22-02-2021 - - 0 comments

We, in this campaign, strongly condemn last night's armed assault on Hotel Maai'da where opposition leaders were staying by forces loyal to the lapsed Farmaajo regime. The aim of this armed assault was to eliminate the main opposition figures, including former Presidents Sharif Sh. Ahmed and Hassan Sh. Mohamud, and former Speaker of Parliament Sharif Hassan Sh. Aden. This extreme political violence and wanton destruction of human life and property should be condemned by every right-minded citizen of Somalia and the representatives of our international partners on the ground.2

All right-minded people should also condemn the regime's crackdown on the Somali people's constitutional right to peacefully protest which arises out of the right to freedom of assembly and the right to freedom of association. The lapsed regime's assault on Somalia's nascent democratic governance, electoral process, independent media, civil society, judicial framework and independence will, now that the new dictatorship is being installed, know no bounds. We must also remember that dictatorships and despotism are built, not only by dint of naked force, but also by corruption and bribery. Farmaaja's nepotism and profiteering will therefore know no bounds now.

Let's remember this is day twelve of the illegal takeover of the FGS by Mr. Farmaajo whose term ended a mere twelve days ago. In the political science jargon, this is called an 'incumbent takeover'. An incumbent takeover occurs when an elected leader undermines key tenets of democracy, most often by abolishing or manipulating elections. In history, the collapse of the Weimar Republic under Adolf Hitler's chancellorship is a prominent instance of an incumbent takeover.

What happens next? Well, it is early days yet but the group that has initiated the new dictatorship, primarily Farmaajo, Fahad and their close friends, will now have to swiftly think about concentrating great powers in their hands at the expense of the other members of the new dictatorial elite (i.e., PM Rooble, his Ministers, and Commanders) to guarantee the survival of their illegal regime.3 If the new dictator can monopolize decision-making in his regime, he can continue to cause much of the same erratic, warlike behaviour that he has been causing to the people of Mogadishu over the past many years, and also continue to undermine and disturb the fragile peace in the rest of Somalia as he has already been doing in Jubbaland.

But dictators also disturb the rest of the world. According to classical literature on dictatorships, all international wars since the end of World War ONE have involved dictatorships. Two- thirds of civil wars and ethnic conflicts since World War II have erupted in countries under a dictatorship. Since the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, dictatorships have perpetrated nearly 85 percent of mass killings by governments.

If we have to relate this to the Somali experience, it puts into context both our deadliest war with Ethiopia which took place under Siyad Barre's dictatorship, and what happened in Somaliland against the Isaaq people in the 1980s and, to a lesser degree, in Mudug against the Majeerteen after the failed coup of 1978.

Over the past 12 months, like many others, I have been calling on Somali political leaders and our international partners to prevent the recurrence of conflict in our country in the hands of Mr. Farmaajo. I was basing my assessment on Mr. Farmaaja's active hostility to the constitutional framework of the FGS and the broad direction of the peace and state-building process. The deadly political violence his forces visited on the former Presidents' hotel last night which caused multiple deaths and destruction vindicated my predictions about Farmaaja's intentions, motivations, and commitment to the creation of a new version of the late dictator's toppled clan dictatorship.

All new dictators will have to define the new regime and encode the authoritarian rule book for their colleagues in the seizure group. By seizure group, I mean the group that is supporting Farmaajo to seize power illegally. It doesn't matter whether they are civilians or uniformed. The group will have to oust those who don't see eye to eye with them on the question of the autocratic seizure of power's ad infinitum power grab. They will have to attend to the unfinished business from before the seizure of power and will have to also think about post-seizure organization to avoid being toppled by their enemies.  

The dictator-cum-leader will have to figure out how power concentration and seizure group factionalism chimes in or contradicts his primary objective on personalization of power. He will have to figure out how the bargaining over the distribution of resources and power will affect the seizure group dynamics and the decision-making behaviour of its members.

The new dictator will have to come up with survival strategies in Somalia's extremely challenging conditions. The idea was, as it looks now from where we stand, to have factionalized (clan-based) armed supporters within the SNA, and the strategic creation of new political actors from among the crooked and feeble-minded type of people in Mogadishu to counterbalance the growing intellectual and political class in the 'upper crust' of society.

In order to implement the dictatorship, the regime will have to engage citizens and start information gathering about threats, primarily internal but also external, to oust the dictator. This is where it gets ever more complicated because Mr. Farmaajo knows (or should know) that the overwhelming majority of the Somali people, and those in Mogadishu in particular, will not tolerate a new dictator in the image and ancestry of Siyad Barre, the late dictator.  

Thus, emotionally shaken and paranoid about the possibility of being ousted through popular uprising from the protests called by the opposition (like his relative, the late dictator), and hearing and seeing everywhere undefined threats to his survival from the city and people who hosted him over the past four years, he desperately sought to reinforce his grip on power by attacking the hotel where the opposition leaders were staying in the dead of the night.

The new dictatorial regime faces an information problem! How does the regime identify disloyal people (who are not happy with Farmaaja's usurpation of power) from the population in this vast city when these individuals have a strong incentive to conceal their true loyalties?4 Given the heightened sense of threat and the high level of uncertainty, Mr. Farmaajo felt last night that there was little room for error.

One information shortcut among many that the late dictatorial ruler in Somalia always fell back on was clan identity. Suspecting that some of his supporters, including even those in the SNA, are sympathetic to the opposition political objectives and may have been collaborating in their bid for credible elections, it has been suggested that Mr. Farmaajo took a leaf out of the late dictator's rule book in order to nullify the risk of letting the opposition holding their protest which might lead to popular unrest against his dictatorial seizure of power.

 Accordingly, it has been suggested that Mr. Farmaajo utilized five officers from his clan for the operation to launch a military assault on Hotel Maa'idah which is where the opposition leaders were staying. Therefore, for Farmaajo, like his hero - the late dictator, clan exclusion served as an expedient mechanism to eradicate perceived enemies at a time of high uncertainty and when the ruler has already completed his term time but is overstaying as an unwelcome guest in Villa Somalia. 

Who said this: "We cannot expect people to have respect for law and order until we teach respect to those we have entrusted to enforce those laws." It is from Well, Mr. Farmaajo has no respect for anyone but himself. The sooner we get rid of him, the better.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for my next article about what we can and ought to do for ourselves to get rid of the new wannabe dictator, Mr. Farmaajo.


1. Sharp, Gene (2010) From Dictatorship to Democracy A Conceptual Framework for Liberation. Fourth U.S. Edition. The Albert Einstein Institution.

2. Farmaaja's hawkishness and militarism paints a man whose norms and ethics of militarism and intoxication with bombastic and militaristic pseudo-nationalism, the bitter fruits of which we have reaped before, might bring the whole house down on top of everyone. 

3. See Geddes, Barbara et al., (2018) How Dictatorships Work: Power, Personalization and Collapse. Cambridge University Press.

4. See ROESSLER, PHILIP, (2011) THE ENEMY WITHIN Personal Rule, Coups, and Civil War in Africa. World Politics 63, no. 2, 300-346, Copyright © 2011 Trustees of Princeton University doi: 10.1017/S0043887111000049, viewed 15 Feb. 2021, <Roessler.pdf>.  

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