There are no friends in politics, Mr. Speaker – UM

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Mogadishu (UM) – UM Congratulates Mohamed Mursal Sheikh Abdirahman on his election as the new Speaker of Parliament in yesterday’s tense and dramatic election. The new Speaker replaces Mohamed Sheikh Osman Jawari who resigned after a long and bitter dispute with the Executive and their supporters in Parliament in April of this year.

The new Speaker inherits a broken, divided and administratively failing House. The Motion of No Confidence against his predecessor has further alienated some of those MPs who thought themselves honest and independent and empowered those who now feel more strongly that they can bully the government into whatever they want with the simple threat of a Motion. This is not helped by the fact that most opposition MPs are convinced that the new Speaker is a puppet for the President and Prime Minister who seek to use him and his office to achieve their legislative and wider political objectives.

Mr. Mursal is an experienced political operative who has served as an Ambassador to Turkey and the Minister of Defence until his election yesterday. He is an elected MP from South West State and clearly won yesterday’s election with a strong majority. Now, Speaker Mursal must prepare for the political challenge of his life in one of the most hostile and unpredictable environments possible.

Speaker Jawaari must serve as a living lesson in loyalty and friendship in Somali Politics for the new Speaker. Before the paranoia led dispute with the Prime Minister, Speaker Jawaari, the President and Prime Minister were all friends. Soon, the laughter and regular lunches turned into a political contest which brought about Speaker Mursal’s promotion and Jawaari’s demise. Now, the new Speaker has 3 years to make a mark on Parliament before proposed elections take place and he can only do it if he is smart, independent and fair.

The role of the Speaker of Parliament is to manage Parliamentary proceedings effectively and fairly, ensure rules are observed by all Members and represent the Parliament both at home and in international forums. The Speaker is the heart and face of Parliament and its chief administrator. He is the servant of the House and People of Somalia. He is not Parliament and not in this position to advance individual political causes for anybody, including the Executive.

Speaker Mursal is a mild mannered, reliable old hand who understands Somali politics well. He needs to employ all this experience and knowledge to do his job well. The new Speaker must be a friend to all and enemy to none to achieve the ambitious legislative agenda for reforming Somalia. He must not be tempted to join the destabilising forces on both sides of the political divide. Otherwise, he must prepare for more wasted years, divided politics and potentially, to be replaced himself before the end of his tenure.

Welcome and good luck, Honourable Speaker.

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