Written by 3:26 pm Opinions/Analysis


By Osman Hassan

They say the cat has nine lives, considering its feat to often survive the dangers it encounters in its daily struggle. Somalia shares that reputation. How often it falls, falters but always rebounds and back on its feet to the dismay of its enemies. For better or worse, that has become its trademark but also the name invoked internationally to represent the archetypal failed State.

PM Roble ( left), Fahad (center) and Farmaajo

 As Somalia goes through another crisis –a gratuitous one brought upon it by its novice Prime Minister – the question arises as to whether this will be the end or whether we will get over it as usual and march on. It is all about the contest between our national weaknesses and our strengths which would decide the final outcome. This article runs through these recurring institutional political crisis we faced, and adjudicates on the current one as a self-appointed judge!

The State was brought down in 1991 by clan-based warlords in cahoots with foreign powers. But despite all the human and material losses, the recovery of the State, retaining all the attributes due to it, and recognized as such by the international community, is in itself a consolation. Since then, there has been no let-up of these periodic onslaughts on the soul of the State at the hands of political pirates vying for the presidency, not so much to serve the nation but to prey on it.  

Somalis are copycats almost in every field. When boundless bounties have been dishonestly amassed by those entrusted with the highest offices of the land, others take notice and join the scramble for that bonanza. Even when they had more than their fill, they want to make a comeback and grab more. In the process, these vile aspirations become insatiable and addictive. In pursuit of the gravy train, fortune hunters would stop at nothing to get their way even if they have to bring down the very State they want to milk.

The State survived their last foray in April when they mounted a clan-based insurrection to challenge president Farmaajo, ostensibly over disputes over the election process but in reality to push for his political demise and pave the way for his post. Faced with formidable opposition backed by Somalia’s international partners (IPs),  President Farmaajo came out of it humbled and bruised. Under the circumstances, and in the interest of the nation, he decided to hand all matters relating to the selection of members of Parliament (MPs), and associated security matters, to his presumed trusted Prime Minister, Mohamed Hussein Roble.

History repeats itself and those political upheavals are once again upon us, this time ushered by the Prime Minister, Mohamed Hussein Roble. On the face of it, it is over the failure of Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) to provide a report on the disappearance of Ikran Tahlil Farah, a female officer of the Agency. But that is clearly a red herring. The intended target is the Agency’s boss, Fahad Yasin- Farmaajo’s confidante and right-hand man, and through him to weaken the President.

Out of the blue, the Prime Minister, grandstanding and projecting himself as the power of the land, independent and without consultation with the President, the Council of Ministers, the relevant ministries concerned with Ms Ikran’s case, went over their heads and gave Fahad Yasin on State TV a public an unseemly and hasty order to provide him a final report on the case within 48 hours.

People could form different judgements on the PM’s action: one is that he was playing to the gallery to project himself as the real unchallenged power in the land, and at the same time portray Farmaajo as a spent force – a yesteryear man. It is a kind of coup d’état. On the other hand, one could excuse him and say this is the action of an impetuous young man, new to the job and gone astray. The true answer could be both. Clearly, the PM has persuaded himself to strike while the iron is hot and (cynically) gain maximum publicity over this sad case.

As it is, Fahad Yasin agreed to present the report but reminded the PM that it was of equal concern to all the relevant bodies of the State dealing with security and the administration of criminal justice, and for that reason proper to present it to a joint meeting of all these entities. Fahad’s response seems not have gone down well with the PM’s hubris. The result is that he immediately suspended him from his post before the deadline expired and appointed his successor without consultation with the President and the council of Ministers. Neither of these actions is justified by the constitution nor established precedence.

President Farmaajo, for his part, declared the PM’s action as null and void- a confrontation that, unless soon resolved, could plunge the country to renewed crisis if not civil war. And all these foreboding prospects are thanks to an inept novice Prime Minister playing with fire, the last thing the country needs at this crucial time when all eyes are on the on-going selections of MPs and the ensuing election of a president. It is mindboggling that none of this seems to have weighed with the young man.

The PM’s action deserves to be put under the microscope. When it comes to the appointment and sacking of the Head of NISA, one has to resort to the constitution and also to precedence and established practice. In almost all countries having similar presidential governance as Somalia, it is the head of the State that nominates, replaces or sacks their security chiefs. The case of the head of the CIA is a good example which is the prerogative of the president. And in the case of Somalia, it was president Farmaajo and not Roble who appointed Fahad in the first place. In blatantly riding roughshod over this established procedure, the PM is acting like a warlord usurping powers that are not his.

On the short 48 hours’ deadline set for the handing of the report, the PM is guilty of ignorance or unseemly opportunism or both. Even in the advanced countries, solving murders and complex cases involving disappearances, in particular those relating to security or spy officials, do take long time. How often do we hear Britain’s Scotland Yard admitting to having failed to solve countless cases they have been following for long time despite the immense resources and expertise at their disposal? What makes the PM that the answer to Ikran’s disappearance can be pulled out of a hat within 48 hours? If NISA is preoccupied with the case, they should be allowed to do their job and not punished for not meeting the PM’s arbitrary and unrealistic demand.

Former Prime Ministers have come and gone, making little or no mark on Somalia. Former Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud and Sheikh Sharif treated their PMs as part of their baggage with little teeth and in the end got rid of them when the PMs could no longer tolerate to be yes-men. Farmaajo on the other hand acted majestically and left his PMs alone to get on with their job. Unfortunately for him, both Hassan Ali Khayre, the former PM, and Roble, the current one, used this freedom of action to turn the dagger at their “creator”. At least Khayre was less harmful to the nation and it is not a crime to covet his boss’s post but not overthrow him.

Roble on the other hand will always invoke that Somali saying: “Shimbiri mar bay dab qaaday markiina waxay gubtay gurigeedii”. For his image, he would have been better off and so Somalia if he remained win his NGO.

Mogadishu was the mother of Somali independence but it has now become the home of its downfall, always from the same source – to be blunt. One has to ask how long a fragile State, largely a victim of Mogadishu, can survive the endless threats and recurring battering inflicted on it by pseudo elites or former leaders?.

Despite their luck, neither a cat nor Somalia is immortal. The former ultimately succumbs to forces beyond its control, while the demise of Somalia will be the result of its own making.

Osman Hassan
Emai:l [email protected]

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