The Duo-Sharifs Dancing on the Volcano
Sunday, March 27, 2011
“There is logic to this game of “arm-twisting” that the two Sharifs started. Both strongly believe that the MPs are in their pocket … Both are singing and dancing with a foreign beat, choreographed for the upcoming election.”
President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed rejected Thursday (March 24, 2011) all standpoints held by the Speaker of the Parliament Sharif Hassan, as well as the attitudes that some members of the parliament pronounced in the recent days.
The President said that it is not legitimate for the current parliament to hold elections in the country. He emphasized that “The election of the president will be held only after parliament term ends and new parliament formed and subsequently elects new speaker and deputies”.
President Sheikh Sharif qualified as unacceptable the decision of the Somali lawmakers to add three years more to their term. The decision was reached when 435 lawmakers participated in the proposed motion of demanding an extension in which 421 voted in favour, 11 against and three abstained. For the majority of the Somalis, the proposal of the present convocation of Somali parliament to be prolonged for another three years is not acceptable since it is in contradiction with the spirit of the Transitional Charter and the consensus reached by the donors”.
The frisky announcements made by President Sheikh Sharif and Speaker Sharif last week were not made on behalf of the TFG and most certainly not on behalf of the Somalis in general. Both Sharifs are singing and dancing with a foreign beat, choreographed for the upcoming election. Their maneuver has a single chain and they want to drag Somalis where they do not intend to become involved. Both are moving recklessly, trying to topple one another.
This unnecessary squabble between the two Sharifs has also turned into a multi-faceted power game among the lawmakers, increasingly showing their interest in the new show-down and attempting to step up their scheme of shaking up the presidential candidates for gain.
Asked why he remained so calm, an MP told Roobdoon Forum privately last Friday that he is not alarmed over the cheap game that the two Sharifs are playing, for they had agreed with foreign actors beforehand. And the goal of the game is allegedly to strengthen their position in Somali politics. He added that he knew the dirty game about the 2009 election with the fez-wearing Sharifs as winners, thanks to the “godfather” role of UNPOS on the whole election process. As for the squabble in progress, it is just an embarkation platform and prelude to the upcoming election.
There is logic to this game of “arm-twisting” that the two Sharifs started. Both strongly believe that the MPs are in their pocket and thus could carry on living in their bubble. It is now an open secret that the two Sharifs played this game to prolong their stay in power.
President Sharif and the Constitution
The vagueness of Sheikh Sharif began in February 2009, when he took the oath and said, “I swear by Allah the Almighty to perform my duty and to respect the Constitution of the Transitional Temporary Government”. According to his mentors, the United Nations and the Western donors, his main task should have been to intensify the efforts to finish the drafting of the Somali Constitution, which is Shari`ah complaint.
In February 18, 2009, the African Union Special Envoy to Somalia, Nicolas Bwakira, told the voice of America that President Sheikh Sharif has assured him the government now being formed will be secular. Nicolas Bwakira was indeed dancing on thin ice. Had he known that Sheikh Sharif was shackled and could only dance to the tune of al-Sheikhs he would have told VOA a better logical statement.
After a long one year game, no one could resist the growing fanaticism and clanism in the ranks of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (TFG). The two Sharifs openly propagated the Mogadishu-centered mentality which advocates the total eradication of the existence of regional federalism in Somalia, a minority view which is not a shared one among many clans and regions.
Apparently recanting from his oath statement, President Sheikh Sharif began to repeat the same old rhetoric as though he wanted to return to the days of clan-based Islamic Courts in Mogadishu. He became unhappy with the draft of the new constitution and tacitly began to campaign the constitution to be disapproved by the parliament. In March 2010, he then told the media that “Somalia legalized the Shari`ah laws and turned them into a constitution for which the Somali Parliament voted unanimously and which he signed”. In his next game, Sheikh Sharif blamed Premier Sharmarke for the failure to comply the Islamic Shar`iah, saying bluntly that he will rule the country using Islamic law, noting that the man-made constitution is flawed.
Dancing with Premonition Election Tunes
Since the TFG is still tainted by the never-ending wars in Mogadishu, the chances of happening a smooth presidential election in the country appears “slim”. The ineffectiveness of the TFG leadership and its misuse of power have destroyed the optimism to re-build the public institutions and other trends which symbolize the ambition for some form of a democracy and a republic.
