The peaceful transfer of power between President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo and President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud indicates that Somalia is heading in the right direction, and his second term in office is expected to pave the way for a stable country.
President Hassan Sheikh was less popular and less skilled when I wrote about his first presidential tenure ten years ago, but he’s more skilled and older today. Determined to lead the country a second time, he won a presidential seat contended by more than thirty candidates. The seat’s emotional stakes were very high, indeed. However, he outperformed the rest and ascended Somalia’s highest chair once again, making him the country’s 10th president and the only one elected twice. And his predecessor, President Mohamed Farmaajo, graciously conceded the election’s result.
When first elected in 2012, President Hassan wasn’t known to the vast majority of the Somali people, albeit his involvement in the civil society sector. But today he’s a renowned figure due to the presidential position. Being a president is a prestige not everybody can gain; it’s a God-given position saddled with weighty responsibilities. He’s responsible for the well-being of the country’s population, and they owe him loyalty and respect. In other words, the president and his people ought to reinforce and reflect on each other.
President Hassan should strive for impartiality. He needs to refrain from favouring any one particular group of the Somali society. Yes, every leader may side with his supporters and party members, but any disproportionate, preferential treatment he gives to his buddies will tarnish his image and that of the country.
Numerous challenges are awaiting the president but they shouldn’t deter him. The challenges include insecurity, imperfect institutions, and external relations. Insecurity is a protracted problem that has plagued the country for many decades, and it’s the root cause of the multifaceted predicaments in the country. But nobody knows how long the permeating insecurity will linger. Fortunately, though, the president is prioritizing this issue.
He’s already vowed to lead Somalia that is at peace with itself and with the world. With this promise in mind, he must engage and enhance the country’s armed forces and spend on them accordingly. The former president, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, is credited to have scaled up the quantity and improved the quality of the armed forces to carry out their duties effectively; let President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud do the same and build on those previous efforts. Incentivizing, encouraging, and engaging the army is a magnanimous effort the country needs.
The institutional crisis is another predicament the president is facing. The federal government and its federal states are supposed to improve their relations and work harmoniously. Improving such collaborations requires ending existing Pickering, starting genuine reconciling processes, and drawing clear boundaries between central and federal states. Perhaps, revising and rectifying the country’s draft constitution will end the skirmishes between the two jurisdictions.
During his first term in office, the president contributed to the formation of the federal states, so he has got an ample experience under his belt. Thus, he can help bring about cohesive federal states that are at peace with themselves and with the federal government headed by him.
Somalia also needs to be at peace with the world. Cordial relations need to be cultivated, but the country mustn’t fall prey to exploitation. It’s not subservient to any foreign country. Somalia is an independent country, not a colony. Doubtlessly, Somalia and the world need one another, so they need to play by the rules. They’ve to give and take from each other.
Is there anything that Somalia can give out? Yes, it’s filled with resources of all kinds and has plenty to offer in exchange. Hence, it doesn’t need to continuously import nonessential commodities from neighboring countries without getting any tangible thing in return. Let the president’s administration wake up to this nagging reality.
Somalia is moving forward and its people ought to pull together in the right direction. Conducting something tantamount to democratic processes is part of the progression. How President Farmaajo and President Mohamud held hands and hugged one another after the winner of the presidential seat had been announced is a vivid example. The same thing occurred previously between the two of them. The presidential seat is just one, and only one person can occupy it. And the rest of the people are expected to respect the honour of the seat and its occupant. It’s the image of their country, it’s the essence of their state.
If Somalis become at peace with themselves and enhance their federal and central institutions, their country will stabilize, and President Hassan’s motto is “Somalia at peace with itself and with the rest of the world”, which encapsulates the core of his administration’s duties.