Somalia’s 2016 election: A vote of Conscious

Somalia’s 2016 election: A vote of Conscious

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Mogadishu(SONNA)-Somalia is gearing up for this year’s election, signifying the end of President Hassan Mohamud’s current administration. The incumbent is offering himself for re-election against a plethora of candidates including a former President, former Prime Ministers, ex-Ministers.

The electoral process will begin by choosing the next members of the federal parliament and members of the newly installed parliament will then choose the president. The federal parliament will consist of the upper house and the lower house. The 275 electoral colleges will each consist of 51 delegates selected by 135 traditional elders. The 14,025 delegates will choose the 275 members of the lower house or house of the people of the federal parliament. Members of the state assembly will elect 54 members of the upper house. The members of the federal parliament will elect a speaker and eventually the president.

Any self-respecting Somalia, would agree that the country has made significant progress in the past four years. It is important to explicitly highlight the achievements that has been realised. In a fair democratic disposition, the need for accountability and scrutiny of what has been achieved by the incumbent’s administration in relation to other candidates’ blueprints and their historical engagement with the Somali people ought to be put on the table in order to come up with a fair judgment.

Peace and Security

Prior to President Mohamud’s election, roadblocks (Isbaaro) erected and manned by various
Militia groups, dotted the landscape of Mogadishu and its outskirts. This was detrimental in the
very movement of people who were mere cash cows for these groups who illegally distorted the
people and deprived them of their livelihoods. Those who have lived in areas where roadblocks
were in operation, would understand the huge impact that it had on them. It was President
Mohamud’s administration which has succeeded in eradicating 62 roadblocks in a matter of one
year.
For peace to be realised any right minded person would agree that, law enforcement agencies ought to be supported with both financial and equipment capabilities coupled with a strong and elaborate vision from the leadership. Since 2012 the number of security personnel tripled, this has resulted in the Somali military together with its ally AMISOM through an operation code named Gorgor, to free the Somali people in regions such as Kismaayo, Matabaan, Ceel buur, Beledweyn, Marka, Baydhabo, Jalalaqsi, Buule Burde from the yoke of Al-Shabaab. The Somali government has succeeded in facilitating training of its armed forces locally. In addition, it has expanded from training its military in countries within the region, to a much more equipped and militarily strong countries such as Turkey and UAE. Further, the arms embargo placed on Somalia at the beginning of the civil war has been eased by the Security Council.

This has resulted in the graduation of 3,879 officers from locally based military training facilities
and a further 5,432 from Turkey and UAE. For the first time since the fall of the military
government in 1991, the first military conference was held in Mogadishu bringing together top
Somali military brass and the stakeholders in the security industry to deliberate on the nation’s security situation. In two decades the Somali military did not have a functioning, well equipped hospital, the injured and the sick were left at the mercy of health centres with poorly trained staff. Thanks to President Mohamud’s administrationSomali officers can boast of a free medical facility with modern equipment. The achievements of the security forces have led to the incarceration of hundreds of felons. However, the government has also initiated programmes such as tailoring and carpentry to address re-offending issues.Although there had been brazen attacks on major hotels in the capital city by Al-Shabab. It is myopic to blame the government to have failed in its four years at the helm whenever these attacks happen. The need to look at the broader context and interpret these attacks on what they are, as “kicks of a dying horse” is vital. Al-Shabab has been reduced to cowardly attacks to stay relevant.

What about the Economy?

Accountability and transparency are vital in any government which has the mandate to deliver growth of the economy. For over two decades, donors as well as investors were
concerned with rampant corruption that had engulfed successive governments.
The current administration, with the help of World Bank took the herculean task of, first
establishing the Somali Financial Management Information System, (FMIS) which is part of the Public
Finance Management, an efficient, transparent financial capabilities and procedures that has
succeeded in curtailing corruption in various governmental agencies. Civil servants are now paid
their salaries on bio-metric system to curb ghost workers and a cost effective way to manage
human resource.
Partnerships between the government and the private sector has resulted in a thriving Somali economy. Property Tax which has not been collected since 1991 has begun and is ongoing in Mogadishu with the vision and dedication of a private company and with the support of the Government. Citizens have begun to understand the benefits of paying taxes with the construction of one of the biggest highways in Mogadishu in Wadada Wadnaha set to be completed by Dec 2016.
Mogadishu Port has been rebuilt and equipped with sophisticated cargo handling machinery
together with increased skilled labour. In 2012 taxes collected from the port amounted to USD 21 million and by 2016 this has jumped to 67 million, thereby enabling investor confidence and has realised the government’s vision of sustained economic growth.
For the past three years an Independent International Auditor audited the finances of government
agencies, projects and donor funds. In addition, the government has created an Independent
Somali Body whose mandate is to monitor and evaluate government finances. Both of them have acknowledged that the finances were used correctly. Both of these auditors’ have
given the administration a positive financial opinion.
Furthermore, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have recognised the
achievements of the current administration and reiterated that Somalia can at last be trusted.

