Home | Comment & Analysis    Tuesday 28 November 2017

Somaliland’s miraculous elections and optimism of the new leader


By Abdirahman M Dirye

On November 13, Somaliland presidential election held peacefully; voters queued long lines in the capital Hargaysa to cast their vote for their favourite future leader, and it was a turning point for our small nation of Somaliland in limbo for decades since its inception in 1991. The elections by far was the fairest and freest election in the continent ahead of Kenya and sometimes South Africa—the North Africans had seen one or two presidents in their whole lifetime—Somaliland has chosen its fifth president and power has been transferred peacefully—the irony is that the president of Somalia Farmaajo who went to the UAE to cancel multimillion investment in Berbera seaport city to create jobs for multitudes of jobless youth aiming at the Med risky voyage, willy-nilly congratulated the nation he and his suffering people most hated after the world admired the vibrant democracy in action in full view of the entire world to see it! Somaliland is both an African and Muslim country, two characters widely believed to be inherently incompatible with democracy.
Muse’s second speech disappointed the vampire vermin diaspora and his greedy backers who intended to use him as a tool for massive embezzlement as they did to the outgoing president, so far so good, he displayed the true leadership traits: aggressive, decisive, and effective. “You’ll regret your votes, don’t inflate your expectations on me! Sometimes I displease you” delivered Muse in front of his fans, in other words, Muse burnt bridges behind to rebuild a nation in dreams in tatters: economically devastatingly.
President-elect Muse Bihi won landslide victory of not less than 50 % of the total casted votes; it wasn’t without controversy. The main opposition party Waddani called the result “widely rigged” but the ruling party responded “it’s an unsubstantiated allegation!” Waddani presidential candidate following his days of silence and no-response-state, speculation what might happen to people of Somaliland if he boycotts the election outcome, had worried the people but he elaborated his stand on it “I am sacrificing my personal ambition for the sake of my nation to avoid bloodshed of my people” this historic address from a great minded leader Iro of Waddani opposition party reassuring the region of the Horn of Africa and the entire world that Somaliland at crossroad passed the last enormous challenge to face ever and will remain safe forever. This remark disappointed Somaliland’s fifth column and other external arch foes awaiting a war breakout so that our girls rushed to everywhere in the world and become open game.

Iro’s historic concession for the sake of his nation reminded me as a pessimist national when American senator regretted the massacred Jews in the Holocaust out of political negligence by the free world “if I could talk to Hitler, all this (the bloodbath of the Jews) could be avoided” expressed George the junior the former US president to Knesset of the Israeli parliament during his last visit to the State of Israel. Remember words matter. Imagine if Iro insisted on a rigid position about the election result regardless the harm his words can do to his people and the globalized world of which insecurity of one part affects the rest. Somalilanders walk a tightrope amidst of sleeping cells of criminality and live in fragile peace. A slip of a tongue can launch a deadly conflict but Somalilanders, unlike Somalis, know to smartly navigate the shark-infested sea safely.
The president-elect’s first speech broadcasted on the national television was one of unity and reconciliation, to the election campaign polarized nation; it was a step in the right direction.

What can be expected of the president-elect?
In 2010, when the outgoing president Silanyo came office, I wrote an article about how he and his team will rule the country for the next seven years or more, much of what I said in the article proved prophetic! The massive corruption, and the mismanagement of the state contract, the nepotism and cronyism. But this time, I will try to view Muse Bihi the president-elect through democratic process as an individual who has pros and cos and politically matured with the passing time and I try to judge him fairly as much as I can with my ‘biased’ eyes perhaps. Is he the man of 1994, the emotional, the sentimental at the behest of cruel statesmen who are much older or more seasoned ones than him? The answer emphatically is big NO. During the last five years, he endured power struggle and faced life tests when the president provoked him to know exactly who Muse Bihi is. His first speech in post-elections sounded very much unifying leaving no room for a doubt. “Not only Kulmiye (his ruling party) won but entire Somaliland has won). Said he. Before the elections many local politics commentators including myself thought of him as a troublemaker, vengeful who would take the country back to 1991 or even beyond when the wars were the norm. But so far so good; his conciliatory short address to the nation inspired his rivals and fans alike.

His old colleagues have high expectations in him that he’ll lead the nation better than his aged predecessor victimized by his family and tribe who ruled Somaliland on his behalf using him as a rubber stamp. Muse Bihi will dismiss the vermin ministers, tackle the massive corruption the economic cancer that paralyzed the nation’s economy: the ongoing looting of the nation’s public purse, common theft of state money, enforce the rule of law, and fight militancy and radicalism, and form a lean government to wisely utilize the national budget, bring Buhoodle, the last remaining outpost, under Somaliland’s control. In realpolitik, much of the electioneering slogans “the law is upheld” “no longer a pushover to anybody” are not fulfilled in the post-power games but will he keep his some of his promises? I really doubt if the Jeegaan dispute will arise.

Jeegaan or bi-tribal ‘holy’ alliance of Habar Jeclo and Sacad Muse tit for tat or mere luck enabled Muse Bihi to secure power. Each tribe sends its candidate in every ten years. The outgoing president tested successfully with the ruling party having an icon of two hands in glove only death can depart us mood. This clannish structure, Silanyo’s greatest legacy, born out of paranoia against a certain tribe will soon lose its taste and weaken the nation’s resilience in the time of the enormous challenges ahead. ‘Hostile’ tribe perceived by some sister clans need to build trust and love relationships extending peaceful hand to fearful smaller clans in Somaliland, heal the old wounds, and mend ties. Otherwise, Somalia’s air forces and an army under buildup from Turkey and other Western countries that trains Somali cadets in and out of the country will relaunch deadly attacks against it when Somaliland is losing its highly trained ex-commandoes to unnecessary replacements.

Somaliland lacked effective leadership it had before the outgoing president fell sick therefore the socioeconomic hardships intensified immediately. During Siilanyo-led administration, the local currency lost 50% of its value against the dollar—5000 shillings during Silanyo’s predecessor to 12,000 Somaliland shillings in his reign. Life toughened for millions of Somalilanders cursing the elder economist who under his leadership, life became out of the frying pan into fire. Millions of heads of camels perished in hellish famine in the East never seen before. IDPs knocked every door in Burco or elsewhere.

Will the president-elect Muse Bihi Abdi able to turn over apart from his honeyed remarks can’t be harshly judged until time and space are given to him? Only time will tell but the status quo isn’t sustainable because Somaliland soon or later heads into Somalia’s style political disintegration unto fiefdoms and brutal sheikhdoms of midget presidents with nominal power over their claimed territories.

Dirye is a Somaliland Writer based in Hargaysa, email, mrdirye@gmail.com or twitter account @mrdirye

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