Somaliland:The Next Big Shot After President Silanyo
The president’s long aspiration to politics has come to an end when he eventually declared that he would not run for a second term election next year, but would rather like to retire and leave the office for the parties’ best presidential contender. He realizes that the superb and sordid experiences he encountered in his life before he was elected president were enough to make a landmark in the history of the people he ruled and lived with for a long time in the country.
He is greatly satisfied with the accomplishment he made in the wilderness when he led SNM Fighters and plunged into a headlong war against Siyyad Barre’s strong arm in 1980s, and later, upon his election to office, on the quick developments he made on infrastructure, economy, health, education, and on the renovations and rehabilitations of government offices. He dared to embellish ranks on the shoulders of soldiers who for a long time had no status or titles to rule among themselves. Most importantly, he recently lured DP World to invest on Berbera Port, thereby creating and encouraging outstanding economic growth and development for the nation in future.
He is a traditionalist, a sage and an old time scholar from the UK. He did much to strengthen peace and narrow the rifts of discord between family feuds and warring clans. His likes to group clans together toward synchronization and development before he rests.
It is in this background that the presidential candidates of the three parties are pulling up the hems of their dress to their shins to launch political campaigns and outmaneuver each other in competition to win his chair. They want to replace a charismatic leader and rule a fragile country which is not yet recognized by the international community and which is more so highly characterized for its adherence to indigenous culture and practices of traditional values structured on ethnicity. They want to lead a nation which is encroached by poverty, unemployment and is plagued by wide spread corruption.
The contenders are relatively young and highly motivated to run for the March Election, despite the doubts they have on the number of voter cards they could hoard in the race, because it is a subtle skill to win voters’ hearts that made it a habit to support only a kinsman or a generous feeder. They are all hopeful, yet the prospect of winning the chair by a particular contender, is to many citizens up still a puzzle. In places where people come to socialize through arguments are always head over heels about the best replacement or choice.
For example, the sympathizers of UCID opposition party candidate, Mr. Jamal Hussein, cheer up at the mention of his name in news papers and on TVs. They show the pride that he studied in the US and had much money from an international bank he worked for in Tanzania. They are on the belief that education and money together would make strong indicators of success in the race.
But this could only be a dream and a flash on a hot pan. In the eyes of his opponents, Jamal is only a novice in Somaliland politics. He has been slipping down to snares of political blunders since 2011 when he jumped onto the platform and joined UDUB party and had lobbied candidacy amid its members. He spent much money on a tattered party structure which gave way election to Kulmiye party only a year earlier. He fell flat on the ground and had lost both money and the support to nomination. Then he doubled back and petitioned membership and support for presidential candidacy to UCID Party, a political organization ruled by an unpredictable chairman who himself had fell short in two presidential races (in 2005 and 2010). He entered into a contract with a man who enjoys pinning other people down. For now, almost a year, the two had been at loggerheads with one another after having disagreed over a new replacement proposed by the party chairman, but not authorized or recommended by the party congress or party central committee.
The fallout led the demise of the party structure .The outlook of the opponents of UCID Party is that with a few months remaining the election day, it would look pretty hard for the party to re-assemble its annoyed members and reconcile the chairman and the ambitious election campaigner. They foresee a bleak future for the Harvard educated contender.
On the other side, the Wadani opposition party campaigner, Mr. Abdirahman Irro, who is now the speaker of the parliament, is reputed to have a longstanding experience on the politics of the country. In the 1970s when finished his high school education, he was conscripted to the staff of the ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Somalia. He had worked as a diplomat in some foreign countries and had at last been, when Somaliland broke off with Somalia, a counselor in Somali Embassy in Russia. He left the embassy and fell in with Faisal Ali Warabe in Finland, who had just begun to found his party (UCID). In 2005, Irro was elected the Speaker of the House, and later, only after a few years and in a subsequence to party’s policy disagreements, the two broke off with one another, and ultimately this led the Speaker’s founding of his current party (Wadani). He maintains a rising political graph throughout and enjoys the support of one of the biggest clans which though sprinkled in the different regions has strongholds in Burao (west) and in Eirigavo.
