Somalia’s Mohamed Farmaajo, whose term expired on February 8, continues to ignore the writings on the wall. And as things go, there may be a small window left to rescue both his career and the destiny of Somalia.
On Tuesday, the latest ominous sign came from a grouping of Hawiye clan members and professionals. Gathering in Mogadishu, they withdrew support for Farmaajo, expressing fury at his decisions to assent to the term extension motion of parliament.
A voice emerged from 400 delegates of Mogadishu’s most prominent clan with interests in politics and businesses which means they have sufficient influence in the capital. The participants include two ex-Presidents, a former PM, opposition and youth leaders as well as other special interest groups.
Well, some have argued perhaps correctly that the clan as a unit of politics in Somalia may be behind the perennial chaos.
But Somalia’s nascent democracy borrows from its culture and history, which means that every son and daughter the clans have brought up to serve their country considers their class as the basic politics. It is the way Somalis have organized themselves for centuries and it is why we cannot throw away the bathwater with the baby.
This is why the clan, no matter its shortcomings in other times, will remain influential in Somali politics and any leader who ignores it perishes politically. For the Hawiye specifically, their influence in Mogadishu means that any changes in the political stability of the country affect them directly and their influence in Mogadishu means that ay changes in the political stability of the country affect them directly and their displeasure simply means one bigger door has been slammed in Farmaajo’s face.
There have been other protestants more directly from Farmaajo’s rival in the presidential contest. This week the National Salvation Forum warned of political instability as the term extension goes on. And Presidents of Galmudung, Hirshabelle And South West have recently come under pressure from their own clans to clarify their positions. The donors and partners have all rejected the extensions and warned of a reevaluation of the relationship, including suspension of crucial programs in security and humanitarian sectors.
Yet even in the glare of these warnings, President Farmaajo has chosen to go on a charm offensive seeking the African Union’s hand to endorse his ill-thought and controversial term extension.
He did not read between the lines when after meeting President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo, he was told that Somalia must pursue its own consensus to avert a crisis. Mr. Tshisekedi the current chairman of the African Union agreed to support dialogue in Somalia an indication that the continental body is willing to step in.
But everybody knows Farmaajo’s game plan is to get an endorsement from the AU to sanitize his political dirt. Earning from his friends in Ethiopia, Farmaajo knows he can seek the involvement of the African Union because the body itself is flawed in operation: all leaders have hidden behind Article 4(g) of the AU Constitutive Act on “non-interference in internal matters” of members.
In short, he can reduce the continental body into spectators just as the neighbors did with the Tigray region.
This is not to say the AU is a useless organization. In fact, Somalia has a lot to thank the AU for having created the AU Mission in Somalia which has been guarding Farmaajo and his palace, the Villa Somalia.
We fear that Farmaajo has shown sufficient hypocrisy in the past. On one day he insists on sovereignty when critics pour in while on the other hand when he is facing local turmoil he rushes to the AU for help.
The flip-flopping is meant to waste time and the best thing Farmaajo can do is to resume talks which will be the surest way to ending this fiasco.