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Khaire’s departure means Somalia has one less scapegoat but original problem persists


EDITORIAL | Very few people can predict Somalia’s political landscape these days. And the events this past week were consistent with that uncertainty. The general feeling, however, is that Somalia needs a solution on how to conduct elections.

So how did the country end up here? It is true that Somalia was to have one-person-one-vote elections by November this year. Every stakeholder failed to ensure that happens, particularly the federal government of Somalia [FGS].

In the wake of that failure, leaders then agreed to meet in Dhusamareb, the capital Galmudug state to discuss plan B. Plan B didn’t really come through, but the FGS and the federal member states agreed to form a joint technical committee to look into modalities of elections.

In two weeks’ time, that committee is expected to table its recommendations which may or may not be adopted. And that could mean we will either have an electoral calendar or go back to square zero.

Mahdi Guled, the acting Prime Minister, assured this week that the committee will be allowed to work and promised commitment to “strengthening our democracy.” Gulaid has already chaired two cabinet meetings, assured the public, and lampooned certain foreign partners of interference in their critical comments about Khaire’s ouster. All these, however, indicate he was already working on substantive issues.

But then Khaire’s shadow seems to linger all over his office. His council of ministers was appointed by Khaire and some even voted against the PM on the Floor of the House. There are questions on the legality of Khaire’s ouster such as lack of a proper motion tabled in parliament and that the impeachment agenda was not on the order paper of Saturday, July 25, the day he was removed from office.

The question of legality has roped in opposition leaders who argue the idea was to derail Dhusamareb. President Farmaajo on his part argues the “independence” of parliament means he could not overturn the decision.

In Farmaajo’s s three-year stint, however, Khaire is not blameless. He led the executive arm of the government, appointing and appraising ministers. He was charged with ensuring economic programs, political steps are taken. To his credit, Somalia is now eligible to borrow again from the international markets. The military is better managed after ghost workers were removed.

But Khaire’s report card on the political scene was poor. He was indecisive and could not resolve the continual wrangles between FGS and the federal member states. He failed to oversee a constitutional review and the national independent electoral commission [NIEC] complained it had no resources to run the polls. Some key opposition figures even accused his charges of harassing them.

With his departure, perhaps the FGS and everyone else who saw him as a stumbling block have lost a scapegoat. They know they can now work on their priorities.

However, Khaire’s resignation has not resolved the problem: Which model of elections will be used, and when will elections be? Some have argued he had impeded Farmaajo’s legacy by planning for his own political ambitions. Others say he was removed so the option of timely elections becomes void, and so that proponents of term extension can argue their case.

None of these deals with what ordinary folk want. It was encouraging that the acting PM Gulaid vowed to ensure the program is not interfered with. But Somalia is still an uncertain polity: Whether he will survive in the position or be thrown out, and hence the cabinet of Khaire too, is the question only Farmaajo can answer.

It has been encouraging to see the Speakers of both Houses of Parliament galvanizing support, especially from the critical opposition groups. But it will be up to President Farmaajo to decide whether a PM he appoints is one that brings confidence to the public, or ensures his political ambitions are taken care of. Only one of those enjoys public support.