Friday, September 14, 2012



President Mohamoud being declared the winner in a presidential election inside parliament in Mogadishu

By Jerry Okungu
Nairobi Kenya
September 12, 2012

Optimistic new Somalia President sets agenda for rebuilding his new state. Really?
Din of hammers now dominate Mogadishu! Really?
These two statements formed the headlines of Somalia Rebirth in a Kenyan newspaper. Ironically, just two days after Sheikh Mohamoud was elected President of the new Somalia, two bombs rocked the hotel in which he was receiving a good will message from Kenya’s President Kibaki.

By the grace of God, Kenya’s Foreign Minister, Sam Ongeri and President Mohamoud survived the attack in which scores died including the suicide bomber. Had the plot succeeded, Mohamoud would have gone down in history as the first Head of State to have served Somalia for two days!

As expected, the Al Shabaab militias readily claimed responsibility and took credit for that daring attack.

When this news came in, I remembered the prophecy of lawyer Nelson Havi just a day earlier. As we went through the morning papers a day after the elections, he casually hinted that Somalis were not ready for a peaceful nation. He was sure that Mohamoud’s election would be contested by one clan or another because the young Somali generation cannot handle peace for it is a foreign concept to them.

When Abdulahi Yusuf became the first transitional federal president following an election by clan representatives in Nairobi way back in 2005, I predicted in the local press that Somalis would reject him. My premise at that time was that the Somali Diaspora who elected him in a foreign land had no control of militias back home. When I visited Somaliland that year, I came to understand better the Somali riddle. I was told by the then Somaliland Foreign Minister that warlords who go to live abroad are soon replaced by new warlords back home such that in the last 20 years, the number of warlords had multiplied ten-fold over time.

When I saw 260 parliamentarians who were not elected by universal suffrage this week pretending to be sitting in parliament to elect their country’s president, I felt sad for Somalia. I could see they were falling in the same trap their predecessors fell in 2005 in Nairobi. The only difference was that they were in Mogadishu.

Looking at the profile of most MPs in that Parliament, one could see that quite a number of them including Mohamoud were those that moved a broad and lived in comfort and possibly still had their families living in Western capitals or safe havens like Nairobi , Dubai and Djibouti.

During the presidential elections, I saw something akin to a presidential campaign where a group of children and women were running around with posters and branded T shirts for various candidates. The question I asked was this: if candidates can campaign among the public, why didn’t they seek the mandate of the Somali electorate directly? Why did the constitution opt for selection of MPs by clans then gave the same selected MPs to choose their new President?

Let us face it; the gap between returnees and home grown Somalis is too wide. In fact the two sets of Somalis are foreigners to one another. One group is fabulously rich, educated and affluent. The other is pitifully poor, uneducated and has survived all these years by the grace of God and the gun. They have nothing in common. One preaches order and democracy. The other yearns for a meal on the table for his family and the only means he knows is to use the gun. This wretched of the earth appreciates a permanent fight for equality for as long as he lives. This is the type that understands the language of Al Shabbab and pirates and sees them as his role models.

In my opinion true democracy and peace can only return to Somalia upon one condition. Returnees must be prepared to sacrifice their ambitions for power and share substantive power with locals. Under the circumstances, the best option is to create autonomous states with local governors and have a ceremonial president to deal with mundane issues such as diplomatic missions and receive visiting dignitaries. Let this ceremonial president also control a small national army, the police force and the Supreme Court if another round of violence is to be averted.

With the experience of Kenya’s Foreign Minister just two days after the election, it will be awhile before another dignitary pays a courtesy call to President Mohamoud, least of all any Head of State.

Another thing; maintaining the security of this President is going to be an expensive affair because attempts on his life will intensify as days pass by. Those who wanted to kill him last Wednesday will not relent in their schemes. Therefore his sponsors such as Kenya, the AU, AMISOM, the UN, the EU and the US must be prepared for the long haul.

Yes war and manufactured peace can equally be expensive.