I wrote an open letter to HE the President of Somaliland asking him to take advantage of the lull in the political crisis and lead the Nation in reforming its broken constitution. Unfortunately this fell on deaf ears. His priorities are elsewhere and no near Somaliland’s peaceful coexistence.
This left me wondering about his state of mind. Does he want to be remembered as the most power hungry president of Somaliland? Does he believe that this crisis will just fizzle out? What happened to his experiences in the fight against tyranny? To be honest, no one can come up with a rational explanation for his silence and inactivity.
Is the President Sick or Intentionally Confusing?
In Africa, there is tendency to always point accusing fingers to ubiquitous yet shadowy inner circle of ‘advisors’ for the ills of the presidency. The same is going round in Somaliland at the moment. Our African President are always either ‘sick’ or ‘tired’ while at the same time ‘strong’ and ‘in charge’ These contradictory status is delicately managed to deflect criticism and instil confidence. Anyone not familiar with this modus operandi of Africa’s Big Men do your research.
There is no one who has not heard that the President is sickly or is tired and that he does not wish to continue with the draining job of being a president. But despite all these rumours what we always see is a President who is quick in travelling, performing physically challenging acts of Umrah, attending foreign meetings some of which, if we are to believe WIKI Leaks, are existential threat to Somaliland’s sovereignty.
I once happened to have participated in a small gathering in London Heathrow where an individual gave the President a honest constructive criticism specifically as regards the conduct of his government Foreign Policy. This was well before his government’s rapprochement with Somalia. The President was not only livid with anger but repeatedly shouted his deep confidence in Dr Mohamed’s work. It will be extremely strange for the same government to pass the Wiki Leak scandal to Dr Mohamed but believe me that is not farfetched possibility.
The Transformation of Silanyo
HE President Silanyo came to power with a thunder, he promised heaven. He was frustrated with the open disregard for constitutional law by his predecessor, HE Riyale. He disparaged large ineffective government, complained about the runaway corruption amongst others. This was a man who had the educational training, the political experience, the vision of the freedom fighter. He was simply the best amongst his equals.
On his thin election, we were convinced beyond any shadow of doubt Somaliland was in safe, experienced and passionate hands. Foreign educated professionals were brought in to man cabinet posts; foundation stones were laid all over the place; ministries erected offices across the capital, the Somali currency was purged from circulation. The energy was self-apparent. Everyone with the exception of remnant rent seekers, were happy. The Promised Land was within view.
And then the most trustworthy cabinet minister in charge of Finance, Mohamed Hashi was dismissed. It was the beginning of the end of the honeymoon. Ministerial budgets become the ministers’ pocket money; clannish politics reared its ugly face in broad daylight; projects remained at the foundation level; Parliamentary bills were replaced by presidential directives; media harassed left right and centre; demonstration squashed with bullets. Somalia became the only Foreign Policy Agenda. The government only strategy was to be seen to work rather than actually work; symbolism replaced substance. The Dream disfigured into nightmare. The view of the Promised Land is slowly turning into another horrid mirage.
HE Silanyo has gone a notch further and decided to undertake what is clearly a constitutional coup. When you purposely discard the constitutional process, atrophy-ise the other arms of government, rule by Presidential Dictate you will have taken your country to political and constitutional Siberia. Somaliland constitution has effectively be rendered useless. What has happened in Somaliland is a Constitutional Coup by Silanyo. No amount of sugar coating can change this reality. Silanyo’s legacy is in complete tartars. History will not be sympathetic to him.
Spread of the rot
A brief look at the entire government and even opposition will tell you the reality on the ground. Parliament is still filled by members of a party that is supposedly deregistered (UDHUB); The Speaker of the House of Representative is illegally in office as he defected from the party that elected him to that office – UCID and there was no any new laws or an election that legalized his position; the House of Elder is filled with toddlers and wives of members who passed away despite the absence of any statutory provision that allows such inheritance of position; the President intentionally fails to prepare for election and lead the country into unchartered constitutional mess.
