18 September, 2012

Who will be Somalia’s Next Prime Minister?

Who will be Somalia’s Next Prime
By Hassan M. Abukar 

President Mohamud
Presdient Hassan Sh. Mohamud

The new Somali president, Hassan Sh. Mohamoud, did not have much time to rest after his victory; the next day, a group of masked men attempted to kill him in a failed suicide mission. Then, unconfirmed reports claimed that his private email was hacked. The biggest task ahead of the president now is to appoint a prime minister, a job which has attracted all kinds of seekers and dreamers.
Former Somali president, Siad Barre, used to say, “It is not who you are [clan wise] but what you know.” In an ideal situation in which knowledge and competence matter, someone like Dr. Ahmed I. Samatar, a former journalist (BBC) and a professor of political science for 30 years in the US, would be a shoo-in for either the office of the presidency or the premiership.
Dr. Ahmed I. Samatar
Dr. Samatar
Samatar and Mohamoud became close friends during the presidential campaign because they had similar priorities in saving the country. According to sources close to both men, there was even a gentleman’s agreement between the two. However, no one knows for sure if Mohamoud had similar agreements with other candidates. Moreover, Samatar is not Darod, and, in a political environment where clans matter, his chances are slim. Those advising the new president have the understanding that the next prime minister should be Darod. The challenge is to determine which sub-clan.  So far, the Majertein and the Marehan are neck and neck in the competition for the position. The Marehan might have a better chance because they have history on their side. Since the Abdiqassim regime, there have been five Darod prime ministers (three Majertein, a Dhulbahante, and a Marehan). The Majertein, obviously, have taken more than their share in filling that position, thus, It will not be a surprise if history is repeated. Dr. Ali Khalif Galeyr, a Dhulbahante, is also in contention for the position but his success is not likely.
Dr. Mohamed Sh. Ali “Doodishe,” is a name on the minds of many, according to sources very close to the president. A political scientist by training, Doodishe graduated from and taught in Sudan. He is Marehan and boasts a special characteristic: He is a member of the New Blood, an Islamic group that counts on the new president. While Doodishe fulfills the clan requirement, he is not likely to cause political headaches for the president for several reasons. First, he is an Islamist from the New Blood, a group the president ideologically identifies with, and the two might have the same outlook and plan for the government. Second, according to the new constitution, the president has the power to appoint the prime minister but cannot dismiss him or her. Every Transitional Federal Government (TFG) was hampered by the endemic power struggle between its president and prime minister. This problem may no longer be as acute as it was previously because the powers of each position are clearly now delineated. “Wouldn’t it be easier for you, Mr. President,” Mohamoud has been told by his advisors, “to have a prime minister from our group that we can handle instead of an outsider?”  According to the people very privy to the president’s thinking, he hasn’t made up his mind, but he finds the idea of Dr. Doodishe as prime minister interesting.
Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo
Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo
Doodishe, while a friend and a colleague of the new president, brings baggage of his own. It will seem unwise for an Islamist president to appoint another Islamist as prime minister. This could be problematic, because too much concentration of power in the hands of the Islamists in the executive branch torpedoes efforts of reconciliation, discourages coalition-building, and promotes the abuse of power.
If Doodishe is not selected, the other Marehan contenders are Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, Abdiwahab Elmi Omar “Goonjeex,” and Saacid Farah Garaad (Shirdon). The latter once came close to being appointed as prime minister in the government of Shaikh Sharif only for Farmajo to get the nod in the eleventh hour. Farmajo was a prime minister for six months and gathered mixed responses from people. He has many supporters who believe that he is clean, competent, and a nationalist. The latter is an attribute that has lost traction recently in Somali politics. But then, there are others who view Farmajo as someone who lacks political acumen, and might be a liability if the new president wants to court Puntland. That illustrates an example of what I call “the Farole factor.”
Mr. Abdirahman Sh. Mohamed "Farole", President of Puntland
Mr. Abdirahman Sh. Mohamed “Farole” is president of Puntland. Under the new federal system adopted by Somalia, Puntland is an entity that cannot be ignored.  Farole has recently intimated that Puntland might entertain the idea of deciding its future (a euphemism for secession) if a certain political leader were elected as president. That ‘certain’-leader was the former president Shaikh Sharif who lost to the new president. Farole, however, was quick to welcome the selection of President Mohamoud. The new president, of course, would need to work with Farole and Puntland, but one might ask; at what price? Will Farole have a say in the selection of the new Darod prime minister? The president has the right to appoint whomever he wants, but clan politics is a matter that involves deliberate consideration. If the Farole factor is as important as some perceive, then the new president would want to maintain working relations with Puntland. Consequently, some potential candidates for the premiership; Farmajo, Galeyr and Abdiweli, might be out. Each of these politicians has had falling out with Puntland’s strong man; Farmajo for marginalizing Puntland when he was prime minister; Galeyr for being a leader of Khatumo State, and Abdiweli for not heeding to Farole during the adoption of the new constitution, the naming of both the Elders Group and members of the parliament from Puntland. It was apparent that Abdiweli, himself a Puntlander, did not want to pander to Farole.
Dr. Abdiweli M. Ali "Gaas"
Dr. Abdiweli M. Ali "Gaas"
Abdiweli did well during his short stint as prime minister and might be re-appointed. The outgoing government headed by Shaikh Sharif and Abdiweli as its Prime Minister—in conjunction with AMISOM forces and the UN Envoy to Somalia, Ambassador Mahiga-- deserve much credit for 1) the expulsion of al-Shabab from many parts of the south, including Mogadishu, 2) the writing and adoption of the new constitution, and 3) the ending of the transitional period of the government. Moreover, he brought Puntland on board. Abdiweli’s detractors, however, emphasize the allegations of graft against him, President Shaikh Sharif and former speaker of the parliament, Sharif Hassan, by the United Nations’ Monitoring Group for Eritrea and Somalia.  Abdiweli’s critics do not consider him an agent of change, and some see his close relationship with Kenya, a neighboring country which has strong territorial, economic and political interests in Somalia, disturbing.
Eng. Mohamoud J. Hamud
Other Darod contenders such as Hussein Khalif (Majertein), Dr. Abdirahman Hashi (Dhulbahante), Saeed Abdullahi Dani (Majertein), and Abdirizak Osman Juriile (Dishiishe), interestingly seem to have the alleged support of Farole. Engineer Mohamoud Jama Hamud (Warsangeli) is a northerner who is also a contender, and he believes that he is uniquely qualified to work on the unification of the Somali communities.
Finally, the new president came from nowhere to trounce a sitting president. He might surprise many by appointing a newcomer, just as he is.
Hassan M. Abukar
E-Mail: Abukar60@yahoo.com

Coutesy: Wardheernews.com


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