EDITORIAL: Somalia’s next elections should produce real change makers
EDITORIAL | Somalia may be holding its heart in its mouth for the upcoming elections, whose calendar was only secured last month after leaders accepted to talk at the eleventh hour.
And there could be a variety of reasons to be anxious because the country’s challenges appear hinged on what the next polls produce. Of course, Somalia’s elections are not expected to be perfect and the fact that it will be indirect elections means the hopes of millions of Somalis will be placed in the hands of very few individuals.
So how do the politicians honour the people they will represent? There will be many tasks but we encourage the delegates and the legislators who will come out of next December’s elections to remember that the future of the country will no longer rely on its past challenges, but will rest on the hands of the new chosen ones.
First, we hope that the delegates and the representatives to be chosen will make a gene pool of qualified individuals with impeccable credentials. There have been a number of conditions being bandied around as to who will actually qualify to be elected. We hope that, apart from the money needed to register, there has to be a category about one being Somali.
For a number of years, the criticism has been that politicians simply fly in from the diaspora, with huge chunks of money which they bribe the elders and get elected. Then they fly out, having secured a money-minting position. We hope the next Somali legislature will have folks who think of Somalia more than their hideouts abroad.
Indeed, this anomaly in Somalia brings us to the next call. Somalia urgently needs a new constitution that can cure various ailments the country faces. A new constitution must clarify powers, functions, and even titles for leaders of the federal government and federal member states.
Much of Somalia’s cyclic chaos have come from vague entitlements and unnecessary rivalries between the federal government and the Federal States. As it is, there is no law that unifies electoral calendars at each level of the government. The country has been relying on a provisional constitution for the last eight years and we think the next parliament must ensure the four years achieve this needed resource.
That means the lawmakers must vote for the right President with this ambition in mind. The outgoing administration had a duty to deliver the new constitution, which would have also guided the achievement of universal suffrage. Both failed to be attained and politicians bickered on who should take the blame.
We may be tempted to go the same way and perhaps blame all people in leadership positions. But Somalia ought to use this experience to turn around its future. Legislators who will be chosen from next December have a duty to elect a president who will stick to the key priorities.
They include finalizing the new constitution, enacting a legal regime to achieve universal suffrage, and empower the Federal System that has clear mandates. What is more? We need a President and parliament that will continuously strengthen the national army to target the biggest threat Somalia faces today: Al-Shabaab.
As is common around the world, a country emerging from years of conflict can be weak. Somalia is still weak and will need stronger partners to support it back on its feet. What the country has faced to date is a mixture of foreign entities, some keen to help while others focused on dividing and ruling.
The next President must be able to sieve friends from hypocrites and establish a foreign policy that will centralize decisions on Somalia’s, not personal, interest.
We think that Somalia can be stronger if it has supportive partners, those who will channel their support to areas most needed to develop. We hope that Somalia’s partners will not be those who see the country as war-torn and hence in need of spoonfeeding, but those who willingly want to help it support its own destiny.