moving into Somaliland for economic reasons, while its citizens are travelling away. A government policy of border control is necessarily needs to be implemented and social research of these fields should be conducted.

  1. Accepted as legitimate; this is between the people and the politicians, where people choose to elect a political party (a leader or representatives) by voting and election. It is about majority vote, and who gets the most votes is the winner, and losers should accept the results. This is where people accept their leader or representatives during the elected term, it’s a political contract between people and politicians. People must wait the next election whether for change or to keep the same party, and the politicians responsibility in this matter is not to cause problems unless otherwise breaching the law or a substance of treason occur. In the legal system if the Head of the State brand the above issues, emerging powers of Parliamentarian will take place this is the condition of impeachment.

  1. Bureaucratic, constitutional, legal system; this is more about how governments work and what system of governance mark effective and efficiency in a democratic State. Bureaucratic means that the system of the government where most of the important decisions are taken by the State officials (civil servant, administration, government and directorate) rather than by elected representatives. Representatives make policies and they are always at the top the system to lead and develop the political system and the rule of law. Ministers initiate politics and they are always far-sighted and visionary, where Parliamentarians make laws. It must always be the Civil Servant who make government decisions, they are not elected or nominated but they are employed (hired) on the basis of professional merit as proven by competitive examinations. So every decision and government policy that is been made by the Civil Servants whether political or constitutional must be related to the legal system of the State.

  1. Recognised as a State by other States; finally, Somaliland is seeking international recognition for the last 23 years. In my very short Statement I would say the recognition stays with only two countries, UK and the US, all we need is to work hard with these countries, who have the premier diplomacy in the world. And off course, live peacefully with the neighbouring countries.

Mohamed Hagi Mohamoud a Political Scientist and a Social Researcher, and an author of Academic Articles in East Africa. Department of Political Science. The University of Warwick. Email: M.Hagi-Mohamoud@warwick.ac.uk.

Bibliography:-

  • Heywood, A. (2013). Politics. 4th ed. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Garner, R., Ferdinand, P. and Lawson, S. (2012). Introduction to Politics. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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  1. Mojo says:

    I think this chap can do with an English grammar course..

  2. Ali Omar says:

    Mojo,
    and you envy could do with a little bit of ice to cool down.
    for the record, I have never hear not know this guy but at least he has the confidence to write and do something with his life. Kudos.

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