Thursday, March 23, 2017

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Politics or politics – Somaliland’s time to come of age!

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The three political leaders in contention for the  Somaliland presidency, L-R  Muse Behi, Feisal Ali and Abdirahman Irro are old guards tainted by association with former Somalia dictator Siysd BarreThe three political leaders in contention for the Somaliland presidency, L-R Muse Behi, Feisal Ali and Abdirahman Irro are old guards tainted by association with former Somalia dictator Siysd Barre

Somalilandsun-One benefit of being behind the curve in any field is that it should, in theory, be much easier to skip a generation or two and catch up or be ahead of the game. Yet, ‘Politics’ (with a big P) in Somaliland seems to have been frozen in time with an unwavering reluctance to meet modern 21st century standards. 

     

Firstly, as much as we have to praise our Politicians for turning Somaliland into the oasis of peace it is today, we have them to blame for stagnating our political coming of age. Somaliland has an old, under educated and relatively ineffective political class with many treating public office as a pension scheme and a 5* retirement home. Consequently, this has resulted in a civil service of similar distinct shortcomings. That is why it is time for the youth of the country to organise and enter politics both directly as politicians and civil servants and indirectly as commentators and civil society pressure groups. This injection of fresh educated blood will spark our politics back to life.        

Secondly, Politics in Somaliland is missing a key ingredientEvidence based Policy making. All three political parties in Somaliland have failed to develop robust, well thought through policies based on evidence but instead then consistently churn out edicts based on no more than statements of opinion and not facts. Yet, no one, including the media, holds them to account. Political affiliation is a pseudo-tribe for many. By this I mean, how can someone not knowingwhat a political party stands for or what their policies are (because they have none or very few at best) support them.That is why it is time for Somalilanders, journalists and the politicians themselves to hold everyone to account based on a modern day Political standard underpinned by Policy and not politics (with a small p).    

Finally, Politics in Somaliland is missing objective political commentary. Political commentary is still fundamentally based around clan politics and ‘Fake News’ as President Trump likes to call it. Lets face it, as Somalis we love to talk politics – from under a tree in the midday sun in Burco to reading an online article in a Costa in Central London – however, we fail to disseminate ‘Politics’ from ‘Fake News’. Most political conversations we have, young or old tends to revolve around uncorroborated conjecture and wild conspiracy theories which turn everything into an ‘us vs them’ scenario. That is why it is time for the government the sponsor an ‘impartial’ and highly regulated state news agency based on improving the standard of political commentary. 

We have come leaps and bounds since our independence but we are nowhere near where we need to be. Yes, the Western world took many, many years to reach where they are but we should learn from their mistakes and build upon their achievements to create a Somaliland we can be proud of.

Sharmake Ali Abyan 

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