Throughout the past five months, bad governance has seriously thwarted efforts to stabilize Somalia. Millions of dollars allocated for humanitarian and security assistance were misused or wasted on lavish presidential travels and flawed efforts to arm clan militias that raised a very serious clan rivalry in the southern and central regions.
THE MAY 2022 ELECTION
The election cycle of 2016/17 was fraught with vote-buying and candidates choosing their own electors. The results were predictable for the individuals that rigged the elections, encouraging them and others to emulate them in the election cycle of 2021/22. This cycle was even more corrupt and less open, with almost all seats closed for selected candidates.
Without doubt, the 2021/22 parliamentary elections yielded the desired outcomes for those who rigged the elections. They succeeded in electing virtually all their desired candidates to parliament. The only lesson here is that it is politically advantageous to rig elections and that there is no accountability for doing so. Rational political actors will calculate that they would have to be even more vicious in their vote rigging and buying in the next election cycle.
As the Somali public does not pay the bulk of the funds that run the federal government, its leaders have no respect for them or their priorities. The government has more respect and is more responsive to the international community that pays its bills and gives it physical protection. It is therefore unlikely that universal suffrage will ever be achieved in Somalia in the foreseeable future, as long as the international partners do not tie their support to democratisation and good governance.
Continuing in this path will not only progressively degrade public confidence in the government but will also fail to achieve the goals of the government’s international backers. Security will further worsen as security forces are used for political reasons; immigration will pick up as the country is mismanaged without accountability; and piracy may see a comeback as economic opportunities decline. Of more interest to the international partners, terrorist groups will continue expanding in the country and using it as a base of operations to destabilise the region and beyond.
SOMALIA NEEDS TO FOCUS DEMOCRATISATION AND GOOD GOVERNANCE
Therefore, the international support for Somalia needs to focus on democratisation and good governance and allowing a vibrant civil society that stands as a check and balance for the authorities in Somalia, not for the interests of the Somali people, but for theirs. Remaining on this path will only waste their taxpayers’ money while attaining negligible effects in support of their respective national objectives.
The president, who campaigned to unite the nation, had a unique opportunity to collaborate with Somalia’s competing political interests to create a unified government. Rather than fulfilling those promises, the president’s solo decisions and policymaking without consulting with parliament, have become increasingly authoritarian, turning the prime minister’s role as non-functioning, losing the support of the majority of the public!
Rebuilding Somalia, a country devastated by decades of civil war and violent extremism is daunting. Thus, this goal should be the government’s primary focus with the support of international partners, funding Somalia to help build a government, provide a secure and stable life for the Somali people, and create resiliency against al-Shabaab. The current government needs a developed strategy, plans, ends, ways and means to achieve them. The state of affairs in the country now seems like a one-man solo show!
By: Mohamud A. Nur
An independent political analyst