That presidential aspirants have a role to play is a truism. Getting beyond truisms means answering more important questions: how can we ensure that the elections are truly transformative; that the process is free, fair and transparent so that electors will choose their MPs, and MPs choose the President who (together with the MPs themselves) will govern the country for the next four years.
President Farmaajo has been of the view, from the get go, for reasons only known to him, that if at all elections were to be held, they should deliver continuity (meaning continuity of himself in power) rather than change. That much was said by himself and his supporters. We can therefore understand why such a vain and egocentric behaviour would be utterly incompatible with trust. As they say, everyday life is a catalogue of success in the exercise of trust. Our dealings with anyone, friend or foe, depend on it. Without trust, progress in this process would be impossible.
Therefore, it is right for presidential aspirants to continue with their pressure campaign to bring the government of President Farmaajo to accept that only through a genuine electoral process, based on the revised electoral model of 17 September between the FGS and FMSs, shall we be able to settle the question of who shall have the legitimacy to govern our country in the name of the Somali people and in their interests, come 9th February 2021. Genuine electoral process means honouring previous commitments. The process must also be based on consensus, meaning decisions are reached in unity, in a spirit that is free from manipulation or control in an unfair manner to the advantage of a particular leader.
But Presidential campaigns also have their serious sides - the right to publicly and legitimately debunk the policies and actions of the incumbent which is central to the existence of free and fair elections. I will take the liberty here to list several of the most important lines of attack against Mr. Farmaajo's record of the past nearly four years. The government of President Farmaajo (1) failed to deliver credible leadership to foster a sense of common national purpose; (2) endlessly violated the Provisional Constitution of the FRS; (3) emasculated parliament through incorporation, bribery, corruption, and intimidation; (4) there were no checks and balances on power-holders and no one held the government to account for decisions made and actions taken; (5) it failed to come up with actions and initiatives that signal new beginnings to build trust in an inclusive way across society; (6) it failed to build legitimacy by connecting the government and the governed, and by exercising political power to enforce the rule of law, in the pursuit of justice; and (7) it completely undermined the obligations that form the basis for state-society relations, such as rights and protections, and freedom and justice.
Presidential campaigns also address the pressing issues and challenges which the country faces, and hence provide a great opportunity to educate and elevate the people. Here's a list of questions on the way ahead: How can we build a government that is subject to checks and balances and works for our national purpose? How can we build a capable national security infrastructure, including SSR (security sector reforms) that can guarantee the freedom of movement of people and goods across the country? How can we implement across our country the very important work of the DDR (Dis-armament, Demobilization and Re-integration) programmes? Why has our government failed in the struggle against al-Shabaab terrorism in the past many years? How can
we best confront al-Shabaab terrorism in Somalia? Why can we not confront al-Shabaab terrorism through police work and law enforcement rather than relying solely on military action? How are we going to address the extreme poverty, the millions of IDPs, and the catastrophic environmental destruction which are all inter-linked? How can we provide schooling for 3 million out-of-school children? How can we provide education and training for adult young men and women who have never been to school? How can we create huge numbers of jobs for young people across the country? How can we secure sufficient financial and technical resources to implement our own programmes? How can we build effective institutions to support the private economy? How can we provide services (i.e., access to healthcare, education, and social protection) to people in the countryside and the urban poor? How can we invest in urban infrastructure for energy and connectivity? These are just some of the issues that we urgently need to face down if we are to overcome the serious insecurity and extreme poverty anytime soon. I shall address in my next article this question: Why should Mr. Farmaajo not be returned to power?