Today from Hiiraan Online:  _
All the President’s Men

By Heikal I. Kenneded
Thursday, January 15, 2015

The newly appointed Somali Prime Minister, Omar Sharmarke has miserably failed on passing the first major milestone as the nation's next prime ministerto put together a respectable government body that everyone can place his/her hopes and dreams, by rather exclusively reappointing - All the President’s Men – made up of mostly Dam-Jadid party members.  He named a 25 cabinet -member that almost entirely comprises the last incumbent ministers who nearly hold their former posts.In fact, the “new” Cabinet members are led by the likes of Farah Abdulqadir, AbdikarimGuled, and Abdullaahi Mohamed (AKA Sanbaloshe) who are well-known Dam-Jadid heavyweights, notorious for yieldingexcessive powers, not granted constitutionally.Thus, as PM Omar Sharmarkeprepares to lead his “new” ministers in front of the parliament for approval, he faces a staunch opposition, resulting from a growing number of disgruntled lawmakers who seem to be disillusioned withthe audacity of President Hassan Sheikh to hand-select the same last cabinet ministers to be sanctioned for a second term after they supported the overthrow of the last Prime Minister, Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed.

It is finally dawning on most Somalis that the remaining term (less than two years) of President Hassan Sheikh’s government might run out while he is still catering to most important ministerial posts to his secretive party members of Dam-Jadidwho seem to hold a searing grip on all of his major decisions. Nonetheless, what these Dam-Jadid party members fail to appreciate is that their “political party” was NOT elected when Hassan Sheikh ran for the office of the presidency, but rather were a clandestine party with a shady agenda. As such, they need to keep in mind that they have no right to manipulate the government of Hassan Sheikh for their political and power gain. On the contrary, they do need to recognize they are not part of a truly elected government, but a farce regime installed in order to placate their imagined status so that eventually “a government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish” from the Somalia.

After the lastprime ministerAbdiweliSheikh Ahmed reluctantly resigned from his post, the parliament was appeased that the President will select a “better” prime minister who would in turn assemble a more inclusive and competent Cabinet ministers. However, everyone knew the dishonest reasons that the last two prime ministers were ousted and only expected the worst to come from President Hassan Sheikh and his Dam-Jadid party for nominating Prime Minister Omar Sharmarke who was among the least favorite prime ministers that the country had witnessed for the last two decades since the Somalin nation-state collapsed. During the last time that he held this position - 2010, he was labeled on several egregious accusations, including the selling of the Somali maritime boundaries to neighboring country, Kenya. Indeed, it’s disheartening that the new PM has neither the decency nor the grit to select his new cabinet ministers but rather nonchalantly allowed to be force-fed his list from a pool of incompetent bureaucrats who failed time and again to deliver in promoting a viable reconciliation and reconstruction process for the country. As such, there is no sign of any major changes in the nominations that embody change so far. Once again, Prime Minister Omar Sharmarke has sadly failed to live-up to his father’s reputation as a shrewd politician who led the country in a very crucial period. Instead, the Prime Minister chose his position to be undermined by the Presidentand kowtow to his Dam-Jadidparty. Thus, he will fight to stamp his authority in the face of a powerful President who will manipulate every step he takes. This might eventually further pave the way for another germination of a new animosity within the current government.

So how can the new PM redeem himself in the eyes of so many skeptics and opposition groups by orienting the embattledgovernment towards a progressive road, instead of blindly following their old, failed paradigm, which is based on clan politics? Despite the daunting task facing the PM, he still can introduce needed changes if he successfully rallies the international community to help Somaliaalleviate the current political situation. PM Omar Sharmarke’sbiggest challenge, however, lies in reconciling with the powerful and cunning Dam-Jadidparty who lately seem to have hijacked the government of Hassan Sheikh. Since the current intransigent political circumstances, engagement and honest dialogue, not tit-for-tat confrontation should be the order of the day for a government that was originally established on the premise of reconciling all different parties. Once this happens, other difficulties facing PM Sharmarke’s government, including lack of international support and to gain the trust of the Somali people will resolve themselves.

Finally, the new dawn of hope to unite the country that all Somalis dreamed about few years ago has died with Hassan Sheikh’s government who ignores to face up to his responsibilities to grasp the challenges posed by the under circumstances, and like his most recent predecessors will go down in history as the lousy leader who didn’t have the courage to stand up when his calling came. Likewise, the new Prime Minister could have learned from his past experience and stand on his ground in order to form his own cabinet ministers but rather succumbed to be exploited by the Dam-Jadid party, and thus he will need few miracles to weather some of the early skepticism. His efforts to take charge, regain momentum, and earn public confidence are all important keys in order to change the current stalemate that the government of Hassan Sheikh is drowning in.

Though one would expect from President Hassanto stake his government’s last hope on the success of his third prime minister in order to tackle the country’s numerous intransigent problems. Nevertheless, the President missed such important opportunity to mount such an ambitious plan by returning the same cabinet ministers. By most accounts, President Hassan Sheikh is focused on amassing a horde of “Yes men” who will overlook all of his miscalculations, while admonishing rivals who would be a challenge to his government. He needs to consult with the public and most importantly the budding of Somali intellectuals and technocrats in the Diaspora, in a way that he perhaps never did before. Because honest consultations will not reduce his influence or least likely remove his responsibilities for making the final judgment about how to run the country. 

So far the Prime Minister has shown too much allegiance to the President and that itself might eventually be his downfall because he must demonstrate independence from the President to carry out his official directives. And here lies how Hassan Sheikh’s government can eventually succeed in accomplishing its mandate or miserably failing it, similar to that of its predecessor transitional government - the TFG. In conclusion, Hassan Sheikh’s administration is paying the price for failing to engage “free thinkers” both in the country and in the Diaspora in fear of losing its grip of “an imagined” power that will re-launch him onto another second term in 2016. His government like his predecessors is also paying the price for allowing Ethiopia and other unhelpful neighboring countries to meddle in their internal affairs as though Somalia was one of his provincial states under the Addis administration. But alsoPrime Minister Omar Sharmarke will pay the price for not leading an effective, transparent government that is free of nepotism and corruption. If matters are not immediately turned around, Somalia might never have another opportunity to salvage its existence and will sink further into chaos.

Heikal I. Kenneded

Washington D.C.

E-mail: [email protected]


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