Somalia: The new Mogadishu Cabinet as Perceived by Uluso


M Uluso

Somalilandsun From the beginning, the daily leaks about the selection process of the new Cabinet (Council of Ministers) of Somalia headed by Prime Minister (PM) Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed have baffled both Somalis and foreign observers of the Somali politics. The parliament debated a motion on the exclusion of former members of the voted out cabinet from the new cabinet.

The media reported disagreements, confusion, exhaustion, and disastrous arrangement for the announcement of the new Cabinet made around 2:30 AM Mogadishu local time on Friday morning – an important holiday for Muslims.

The formality and the time were weird, unprecedented, and unwise way of managing such an important political event. So far, it is not clear the reasons behind this clumsy policy decision making process and political event that took 37 days of planning. Unusually, the President and the Speaker of parliament did not attend the ceremony for the announcement of the new Cabinet. The presidential spokesperson issued press release saying the president has approved the new cabinet. No information about the administrative actions between the President and PM’s offices on the subject for public record.

The PM personally read out the names of the Cabinet members without providing their background in terms of full name, education, experience, clan affiliation in conformity with the power sharing parliamentary representation formula, and cabinet Department. This first step did not augur hopeful future.

The new Cabinet is composed of 56 members- the Prime Minister, 25 ministers, 5 state ministers, and 25 deputy ministers. One positive development is that all positions have been filled at once and no state minister has been appointed to the presidency. With the exception of few new faces, the 56 new cabinet members belong to six intersecting groups:

1. Corruption kingpins/graduates group. The leaders of the federal government did not bother to consider the UN Monitoring Group reports for the disqualification of certain individuals for past reported malfeasances;

2. Nightlife group. This group includes members of parliament (MPs), instrumental for fomenting political chaos. They are peddlers of political corruption.

3. Anti-Sovereignty, independence, and dignity of the Somali people group; Members of this group are ardent supporters of foreign agenda against national agenda and solidarity. The prolonged political chaos in Somalia has convinced few unscrupulous and selfish individuals to seek self-enrichment opportunities by presenting themselves as faithful agents to foreign countries.

4. Opponents of the Constitutional power sharing formula on political representation to gain political power outside the agreed clan formula. This group wants to continue civil hostilities and dissonance.

5. Members of religious group Al Islah-Damul Jadid. The cabinet members associated with the group are more than 30. Selection based on Religious group membership over clan and competence consideration complicates Somali politics.

6. Members of former incompetent cabinet voted out by the federal parliament. The leaders of the federal government missed the point that politicians lose the qualification for appointment for political considerations in addition to the constitutional criteria. Political appointees are not like civil service employees.

It seems that advancing the interests and priorities of Somalia and the respect of the constitutional goals and political representation among the Somali people were not the guiding principles for the selection of the new Cabinet members. The discrimination among former Shirdon Cabinet members had fuelled the intense debate and criticisms that would further weaken the federal government.

In the context of Somali politics, the growing perception is that the composition of the new Cabinet undermines the high expectation conferred on the federal government leaders. Some observers are of the opinion that the former Speaker and minister of finance Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan has secured the inclusion of his diehard allies in the cabinet. This reinforces the view that the federal government accepted the inevitability of Somalia’s disintegration, subscribed to the surrender policy, and decided to empower elements of anti-sovereignty, independence, and dignity of Somali people.

The media has particularly focused on the powerful Ministers of finance (Hussein Abdi Halane), justice and constitution (Farah Abdulkhadir), interior and federalism (Abdullahi Godax), internal security (Abdikarim Guled), and defense (Gen. Mohamed Sheikh). All sorts of unflattering allegations against these ministries have dominated the conversation among Somalis. Cartoonist Amin Amir reflected the substance of the conversation in his daily cartoons.

As Federalism and constitutional review are politically very sensitive issues for the future of Somalia, the new ministries of interior and federal affairs, of internal security, and of justice and constitution attract particular attention. The experience of the roadmap and provisional constitution, of the Jubbaland State agreement in Addis Ababa, and of Baidoa Conference on South West state, has dented the credibility of the federal government on federalism and state building and casts shadow on them.

Arbitrary decisions and actions without reference to credible and transparent deliberative decision making process is feeding public discontent and anger and could trigger social eruption that could reverse the progress made so far in the fight against terrorism for building peace and state institutions. The pointed questions asked President Hassan in his appearance at Universal TV tell a lot about the public opinion towards the performance of the federal government.

The indifference to respond to the increasing complain about unfairness, injustice, lack of participation, corruption, abuse of political power, marginalization, fraudulent political representation, insecurity, and ill-considered support of governance structures without legal framework encourages the culture of cynicism and defeats the common national and international goals of peace, stability and prosperity in Somalia. Complain about underrepresentation is linked to overrepresentation and it merits redress.

The federal parliament approved the new Cabinet because of external maneuvers, corruption, and article 67 of the provisional constitution. But, there are three possible scenarios as consequences after this new cabinet:

I. The new cabinet will represent the end of any national nominal government in Somalia and the fate of Somalia will be decided by the neighboring countries before 2016;

II. In reaction to the political and constitutional transgressions, a popular revolt could take place before 2015;

III. The country will remain in perpetual turmoil to the detriment of all.

The leaders of the federal government shoulder grave responsibilities in this dark circumstance and the current indifference or self-serving approach is not the proper response for facing the overwhelming challenges of Somalia. Political courage, wisdom, sense of patriotism and conviction, and other leadership skills hold the key for turning around the worrisome prospect of the country.

Mohamud M Uluso