Thursday, December 18, 2008

POLITICAL COLLISION IN SOMALIA



A bleak picture is emerging from the Somali political spectrum again. This time, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, President of the Somali Transitional Federal Government, hereafter referred to as the TFG, sacked his Prime Minister, Mr. Nur Hassan Hussein, because, as the President contends, Nuur Cadde, as the Prime Minister is popularly known, failed to reconcile Somalia's warring factions. But the truth of the matter is, the whole scenario, as can be seen from Somalia's past divisions, rests on the idea of tribal hegemony and power medley. Thus, The TFG that was formed in Kenya about four years ago, is on the verge of collapse.

Sardonically, Instead of correcting the wrongs that bedeviled the nation since 1991, the President, has instead stumbled into murky waters and lost popular consensus. On the other hand, he has appointed a new Prime Minister named Gacmadheere who is said to be close to him in friendship and has been mentioned in the exclusive coverage Warlords Next Door by Britain's Channel 4 TV as having taken part in the slaughter of many innocent Somalis.

Disturbed by the political events in Somalia, neighboring Kenya's Foreign Minister, Moses Wetangula, has been quoted as saying that Mr. Yusuf and his family have been banished from Kenyan soil and that his assets will be frozen. Likewise, Ethiopia, the main power behind Mr. Yusuf's enthronement, has voiced deep concern at the sudden turn of events.

On the other hand, Somalia's otiose parliament in Baidoa is debating a vote of no confidence aimed at alienating Mr. Yusuf. Whether this vote holds or not will not make any difference since the nation is already in tatters. For now, Somalia has two Prime Ministers, something never before seen in modern history.

To add insult to injury, Mohamed Dheere, former warlord and recently ousted illiterate mayor of Mogadishu, is beating the drums of war in Baidoa and bitterly contesting to be considered for the powerful Prime Ministerial post. Both Mohamed Dheere and Nuur Cadde hail from the Abgaal tribe that heavily populate the City of Mogadishu.

While bitterness and animosity engulfs Somalia's malfunctioning government, Al-Shabab, an amalgamation of youth fighters struggling to oust the government and their backers (Ethiopian forces and Amisom peacekeeping troops) continue to spread their sphere of influence in the country. The level of violence will escalate as Al-Shabaab will seize the opportunity to capture more grounds.

The unexpected political jostling that gripped Somalia for the past few days has left the administration in Addis Ababa, Bujumbura, and Kampala in utter bewilderment. Obviously, the much anticipated Ethiopian troop withdrawal from Somalia, as I see it, will be halted for now until the dust settles.

Likewise, the humanitarian situation in Mogadishu will tremendously deteriorate as the spiral of violence will accelerate to dangerous proportions. Piracy along the Somali coasts will proliferate despite the presence of powerful Navies sanctioned by the international community. It will be the survival of the fittest.

President Yusuf's endeavors to effect regime change on the office of the Prime Minister may not materialize for now. He succeeded at ousting former Prime Minister Professor Ali Mohamed Gedi sometimes back but the same tricks may not work for him in succession because all concerned groups have seen the ineffective administrative styles he embodies.

Ironically, the octogenarian President is the longest liver transplant patient; he is the longest surviving guerrilla fighter; he has stumbled many times in the past politically; and he may not have enough energy to keep him moving anymore in Somalia's murky arena of deceit and debauchery. As usual, deceit happens only once among Somalis and not twice. This is one trick he has failed to master.

The agreement reached in Djibouti between the Courts remnants headed by Sheikh Shariff Sheikh Ahmed and the TFG is the major cause of the schisms happening in Somalia right now. Because both Nuur Cadde and Sheikh Shariff hail from the Hawiye clan and that Abdullahi Yusuf is from the Darod clan, Yusuf found the agreement as a stumbling block to his dictatorial rule. On the other hand, he found himself wedged between two hard rocks. Rather than see himself as a lame duck in a government manipulated by two antagonists, he chose to spill the beans before the agreement took effect. The expansion of parliament to 550 members did not augur well with Yusuf as the Hawiye would be majority in the House which means he would be ousted by a simple unanimous parliamentary vote of no confidence.

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