Mogadishu ( UM) – The new year was welcomed by the Somali government with messages on social media and songs on national TV. Happy 2020 is the main message from everybody but how happy will 2020 be? Judging by the remaining challenges, 2020 can only be better than 2019 if a few things are done urgently.
1. Improving security is a government priority but the Ex-Control Afgooye attack on December 28 shows that terrorism is still alive in Somalia. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility but many people still feel foreigners played a major role in the terrorist attack. But, whoever was behind it and however it happened, lessons must be learnt to improve security. The reform of the security sector is slow but it is ongoing and, like the new CCTV initiative in Mogadishu, the security chiefs must bring new ideas for detecting, disrupting and apprehending the criminals an terrorist who are hurting the Somali people.
2. Achieving debt relief is the only real agenda that has been consistent with this administration. From February 2017, the Somali people were promised development after the over $5 billion USD debt is cancelled this year. Now, February 2020 is around the corner and the Somali government and people have waited patiently with severe austerity for new resources to come to Somalia. The Somali government has met all the structural benchmarks of the IMF and now international partners must forgive the debt. Debt relief will change Somalia and provide hope to the Somali people who need roads, flood defences, health facilities, infrastructure, investment and jobs.
3. Elections are the headache of Somali administrations past and present. One Man One Vote will not happen and the election Bill passed last week shows this. One Man One Vote is not needed right now but what is important is that the Galmudug and Hiirshabelle elections go well and that the dispute with Jubbaland is resolved. It is clear that Ahmed Madobe is going nowhere so it is time for a new approach.
4. The President and Prime Minister have done well to stay united despite the many opposition figures trying to disrupt the partnership. Now, they must silence the rumours that they are going in different directions because of the Prime Minister’s leadership ambitions. If the Prime Minister wants to run for president, there must be a rule that makes the contest fair without paralyzing government operations.
5. President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo has remained silent and invisible for most of 2019. This is now his style and everybody has got used to it. However, his silence and non interference in the running of the administration has created the political stability that exists today. Now, in his final year, the President must come out of the shadow and into the limelight. He is must champion the debt relief and reform acitivites. President Farmajo is still very popular and can, with little effort, once again, rekindle his strong relationship with the Somali people.
Getting through 2020 needs leadership, responsibility, patience and some clarity on the election process.