Reconciliation

Reconciliation has been key to the stabilisation of the country and to the establishment of federalism. The President personally has spearheaded peace and reconciliation conferences that took place in towns and cities across the country namely in Dhusamareb, Garoowe, Baydhabo, Kismaayo, Jowhar and many more. The success of the conferences has led to the formation of regional federal states such as Jubaland, Galmudug,South West State and most recently Hirshabelle.. Additionally, these peace and reconciliation conferences have resulted in the creation of independent bodies that are vital to the stability of the nation such as the Independent Constitutional Review Committee.
Education

Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s government has placed much responsibility on itself to revive the
education system of the country. This self-placed responsibility derives from the president’s longstanding love foreducation because whilst the country was engulfed in civil war he was involved in reviving theeducation sector given his work at SIMAD Academy which later became SIMAD University. Thegovernment has rebuilt and renovated schools including Raage Ugaas, Ibnu Kowneyn, DugsigaBartamaha, Hassan Barsame, 15 May, 21 October, Banadir School as well as Polytechnics.Moreover, the government started an educational campaign dubbed as ‘Go to School’ which saw1 million children going to school around the country. For the next 5 years these 1 million students will be educated with no costs to their families. In addition, the government has trained and registered 1,400 teachers who are on the payroll of the Ministry of Education.

The government has also facilitated and hosted the first international conference which brought
together Somali and International experts to deliberate the education curriculum of Somalia. This
was the first of such conference held in Somalia since 1991 and has resulted in the creation of one
curriculum used by schools across the country. For the first time in 25 years the government
has held examinations across the country.

International Relations

President Mohamud’s administration has restored Diplomatic ties with members of the international community such as the United States of America and the United Kingdom. It has reopened embassies in the Permanent five members of the United Nations Security Council (United States of America, the United Kingdom, France, China and Russia).
The Prime Minister of the UK, David Cameron, and the Somali President have co-chaired the
London Conference on Somalia which was dubbed the ‘New Deal’. This has led to Somalia being
removed from the list of failed states. Foreign Dignitaries have also been to Somalia for the first
time in many years. Most recently Somalia has hosted the 28 IGAD Extra-Ordinary Summit for
Heads of State and Government in Mogadishu on 13 September 2016. A historical day for the
Somali people and a hallmark achievement for President Hassan Mohamud’s Administration.
Furthermore, the current maritime dispute with Kenya has showed Somalia’s fight for her
territorial integrity, mobilising its educated elite to spearhead the noble cause which has the
blessings and support of President Mohamud’s administration.

Where from here?

While it is naïve not to acknowledge the challenges that is faced by the country, and the fact that
the Somali people are weary of the predicament that has continued to tear its social fabric. It
would be foolhardy for Somali leaders to wishfully think that by changing the current
Administration, they would somehow miraculously make some kind of a utopian state. It’s significant
for Somali leaders to realize that Somalia is now respected and honoured by not only the
region but also the world. They have the opportunity to vote their conscious and break the vicious
cycle of changing administrations due to Somalis’ worldview on the concept of leadership,
which is “change for the sake of it”. Somalia stands today at this stage due to a series of decisions
made by the current administration under the stewardship of President Mohamud. Even though you might disagree with some of president Mohamud’s decision it is
important to realise that at this stage Somalia needs the same momentum and leadership
for it to continue with its long road to recovery and prevail in its endeavours.

In 2013 Time Magazine named President Mohamud on its list of 100 most influential people in the
world. It is befitting to acknowledge a quote from Rwandan President Paul Kagame, a man who has been credited in stabilising and developing his once war ravaged country to what is today dubbed the “Singapore of Africa”on April 18 2013 Time Magazine article, about President Mohamud he states that “Somalia’s Hassan Sheik Mohamud is discarding destructive clan based politics in favour of anti-corruption measures and national reconciliation as well as embracing vital security-sector and economic reforms.”

Abdul Kulmiye
Afro-Pacific
kulmiye.pacific@gmail.com