Somalia’s President Farmajo remains popular

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Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo (centre) with his predecessors Sharif Sheikh Ahmed (right) and Hassan Sheikh Mohamud during his inauguration ceremony in Mogadishu, Somalia on February 22, 2017. President Farmajo marks one year in office this month. PHOTO | PSCU

Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi “Farmajo” will mark his one year in office on February 8, celebrating a few successes that eluded his predecessor.

Unlike his predecessor, President Farmajo has remained popular across clans, with observers saying having a prime minister for over 10 months is good for the continuity of government.

Sakariye Cismaan, a writer and political analyst based in Cadaado, Galmudug in Somalia, told The EastAfrican that the ongoing negotiations with the International Monetary Fund to secure debt relief for the country’s $5.3 billion external debt would be a major achievement for the president.

“His popularity, although briefly dented by the rendition of a Somali national to Ethiopia where he was wanted for terrorism charges, has not diminished. On the contrary it has increased as seen in his 16-day ‘peace trip’ to towns in Puntland and Galmudug states,” said Mr Cismaan.

President Farmajo has made progress in breaking the Galmudug deadlock after Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama, based in Dhusomareb, made concessions to work with Mogadishu.

He has also made efforts to reduce corruption, which was one of his main campaign slogans. He eliminated ghost workers and reduced wastage in the finance ministry.

However, Liban Ahmad, a political commentator, said corruption will remain a major challenge until the country starts employing on merit rather than for regional balance. The unemployment rate for those aged 14 to 29 is at 67 per cent.

Another major challenge for the president is getting donors and development partners to honour their pledges. During the Somalia International Conference in London in May last year, world leaders pledged $1.3 billion to support the new government and its security and economic reforms.

He has to convince the international community to pump in more funds and investments that would enable Somalia to tackle challenges of insecurity, economic growth, corruption, constitutional reforms and strengthening regional federal states.

According to Mr Cismaan, apart from Turkey, which has implemented projects like building roads, hospitals, a new terminal at Aden Abdulle Airport and improving the Mogadishu Seaport, other development partners who made pledges at the London conference have been slow to deliver.

The European Union — the biggest donor for Somalia — pledged to invest $1.03 billion this year, which will bring total support to $4.5 billion until 2020.

This includes support for the African Union Mission for Somalia, salaries for police, development aid, and $596 million for humanitarian assistance to tackle the devastating effects of the drought.

The United Kingdom pledged $27 million to be spent over the next two years to be spent training and mentoring the country’s army and improving security.

President Farmajo’s grand “National Security Architecture” suffered a major blow last October when a truck bomb exploded near market in Mogadishu, killing over 500 people. It was considered the biggest terrorist attack in the country’s history.

The National Security Architecture involves creating an 18,000-strong army and a 32,000-member police force to be trained and distributed across all federal member states.

Another challenge for the president is achieving universal suffrage in 2021. The formation of federal states has gone on smoothly and the National Independent Electoral Commission is travelling across the country educating the public about the elections and preparing the local electoral commissions.

The East African

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