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EDITORIAL: Two political novices to lead Somalia´s new dawn.
Somali Elections

EDITORIAL: Two political novices to lead Somalia´s new dawn.

Fathi Mohamed, Chief Editor, Bilan Media

After unanimous endorsement by the parliament, Somali’s new Prime Minsiter Mr. Hassan Khayre, a novice and newcomer to the political landscape, embarks a new venture that is markedly different from his corporate and humanitarian background, to a volatile and often tumultuous politics.

Mr Khayre, who until he was appointed to PM was minor shareholder of Som & Oil Gas Company, faces immediate and steep challenges that stems from, but not limited to, forming new lean cabinet, reorganizing the federal government institutions, charting a new path towards transitioning the country into one-man-one vote in 2020. In new aura of overwhelming expectation, the cabinet will define the premiership and, to larger extent, the presidency.

It is in this process of coming up with the names of ministers that the President and Prime Minister will confront the mounting pressure from the various political actors who are seeking to have their names included in the new cabinet. Among the major political actors who are already lobbying for cabinet posts include the federal member states – namely Jubba, South West, Galmudug, Hirshabelle and Puntland, and they have been relentlessly maneuvering around the new PM’s resident and office. Similarly, the Mogadishu-based political brokers, who often compose of various Islamist groups, clan affiliates, business groups, civil societies and former politicians are among the actors and lobbyist looking for new cabinet posts. Managing these various competing actors – and meeting their demands – is another major litmus test for Mr. Kheire’s leadership, who already made several promises to certain clans before his endorsement.

Previous governments have plagued by the infighting and bickering between PM and President, which ultimately result the PM’s ejection in vote of no confidence, and leads to political paralysis. Although the president Farmaajo promised a new era of political stability and zero-conflict with PM, yet the political infighting between the president and PM has its roots in the provisional constitution, rather than the political aspect. Strikingly, the last two presidents, Hassan Shiekh and Shiekh Shariif had six PM in each, and both have fought and finally fired two PM for each.

Additionally, the challenges ahead for the two Khayre will include how to handle with competing actors who have vested interest in Somalia, both locally and internationally.

“Long time powers deep based on interest and they are more powerful than government and they include security firms , business and humanitarian organizations” Abdishakur Abdirahman a former Minister in the Somali government recently tweeted.

And in many cases those would want to use financial influence to have their wishes met. Corruption has affected past administration and is one of the major impediments to the development of Somalia and the country is ranked highly in Africa for this wrong reason.

In seemingly blunt term, the new PM has recently tweeted: “We will tackle corruption I vow to prosecute individuals implicated regardless of her status. The area of impunity is over” Khayre said immediately after his approval today.

Plenty of questions remain unanswered or needs to be seen. Will the duo be able to deal with the impunity from persons with much influence on the government he runs? If yes what new measures are they likely to introduce to put an end to corruption and impunity?

“Corruption is widely involved in all sectors of the government and politicians have experience on how to go about corrupt dealings. It means the new administration need to deal careful and ensure accountability” Abdishakur advises.

Another delicate act of balance is how president Farmaajo and PM Khayre balance the needs of Somalia and the diplomatic relations with its neighboring countries, chiefly Kenya and Ethiopia, both of whom attended Farmaajo’s inauguration and promised a continued cooperation with new administration.

They find a Somalia that has a 20000 plus AU peace keeping troops with regional military powers Ethiopia and Kenya been part of it . Private security firms from the US and other countries are present to offer services to the many organizations operating in the country.

The country is at a juncture in its history where it is still in need of assistance after two decades of civil war especially now that it is dealing with an insurgency by militant group Alshabaab and an ongoing drought.

Beyond the neighboring countries, Turkey and UAE are increasingly dipping their feet and influence in Somalia. Both Turkey and UAE provide significant financial support to federal government, and both of have commitment with previous administrations to establish new military base, which could trigger a new wave of sectarian proxy that could potentially have impact on Somalia. As Rashid Abdi, analysts at International Crisis Group (ICG) tweeted today: “A growing militarization of Red Sea, Golf of Aden and Geopolitical competition make combustible mix for the region. Be wary Somaliland”. Also, Abdihakim Ainte, who was sub-tweeting Rashid Abdi replied: “Also be wary the border of Horn of Africa belt which bas became a new conduit for Arab proxy battlefield”.

Taking leaf from his mentor and inspirational figure, Mr. Kheire mentioned former PM Abdirizak Haji Hussine, who was regared among the most successful PM ever Somalia had.

“The creed of government will be competence and efficiency as was the motto of former PM Abdirizak Haji Hussein” Kheyre said on Wednesday in reference to the Somali PM who served between 64 and 67 just less than one year before the current Prime Minister was born.

Finally, the appointment of PM Kheire marks a new paradigm shift in the power sharing and the political structure of the country. His appointment was welcomed across the aisle, and people are closely watching his new cabinet and administration.

Fathi Mohamed, Chief Editor, Bilan Media