The political history and future of the speaker is , however, contradicted by the supporters of other parties, particularly KULLMIYE, the ruling party, who assert that he lacks the charisma to lead a fragile country which only years ago had got evolved out of prolonged civil wars. They see in him a fence-sitter who cannot reach outright decisions when the worst becomes the worst. The fights he engaged against one of his deputies insinuates that he cannot maintain discipline and order in motion sessions held in the House of the Parliament much less lead a frail nation. They also rebuff the strength of euphoric support he reckons he could secure in the election because they claim that the sub clan that constitutes the majority of the clan umbrella is an offshoot in the Ethiopian territory.
The last candidate in the race, Muse Bhii, is from Kulmiye party (the ruling party), and he is as well a popular figure in the political arena of this country. When he finished his high school in Amoud in 1970, he was recruited as a military officer by the Somali government. He joined the department of aeronautics and was trained as a successful pilot. Just a few years before the outbreak of civil war in Somalia in 1988, he got a scholarship from a military academy in the US and had upon his return to Somali territory, defected to SNM for guerilla warfare in Ethiopia against the Barre regime. He fought for a long time alongside Silanyo who was then the chairman of the fighters, and had after the break away of Somaliland from the Somali, been made minister of Interior by president Egal. Since then he takes the pride that he has been a close associate of president Silanyo who supports him and sees him as the rightful heir for the chair. Amid SNM fighters, he and his deputy party chairman, Mr Kahin, stand out as the icons of glory that the president picks up and presumes would follow his footsteps and lead the nation along the lines and principles described in the chart of the ruling party (Kullmiye). Like George Bush senior was to president Ronald Wilson Reagan who was one of the greatest presidents ever remembered in the American history, Bihi, it seems, has the advantage of putting on the clothes of a famous president; he also shares reminiscence with Thabo Mbeki (an ANC veteran) who replaced Nelson Mandela when he left the office in Pretoria at the turn of the millennium. Moreover, he has the shore up of two (his and the president’s) of the three biggest mid-zone clans plus those of the Hawd Region.
He is criticized for haughtiness, anger and despotism, but his proponents quickly ward off this argument by indicating that the country needs an intermarriage of democracy, traditional and autocratic styles of management, since they claim the country is fragile and thus calls for a considerate networking of the different styles. They emphasize that peace is a prerequisite or a paramount requirement for development of the nation. In places where upheavals or revolutions occur, peace is usually restored by strong governments. For instance, in Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan and Nigeria (democratic countries), the armies are on the lookout to restore peace and democracy when civilian governments fail to rule their countries. They claim that being a soldier doesn’t necessarily mean that one cannot lead a nation. They call this only a hoax; on the contrary, generals made better leaders than their civilian counterparts in the under developing world. In America itself, George Washington, General Gerald Ford and George Bush who was a pilot in the Vietnam War were, after all, military men.
Notwithstanding the political campaigns the candidates would exercise in the mid-zone areas , where they are natives, there would also be in the election other big clans (non-Isaaqs) in the fringes (on the east and on the west) who would boast on substantial numbers of voters cards in their regions. These regions are equally important for the campaigners, because they would certainly affect the balance of their scales in the election.
I wish to conclude my analysis on NEXT BIG SHOT by reiterating that the president has shown the readiness to hold the election on time (March 28) and would meanwhile like to leave the office for the best contender in the election race. He thinks it is time to give way to young people to rule the country, for which he had for a long time been, a celebrity .The candidates are all distinguished politicians and are at different levels of preparations for the forthcoming event. Mr. Jamal Hussien is an educated person who is motivated to win an election, but is shrouded by shadows of misfortune. He is a candidate of a tattered party structure .Thus he has a slim chance to win the election. The Wadani candidate, on the other hand, is a prominent figure who shows marvels in his political campaigns in the country. He has a considerable support under his sphere. The disadvantage, however, is that he lacks the courage to reach quick decisions when the worst becomes the worst. Moreover, the main support he expects to get from the supporters comes from his clan which is scattered all over the country and is even stretched to Ethiopian territory. Hence he can’t, like Jamal, anticipate a success in the election. Mr. Bhi is criticized for heavy-handedness and despotism. But this doesn’t necessarily downsize the numerous advantages he could earn in the race and qualify him to win the chair. He has the president’s support and the support of allied clans in the middle parts of country. He has also high hopes to draw clans on the fringes to his spheres of influence before the election hour. Consequently, In view of these speculations, it would appear that the ruling party candidate, Mr. Bihi, is nudging enough ground to be the heir of the presidential palace when the president retires and makes for his private dwelling in the Sha’b Area.
By Prof. Jama Aden Ali. Tel # 0634456128, E-mail: jamadan firstname.lastname@example.org