August election marred by corruption fears
Ismail D. Osman
As the term of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government comes to an end this August, 2012, there is hope that the new political dispensation will bring positive outcomes. It will be a new milestone if the transition to embrace the creation of a quality parliament that will elect a respectable speaker and president is achieved. This will send a strong signal that we are finally heading in the right direction and will mark a new chapter for the return of Somalia as a respected partner in the international community. However, the task ahead will demand a new direction with strong leadership and vision.
The causes of political instability in Somalia are many but the lack of leadership is one of the main reasons for the chaos and violence. Somalia needs a leadership with vision that can bring civility, transparency, accountability and inclusiveness in the Somali political process. Given that there are many contenders for the top job in Somalia, the question many Somalis are asking is “Who is the right person to lead Somalia?”
The choices before Somalis, in this regard, are two and their differences are easy to recognize:
First, we can hopelessly continue on the perilous political road to nowhere that the nation has been on since the fall of the central government in 1991, this is a dead-end road.
Secondly, now there is a huge opportunity to change the gear by bringing young leaders of great integrity and quality into the Somali political process. These leaders must not be controversial or divisive and must be respected by the public.
These two choices are clear. We can’t afford to continue on lawlessness at this juncture. The time has come to restore the dignity of the Somali people and a space must be created for effective leadership that can unite the country. However, the current environment in Mogadishu would not allow good leaders to emerge from the ongoing political process which is in the hands of the three top TFG leaders. It is certainly clear the way the process is set up at this moment will not bring any political change. The reason is evident; the elders are in the hands of the TFG leaders, no new MPs will be approved from their respective clans without their blessing which will lead to a bogus election. Part of the problem lies in an excessively hierarchical political tradition that treats a supine loyalty as the ultimate virtue. Unsurprisingly, in this environment, there is a latent hostility to newcomers.
The Somali people should take this process very seriously as there is a possibility to bring an end to the insecurity and to build a peaceful society.
In order to bring real changes, two things must happen:
The process must be kept away from the meddling of the TFG leaders and managed by an independent technical team and international observers;
Access should be given to qualified individuals who have been blocked from entering the process;
The international community must not endorse an obviously eschewed, corrupt process. Spending tax payer money on this sham process will lead to further cynicism towards international development and will strengthen radicalism. In addition, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali troops are dying to stabilize Somalia. Therefore, their endeavor should not be allowed to fail. If the process to end the transition fails to deliver new changes, it will be a political disaster for the UN Political Office for Somalia, USA, EU, Arab League, AMISOM and Intergovernmental Authority on Government. It will be seen as a victory for Al-Shabab, pirates and the spoilers of peace namely the PM, President and the deposed speaker. It is an honor for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling and will pay hefty consequences.
Given Somalia’s political make-up, the absence of young politicians on the front benches is simply unacceptable. The seeds of cynicism are thus slowly sown. Unlike the private sector which has evolved considerably, the political culture shows little sign of embracing necessary changes. This will require strong will and courage from the Somali people to realize the incredible power that lies in the voices of the new parliament when selected into the long awaited seats. The Somali people have the right to select whom they want and not whom they fear or who is most corrupt, we must not be for SALE as usual, it’s time to support the national interest and not the clan interest.
The new dawn that is about to rise should come with hope to inspire the millions of Somalis that are scattered around the globe. We should invite the sons and daughters of Somalia back to the motherland with a new political horizon that is dynamic, inspirational, hopeful and most of all free and fair for all to choose.
Politically, Somalia has many hopefuls but there is lack of honest and legitimate leadership. Also, lack of accountability and the misplacement of funds are proving to be reasons enough to demand a transparent and fair government that acts in the interest of the Somali people.
Not only should Somalis take advantage of the current momentum, we as a nation should also be aware of what we are entitled to as a people under a new government.
For years the fundamental rights of the Somali people have been ignored due to wars, strife and numerous incompetent, corrupt leaders.
We now need new, competent and talented young leaders in key positions in the next government.
Ismail D. Osman is a political analyst and chairman of the Somali National Council based in the United States firstname.lastname@example.org