By: Liban Ahmad
(Somalilandsun) – The list of presidential candidates for Somalia’s post- August 2012 presidency is growing. Twenty years ago this time Somalia was in headlines and on prime time TV news because of famine in southern Somalia.
Notwithstanding political and security challenges Somalia is facing, efforts to end transitional government and replace it with a permanent government is even backed by Somaliland administration whose president, Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo, met president Sharif Ahmed of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Dubai a few days ago.
President Sharif Ahmed is a contender for the presidency. The new parliament to be formed will have Members of Parliament ( MPs) half the number of MPs in the outgoing parliament, depriving of president Sharif of the privilege he enjoyed as leader of the former Alliance for the Reliberation of Somalia (ARS) when his group was given the same number of MPs as TFG’s after ARS and the TFG signed agreement in 2008 in Djibouti.
President Sharif has several advantages over other presidential candidates. He is no longer described as inexperienced president; he has nearly four years of presidential experience under his belt; TFG forces have, with the help of AMISOM, kicked Al Shabaab out of Mogadishu, Afgoye and Balca’d whereas Ethiopia’s army forced Al Shabaab militias to flee Beledweyne, Baydhabo and some districts in Gedo region; unlike his colleague, Sharif Hassan, the speaker of the transitional parliament, president Sharif is not perceived as keen on handpicking traditional elders of his clan who will select MPs.
The parliamentary speaker’s role in the political process to end the transition is unfairly seen by many people as cumbersome disadvantage for institutions that will be formed in August 2012: the new dispensation will have the same features of the ARS-dominated TFG government formed in 2009 when president Sharif was elected, they argue. Such an outcome may not please Puntland which pushed for ending the transitional government in the hope of seeing a new president in Mogadishu and codifying federalism in the new constitution to be adopted soon as a basis for the new government in August.
Rather than looking at candidacy of president Sharif as threat to interests of various political enemies in Somalia it can be viewed as chance to help people in southern Somalia see the emergence of a new breed of leaders in southern Somalia, a scenario which has the potential to help southern Somalia breathe a new life into its diversity roots. If president Sharif wins re-election in August he can plan for his legacy and take inspiration from the legacy of Aden Abdulle Osman, the first president of Somalia ( 1960-1967) under whose leadership Somalia developed nascent democratic institutions and promoted free speech exemplified by the now defunct English monthly publication, Dalka, ( The Country) launched in 1965 by the late lawyer Yusuf Jama Dhuhul.