Somali leaders must act decisively for country’s sake
Somalia’s Parliament was yesterday turned into a house of dishonour as legislators swapped the decorum of rational debate for chaotic shouting matches and placard-waving in a battle over a proposed vote of no-confidence against the Prime Minister.
The scene in the House was yet another instalment in the debilitating bickering of Somalia’s politics. The cast may be slightly different, but the script is the same. At the centre of the drama are President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed.
Just 10 months after the Prime Minister’s predecessor was forced out, the political stalemate has frozen government operations and created a situation that extremist groups like al-Shabaab have been exploiting. The Prime Minister cannot, for example, freely exercise his powers to appoint and dismiss Cabinet ministers because of hurdles placed by the President and his allies in Parliament.
There have also been allegations that a corrupt network of presidential advisers that runs a “parallel government” has been harassing state officers and frustrating some like the respected Central Bank Governor Yussur Abrar into resigning.
The power struggle would have been ignored by Kenya and other neighbouring countries were its implications for regional and international security not so dire.
International partners like the United States have already begun showing frustration by boycotting a conference next week in Denmark on Somalia and are threatening to cut financial aid.
The Western donors are the main source of funds to rebuild Somalia’s tattered institutions and their waning confidence is a sign that should not be ignored. Their worry, and rightly so, is that a weakened government would allow the extremists to regain control.
Some analysts say the problem may be in the Constitution that should be amended to unambiguously define the powers of the Prime Minister and the President. But what is clear is that President Mohamud bears most of the blame by going out of his way to sabotage his prime ministers and denying them political capital.
Instead of working towards stability in a country that has known little peace in the last 25 years, the President and his cronies appear intent on engineering failure for their own selfish reasons. It is time for President Mohamud to cover Somalia’s nakedness with the dress of selflessness and compromise and allow the country to move forward. The petty political bickering must end.
He owes it to the people of Somalia and the world. There are no two ways about it.