Opposition Manifesto was reduced to photo opportunities and parties in hotels. Facebook is replete with defection and counter defections, circular motion only politicians in Somaliland seem to understand. No single entry on the thousands of Facebook pages informs us of a policy meeting of the opposition parties. It is just an endless dance, defections and damnation. Chairmen and Secretaries are appointed everyday but not a word on alternative policy or strategy is offered. The whispers of clannish agenda and extortion of contribution for pretend political parties is the order of the day. Pay donation and don’t ask a question is the new rule.
Hypocrisy of the Opposition
Elections are not organized in months. Preparations for elections normally take years. While the responsibility, and perhaps the most important responsibility of any democratic government, is to prepare for the next election. This is done through the development or strengthening of the election institutions – The Election Commission through development of the required statutory instruments and allocation of the requisite fiscal and managerial resources.
In a functioning democracy, the work of the opposition is to scrutinize the government’s efforts in making such preparations. This is done through through scrutiny of Annual Budgets and Parliamentary Bills. The opposition is supposed to sound out the government for any intentional or unintentional failure to do so. But did we hear anything from the merry making opposition? NAH. What we constantly get are the circular defection of the same faces and their homecoming parties in hotels across the world.
Hear No Evil See No Evil Ciiro
As we know, our Parliament is just but a rent seeking shell that was led by non-other than a politician who is campaigning around the clock to take the presidency. Hon Ciiro treacherously led the Parliament for four years without questioning any Budget Estimates and never complained for the absence of relevant Bills on Election. All we heard was the approval of Budgets and confirmation of endless appointee of individuals to man non-existent institutions. We neither heard him criticize government on the complete absence of Bills dealing with Election organization nor lack of allocation for Election Commission. Ciiro and his counterparts in UCID were more obsessed with the individuals that were to be put in the Electoral Commission. Talk of watching the cheer girls rather than the game!
His perpetual campaign had the feeling of anointment –the chosen one, rather than serious preparations for competitive electioneering. Does he know that our constitution is abrogated by Silanyo’s illegal extension of power or the continued presence of UDHUB in the House of Representatives? Is he aware that we are now technically in the dark as there is no any provision in the constitution or the laws that provides guideline or procedure to deal with the current limbo? Is this serious to issues?
About Turn! Weak March UCID
UCID’s constant reminder of WADANI’s slavish support for the government has been stretched a bit too far. As all these were happening or rather not happening, UCID were also represented in Parliament. If KULMIYE intentionally frustrated the organization of the Election so did the opposition parties by association. UCID love hate relationship with KULMIYE is as bad as is WADANI otherworldly look at politics. Instead of coming up with substantive opposition based on well-articulated political arguments, Faisal and his lot in UCID sound like they are desperate for attention whatever the case. His constant shift is reminiscent of the desert sand dunes – constantly on the move.
As for Jamal, you cannott help but sympathise with him. He is trapped in a party that is essentially own by individuals. He is not free to expound his vision as he may be embarrassingly contradicted by the greying men of UCID.
I have to state that Jamal replied to my queries about the need for constitutional reforms in the positive. But this was done in the privacy of Facebook messaging. I am yet waiting for the public admission to the need for reform to date.
Comprehensive Constitutional Reforms
Anyone who had a doubt that our politics is broken has the evidence now. Somaliland is in a constitutional mess. My dear Somalilanders, no amount of political compromise with help Somaliland at this juncture. Remember a problem postponed is a problem compounded. Our problems at the moment can only be tackled through comprehensive constitutional reforms. Let all join hand and wrestle our collective fate from this messed lot.
This time around we need a clear constitution that will get rid of powerful presidency (if Silanyo can turn like this who do you trust will not metamorphosis-ize into a new Siad Barre?); replace presidential system with parliamentary system (thus take politics from Hotels to Parliament); assure devolution through decentralization (cure the One country one town one street syndrome); define a comprehensive Bill of Rights; give institutions the power they need to undertake their functions without undue interference (ministerial and presidential decree should be history); discard the three party rule (they failed to live up to their original purpose as they have been reduced to personal properties); define a clear mathematical rule for Budgetary Allocation (to ensure wider development of the country)
Somaliland shall survive these politicians