Farmaajo’s irreversible failures, five years later
Somalia: Farmaajo’s irreversible failures, five years later
NAIROBI, Kenya – Five years ago today, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed is better known as “Farmaajo” was elected as the ninth president of the federal government of Somalia, a country straining to contain a host of challenges, key among them Al-Shabaab dominance.
At the inauguration in Mogadishu, Farmaajo delivered one of the memorable speeches, even attracting Britain, which went on to release $125 million to the Horn of Africa nation towards fixation of “urgent and pressing” issues.
To further reinstate hope to hopeless Somalis, Farmaajo admitted that the problems the country is facing could not be solved within the next four years [when his first term was to expire] but he identified some which he promised to fix within that period.
“The problems Somalia is going through have been building up for more than 20 years and to solve all of those problems may take more than another 20 years,” he said. “I would like to solve all those problems within the next four years I am in the office but I can’t.”
“Please, help me to address the most essential and major issues, including security, drought, the rule of law, the implementation of justice and reconciliation, which I think my government can address within the next four years,” he added.
In fact, in his own words, Farmaajo insisted he wasn’t interested in a second term, adding that “I will be a facilitator and initiator of peace”. Today, Farmaajo is busy seeking his second term and even having served for an extra “illegal” year in office.
The country was supposed to hold elections last year but lack of consensus due to poor leadership necessitated the current debacle, which has triggered suspicions from main actors and even threatened to plunge the country into unprecedented civil war.
The electoral impasse in Somalia
The greatest impedance to Somalia’s anticipated democratic and social-economic growth. Today, the country is over 13 months late in holding elections based on various agreements reached by stakeholders.
When Farmaajo assumed office, he anchored his speech on the need to migrate from the infamous clan-based model to universal suffrage, an idea that technically collapsed in 2020 despite massive investments by the international community and local actors.
The unstructured registration coordination from the National Independent Elections Commission [NIEC] which fatally failed to register people for elections to delay tactics resulting to move to push for an extension of his term are just but some of the indicators of his laziness.
The outgoing president had expressed a desire to retire after the first term. With universal suffrage now being foreign, Farmaajo, who was accused of “buying time” by opponents for a possible term extension, agreed albeit reluctantly to implement the 4.5 old model.
Interestingly, despite a binding agreement, the president failed to put systems in place, resulting in a constitutional crisis in Somalia. It’s this constitutional crisis that triggered him to push for a term extension, which was flatly rejected by the international community.
As late as now, Somalia is yet to conclude Lower House and presidential elections with the new agreement setting February 25 as the deadline. Throughout this push and pull, Farmaajo has been accused of frustrating Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble, with who he has fallen out.
One of the major differences between the two include elections manipulation at the expense of the opposition. In December 2021, Farmaajo was accused by PM Roble of an “attempted coup” leading to the setting of a ministerial committee to investigate the incident where a number of soldiers were linked to.
The opposition has persistently accused Farmaajo of stage-managing elections by installing his preferred candidates for the sake of “easy” victory in presidential elections. Although he denies it, a number of his allies including acting NISA boss Yasin Abdullahi Farey have been elected to parliament.
Security lapses and Al-Shabaab menace
Throughout his tenure in office, Farmaajo has failed to effectively contain insecurity in Somalia, leading to the deaths of thousands of people. The Al-Shabaab militants have been at the center stage of the attacks.
When Farmaajo took over, he promised to strengthen the Somali National Army [SNA] for effective war against Al-Shabaab. This was to be done through multinational cooperation besides strengthening internal institutions.
“My government will work on building a strong national army which will have regular payment, equipment, and all the necessary mechanism to operate for the national security interest,” he said.
Instead, the president has directed his energy towards creating internal divisions within the army as manifested in both April 2021 army mutiny and the December 2021 failed coup against Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble.
A number of security forces especially Turkish-trained Gorgor troops and Haramacad police have been using to instill imaginary recent against his political opponents, members of the media, and activists who seem to be against his presidency.
This, the US warned, paved the way for the resurgence of Al-Shabaab terrorists, who have continued to target innocent civilians, security forces, and senior government officials. The Al-Shabaab controls large swathes of rural central and southern Somalia, and are presumed to be collecting more taxes than the fragile government.
With security forces engaging in partisan politics, the Al-Shabaab militants have even raided strategic markets in Somalia where they are imposing heavy taxes on business people for their sustainability. Thousands of businesses have collapsed due to this.
To date, AMISOM is yet to leave Somalia despite Farmaajo’s promise to have them clear within his two years of presidency. Today, AMISOM is negotiating with the federal government officials for a 33-month joint mission with the UN, a proposal that seems to have been agreed upon.
Corruption and governance failure
During his inauguration, President Farmaajo promised a special crackdown on corruption, after a presidential election in which candidates allegedly paid out millions of dollars to parliament members in an effort to win their votes.
“I will return the lost confidence between the government and the people, and I promise for the Somalis and the world that my government will change the perception that Somalia is a corrupt nation,” the new president said.
Although he has managed to negotiate for debt relief, the corruption endemic continues to ravage the Horn of Africa nation. In 2020, a number of government officials were convicted of swindling Covid-19 relief money but major graft cases have gone unpunished.
The president chose to use government and unaccounted Qatar funds to sow division, fight legitimate political oppositions, and advance his own political survival before the country. In an interview with the outspoken supporter of Farmaajo Sheikh Hersi who lives in Canada, finance minister Bayle revealed his government’s account has zero dollars in it.
Somalia depends on the generous donations of the international community who refrained from funding the federal government because of the election impasse and Presidents ed hesitancy to hold credible elections in the country.
Farmaajo directly waged internal wars within states such as Jubaland and Puntland and succeeded in manipulating elections in Southwest, Hirshabelle, and Galmadug, where he managed to install Villa Somalia-allied politicians for his own survival.
In Gedo within Jubaland, he attempted to overthrow legitimate administrations thus precipitating a major war with regional leader Ahmed Islam Mohamed Madobe. At Southwest, about 11 people died in Baidoa where he blocked ex-Alshabaad deputy Mukhtar Robow from running against his favorite candidate Abdiaziz Lafta-Gareen, the current leader. Robow is still in prison.
So bad was the Jubaland situation that Farmaajo’s administration waged war with neighboring Kenya, substantially deteriorating the relationship between the two countries. He accused Kenya of working with Madobe and even went on to discourage out-of-court settlement of maritime dispute whose outcome at ICJ has been rejected by Nairobi.
Not just Kenya, Farmaajo has also had issues with sisterly nations such as United Arab Emirates [UAE] and even entered into unholy alliances with Qatar and Ethiopia. Besides refusing to return $9.6 million to UAE which was illegally seized, Somali troops are also linked to genocide in the Tigray region, Ethiopia.
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