From the outset, I apologize in advance if the title of my article causes discomfort and anger especially for the valuable and capable presidential candidates who are not from Hawiye clan. Let me make clear that I don’t subscribe to the view that non-Hawiye candidates cannot be presidents of Somalia with capital in Mogadishu or elsewhere. In Somali politics, nothing prohibits member of one clan to compete for president or speakership. Prime Minister’s position is an appointment. People follow tradition. Children follow their Parents. Time changes the tradition.
My food for thought idea about the desirability of a democratic, competent Hawiye Leader as the next president of Somalia is not based on clan predilection but it is based on the interest and hope of overcoming collectively the morass and bigotry feelings created by the divide and conquer politics and brutal abuses of state power experienced in the last five years under President Farmajo who turned Somalia back to warring and power struggle years 1991-2000. He pitted Somali clans and states as enemies and stoked political tensions narrowly averted to turn into communal violence. That eroded loyalty and respect to the Somali State and stalled the cooperation between high levels of the federal government.
Mohamed A. Farmajo, legitimately elected President at the beginning of 2017 for four-year term but disgracefully in office more than one year after the expiration of his constitutional term, showed signs of callous person because he constantly remained indifferent to the repeated concerns that rigged elections undermine the unity, security, stability and progress of Somalia. He betrayed his oath of office and the commandments of his religion. He deliberately ignored the fundamental pillars for advancing the construction of the Somali state, which is a work in progress. Those pillars are national reconciliation, clan power sharing, the federal system, the supremacy of the rule of law, safety and security of citizens, political consensus, and non-allegiance to foreign power. He subjected the Somali people to embrace the worst political election in the history all for the sake of staying in power.
I unequivocally state that the Somali people owe gratitude to Said Abdullahi Deni, President of Puntland, Ahmed Mohamed Islan “Ahmed Madobe,” President of Jubbaland State, Senator Abdi Hashi Abdullahi, former Speaker of the Upper House of the Federal Parliament, Professor MP Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, former President and Presidential Candidate, MP Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsame, former Minister and Presidential Candidate, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, former President and Presidential Candidate, MP Dr. Elmi Mohamed Nur, Professor Hassan Sheikh Ali, General MP Sadiq Omar Hassan (Sadiq John), the Somali Salvation Army, few independent Media organizations, and the people of Benadir region for defying with great sacrifice and distress the brutal abuses and transgressions of Farmajo and his conspirator Fahad Yassin Ahmed (formerly known Fahad Yassin Haji Dahir) for more than five years without delegitimizing the federal government. Had it not been the unwavering painful resistance of the above-mentioned leaders and many others, the situation of Somalia would have been worse than the current dreadful situation. Former Prime Minister and presidential candidate Hassan Ali Kheire shared responsibilities with Farmajo and Fahad and owes the Somali people to tell the truth about the wrongdoings that happened during his time in office.
The abusive, divisive, and destructive politics and actions of Farmajo and Fahad Yassin, abetted by the state of Qatar, James Swan, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, Francisco Madeira, the Special Representative of Chairperson of the African Union Commission, and Donald Yamamoto, former Ambassador of the United States of America for Somalia tore Somalis apart. It’s unbelievable the damage the duo did to the people and the country. They are accused of all kinds of crimes such as the killings and disappearance of Somali citizens, illegal extradition of innocent citizens to foreign country, violent attacks against former presidents, speaker, prime minister, and ministers and threats to the lives of Jubbaland and Puntland presidents, arrest, intimidation, and harassment of journalists and political oppositions, draconian sanctions against Somaliland, smears campaigns against Puntland, and substantial secret money from Qatar.
To remove violently president Ahmed Madobe of Jubbaland from office, Farmajo mobilized and deployed clan paramilitary forces under his control in Gedo region, where his clan dominate. Not only did he refuse the request of the UN Security Council to withdraw the clan paramilitary forces from Gedo region, but he is supplying stockpiles of armaments, military equipment, and financial resources for nefarious political schemes. To add insult to injury, Farmajo and Fahad are striving to capture again the power at any cost with the help of foreign powers. Their involvement in Somali politics is highly dangerous and a source of instability.
With the exception of few seats, the blatantly rigged elections of the federal parliament, which continues a year, have completely dimmed the public hope for a viable Somali state. The election process has been used for political disenfranchisement, retaliation, and nepotism to exclude legitimate candidates. The rancor among Somali political elite is intense in everywhere. As a result, Mogadishu already in despair becomes battle ground immediately after the election is over because many abused politicians and communities will flock into it to take revenge on the illegitimate parliamentarians and their benefactors.
