Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Somalis should give Sheikh Sharif a chance to govern

After two years of brutal occupation of Somalia, Ethiopian troops hurriedly vacated Somali soil entirely this week with little or no farewell from the broader Somali community. The vacuum left by Ethiopian troops is being fought over by vulturous warring Somali groups constituting Jihadists, forces of the otiose Somali Federal Government, plunderers, warlords, petty thieves, and bullet-scarred scavenging civilians. Widespread looting has been reported in the areas vacated by the Ethiopian army; the heavily-armed Al-Shabab militia is reported to be now in control of Baidoa, the seat of the Somali federal parliament; and there exist much jostling for supremacy in central Somalia and the Gedo region.

Media sources report that, Al-Shabab, Somalia's most powerful religious fighting force, has imposed Sheria law in Baidoa and that it has publicly carried out the first Islamic ruling by amputating the hand of a man said to have been caught in the act of stealing. This form of punishment does not augur well with western democracies.

In neighboring Djibouti, the formation of a new government is in the process; a new batch of 275 parliamentarians took the oath; the breakaway unrecognized Somaliland enclave has voiced its objection to any invitation to the talks in Djibouti by claiming to be a sovereign entity with fully working democratic institutions in place; and Somalia's southern neighbor, Kenya, is sending back thousands of Somali refugees back to Somalia citing security concerns, shortage of food, and arms proliferation.

After intense lobbying, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, the head of the disbanded Islamic Courts Union (ICU)is being predicted to garner considerable support from the 550 parliamentarians currently in Djibouti and thus proclaim the Presidency. A former Qur'anic teacher with little political experience, Sheikh Sharif came to the political limelight in 2006 when an amalgamation of eleven courts he headed routed the callous warlords that held Somalia ransom for over a decade and a half. The courts disbanded in December of 2006 when Ethiopia's well-armed troops bombarded the city of Mogadishu before heading to the southern port town of Kismayu to pursue fleeing court members.

Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, a man often referred to as a moderate Muslim by Western media, has a greater chance of becoming Somalia's next transitional President. The Sheikh seems to have some leadership qualities notably that of director, producer, facilitator, broker, and mentor. Given the chance to effectively govern a failed state like Somalia, the Sheikh may prove himself better than the likes of General Mohamed Farah Aideed, Ali Mahdi Mohamed, Abdiqasim Salat Hassan, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, Ali Mohamed Gedi and the host of political rejects who failed miserably due to futile political ambitions driven by selfish aims and tribal proclivity.

Sheikh Sharif climbed the ladder of political success within a short period mainly because of his vision which is centered on the formation of an all-inclusive unified Somali government based on mutual respect and justice. The Sheikh is a graduate of universities in Sudan and Libya and is knowledgeable in the fields of social governance, social equality, religious justice, and political leadership. For his leadership to be fruitful, the Sheikh will need honest, reliable, and experienced advisers in matters pertaining to national security, national reconstruction, political pluralism, social recovery, agricultural revivalism, constitutional reviews, religious propagation, and tribal affairs.

Should the Sheikh win the Presidency, one burning political consideration will be finding the right person for the powerful post of Prime Minister. Having a candidate who has the Somali nation at heart assume the role of Prime Minister will tremendously boost the President-elect's rating and usher in an era of peace and prosperity. It will be of paramount importance if the bloated parliament is broken in to two houses: upper and lower houses of parliament. The effectiveness of the new administration will depend on how quickly it reconciles the various waring parties, how it quickly disarms all armed groups, and how it tactically tackles property reallocation. Regardless of who becomes the next President, Somalia must not be left in its current state any further. The country has had enough of evil for two decades.

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