The inept practices of the two Sharifs and their lack of patriotic sense are threatening the basis of the parliamentary system and its standards. And this threat appears of getting stronger in the upcoming August election. This is perhaps because both Sharifs have already over-used the slogan of extension, both of them desires to extend their terms according to criteria that have mostly remained unclear to the Somalis.
Roobdoon Forum condemns, in the strongest terms, the extremely inappropriate behaviour, actions and rhetoric that the two Sharifs use in addressing the public, and have turned the Transitional Federal Institutions into a company in which they act as general managers – such moves by the two Sharifs are not conducive to settling the Somali civil wars, but rather to its exacerbation.
Using some pretexts such as “the extraordinary conditions” as an excuse for an extension option will torpedo everything about the reconciliation efforts and the rebuilding the state institutions and consolidating stability, although the current mood of the United Nations Office for Somalia (UNPOS) appears to be tipping in favour of extending the president`s term.
Like the 2009 election, the upcoming presidential election will probably take place with a UNPOS controlled tempo. However, Somalis and UNPOS are now at an armed impasse since most Somalis accuse UNPOS of single-handedly controlling election processes and thus rigging its outcome. The irregularities of the 2009 presidential election provided the current recipe for the duo-Sharif dancing. And if this UNPOS-Sharifs dancing means democracy in action, then Somalia is in deep trouble.
Good Causes with Bad Mentors
For those with a long memory and an understanding of the activities of the United Nations in Somalia, the objectives of the UNPOS are familiar and yet suspicious. Somalis see that the wheels of UNPOS are still turning, as though it is fulfilling the bicycle motto of “If you stop pedaling, you fall off”. However, they can see clearly that UNPOS is pedalling slowly and backwards.
Since its formation in early 1990s, UNPOS showed a prejudice against the north-eastern regions of Somalia. Was it not a blatant bias against those regions when one Sheikh-warlord was given the authority to select 275 MPs who would be part of the election process for the new President? The 2008 Djibouti peace process clearly shows that UNPOS were seeking a government of their own choice in Mogadishu. To end the violent conflict in Somalia, UNPOS must talk to Somalia`s various clans and regional administrations that culminated in the establishment of the Somali transitional federal government (TFG) in 2004.
People who have been supporters of the ill-advised Djibouti peace conference are now facing the high-flying ambitions of the duo-Sharifs and their desire to prolong their “government in name only” TFG.
UNPOS should stop of the policy consisting merely of pressuring perceived threats and deal with the reality on the ground. Unconvinced of another strategy to instill change, UNPOS is not seriously seeking to pre-empt the growing al-Shabaab threats and clan fanaticism in Somalia. Considering the internal dynamics of the country, UNPOS should stop buying what the duo-Sharifs are offering.
From experiences through which Somalis have lived, the feebleness of the TFG toward al Shabaab and its dances with UNPOS technocrats that refuse to adopt an impartial stance toward Somali civil wars have shaped their pessimistic attitudes towards the United Nations Mission.
For the last two years, The Mujahidin Youth Movement (aka al-Shabaab) have violently opposed against the duo-Sharif Government and lost the lives of many of its youth in the confrontation with the AMISOM forces. It is their goal to overthrow the fez-wearing sheikhs. Al-Shabaab has gained a sweeping domination in the south and has also reduced the government`s territorial control to few streets in Mogadishu, making it the "Somalia`s Vatican State". Yet, the duo-Sharifs will not be ready for free and fair elections and will most certainly scrabble and cling in an attempt to stay in power, even another service from their mentor, UNPOS, will no longer be able to prevent the erosion of their power.
Currently, the UNPOS office in Nairobi is struggling to keep pace with the rate at which the TFG is crumbling, precipitated largely by the two Sharifs` dramatic axing of the whole Transitional Federal Institutions. As a mentor, UNPOS should show a sense of responsibility and spare Mogadishu from a prolonged duo-Sharif power struggle. And Roobdoon Forum says to the two Sharifs: You will face the unavoidable shock. You have lost the public relations game and will be soon left at the curb. You are now toothless and virtually all of your friends and fellow fighters deserted you. Many Somalis have already planned to jump ship and sent off you with the best wishes.
Sunday, March 27, 2011