The sham election process of the seat of Fahad Yassin is the classical example for the horrible elections. The persistent appeals for credible, transparent election, and for the respect of the rights of the opposition and journalists remained worthless. The final hope of the Somali people rests with the international partners of Somalia to issue the list of those responsible of the political crimes that undermined Somalia’s aspirations for democratic system of government.
Contrary to the federal president described in the provisional constitution, Farmajo and Fahad made the federal President a supreme leader like Kim Jong-Un of North Korea. Farmajo became dictator-president with absolute personal power not provided in the constitution and acted as legislator, executive, judge and prosecutor, Governor of Benadir Region and Mayor of Mogadishu, General Manager of Mogadishu Port and Airport, Commander of the Police, Military, and National Intelligence Services (NISA), Governor of the Central Bank, Commander of the paramilitary forces, controller of the foreign relations, and controller of Galmudug, Hirshabelle, and Southwest States. Galmudug, Hirshabelle, and Benadir region are areas where Hawiye clan is predominant.
Above and beyond the failure of not implementing all the priorities planned for the four-year term, including holding free and fair one-person-one-vote elections on time, the most dangerous consequence of Farmajo and Fahad’s power grab is the use of the dirty politics of the ousted dictatorship which pitted one clan against another clan to hold on power. Clan rivalries and invectives increased exponentially undermining trust and collaboration across communities. This unforgivable return to the dark days of the ousted military regime of Siad Barre prompted calls for armed rebellion and dissolution of the federal government.
The tragic leadership of Farmajo afflicted all Somalis, but Hawiye Community bore the brunt of his brutal abuse of power because the people were his direct subjects. Additionally, Hawiye clan continue to bear the brunt of the massacre, destruction, and extortion of the terrorist groups Al Shabab and Da’ish without respite for 15 years. In 2018, other clans told Hawiye clan to defend itself and rise up against Farmajo to end his brutal rule by force before it’s not too late. Grudgingly, Hawiye members favored elections for change.
The lacking of the status and opportunity enjoyed by Somaliland, Puntland, and Jubbaland, Hawiye clan felt exclusion, injustice, and inequality for lacking the status and opportunities enjoyed by Somaliland, Jubbaland, and Puntland. Those sentiments inspired Hawiye mobilization for self-government. The international community, alarmed by the gravity of the political turmoil and state collapse, pressured Hawiye leaders to calm the situation with the promise of reining Farmajo in. Unfortunately, the international community failed to act effectively, faithfully, and consistently which led to the predicament in which Somalia finds itself today.
In counterattack, Farmajo and his cronies projected Hawiye protests and disenchantments against the abuse of power and the ineptitude of the federal government as Hawiye clan chauvinism, anti-nationalism, and obstacle to the return to the glorious era of the revolutionary regime. For example, the rejection of the unlawful two-year term extension of Farmajo in 2021 by the Somali Salvation Army acting in accordance with article 127 of the Provisional Constitution, the sycophants of Farmajo and Fahad interpreted as Hawiye clan against Darod President or Hawiye clan threatening the federal government for being the majority in the capital of Somalia, Mogadishu. That propaganda fueled the slogan of transferring the Capital from Mogadishu to other cities. The distortions irritated Hawiye clan.
The candidacy of the large number of Hawiye presidential candidates is also a manifestation of the shared clan dissatisfaction with the dismal performance of Farmajo’s government. However, the political reality, the past experience, and the public opinion could convince Hawiye presidential candidates to rally around one of them.
Therefore, Farmajo’s divide and conquer politics makes democratic, competent, mature Hawiye leader as next president of Somalia desirable with the awesome responsibilities of healing and reconciling the Somali clans and states pitted as enemies, strengthening the foundation for a federal government to be worthy of its attributes emblazoned under article 1 of the provisional constitution- federal, sovereign, democratic, inclusive representation, multiparty system and social justice.
All presidents of the federal and state governments, members of the federal parliament, members of the Council of Ministers, and members of the civil society are mandated to complete the constitution and institutions at federal and state levels to pave the way for free and fair one-person-one-vote elections before the end of the four year-term. The political negotiations for transitioning from clan power sharing to citizens’ participation in open political system are very sensitive and difficult, and needs statesmanship to allay the current tensions and fears and to avert turmoil and breakdowns in the process of solving quickly and satisfactorily the outstanding political issues hindering the completion of the constitution. Somalia is on the brink of a cliff and needs national statesman.
Although the next federal government will face troubled local and international environment, democratic, competent, mature Hawiye Leader should be able to harmonize communities’ diverse interests; commit to adhere to the provisional and final constitution; maintain transparency and accountability; improve the security and economic situation; and address the plight of the internally displaced people, refugees, and unemployed youth. Somaliland question must receive highest priority. Somalia’s clan power sharing and politics should be guided by article 11 of the constitution on equality.
Dr. Mohamud Uluso