Somalia: A memo to Somalia’s president

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By: Liban Ahmad

(Somalilandsun) – Your election as the president of Fedeal Republic of Somalia has delivered the strong message that Somalis want a change, not the status quo. The challenges your presidency will face are similar to those faced by your predecessors. Two key political themes will surely be corner-stones for the government the prime minister you will appoint will form: good governance and reconciliation.

Somalis everywhere will be heartened by a message about good governance- that the government’s coercive power will not be used to violate human rights of citizens or to embezzle public funds. A part of this message emphasising the solid foundations on which the new government will build- successful autonomous administrations- will drive home the two messages that all post-1991 Somalia’s history is not about war and man-made famine, and that government power will flow from periphery not from the centre to inspire trust in the representativeness of public institutions.

Reconciliation was a recurrent theme in every government formed since 2000 when the first transitional administration emerged following Djibouti-sponsored Reconciliation conference in Arta district. No Somali government has looked at successful reconciliation efforts in Somalia for inspiration. By making it clear that the terms of reconciliation will not be determined by you or a future government, your presidency will be able to appreciate past reconciliation efforts spearheaded by Somalis in different parts of Somalia as model for new reconciliation efforts. Durable reconciliation outcomes were initiated by political leaders who used clan militias as a means to achieve political ends. Any new reconciliation effort ought not to be separated from human rights violations. People who occupy properties or farms unlawfully do not need to be reconciled with lawful proprietors. If such a distinction is not made your reconciliation efforts will follow an alliteratively familiar pattern- ‘Xaq maannu rabno, xal baannu rabnaa’ ( No to redressing wrongs, we are seeking solution). In short, good governacne ( maamul-wanaag) and reconciliation ( dib-u-heshiisiin ) ought not become empty slogans under your watch.

Liban Ahmad

libahm@gmail.com

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