As an objective observer from London, UK I can see and sense the Somali Government is facing a monumental crisis over the transfer of Abdikariim Sheikh Muuse to Ethiopia. However the decision was made, what is clear is that the processes and the nature of the decision was a monumental error of political judgement.
Whatever the motives for his transfer, what is also clear to the public is that the Ogaden struggle for freedom is a politically sensitive in the psyche of our Somali speaking citizens across Somalia. He represents a historical sovereignty claim, which culminated into war between Somalia and Ethiopia. It is in this context people are sensitive and outraged about this issue. The ONLF struggle represents a wider historical foreign policy issues that has yet to be resolved/reconciled between Somalia, Ethiopia and the people of Ogaden. The result of our past and current tumultuous experience does not mean we ought to abandon our historical sovereignty claims. Our nation will rise again and seek appropriate resolution to this outstanding sovereignty issue.
In summary, those who made the decisions have misjudged the mood of the public, failed to consider our historical unresolved sovereignty and the cost of the struggle from Somalia’s recent history with Ethiopia. Furthermore, as a recovering nation they have failed to promote the rule of law and undermined our justice system by abducting a Somali citizen without due legal process, undermining public confidence and acting as warlords in a lawless country. It is worth remembering we have come so far from the effects of war and lawlessness. For us to unwittingly or willfully spoil the progress that is being made is an act of negligence and one of grave error that warrants accountability and leadership.
The timing of transfer on the eve of blessed Eidul Adha and the legal processes involved or lack of it has a policy lessons for Government. These are policy lessons the Government can review and correct in the long run.
However, I cannot stress what is at stake here. The political narrative of Dadka, Dalka and Danta of HE President’s Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo’s election victory of Wadaninimo, rekindling of Somali international and national dignity will be damaged by the incident. Once a leader or a Government loses its political narrative, it will begin its slippery slope for failures and loss of credibility among the public mindset and political supporters.
Under this context, a decisive leadership action is required urgently on many fronts. I do not yet know the processes of the decision making and who was involved. However, I would like to provide urgent advisory and actionable measures to the President and Prime Minister:
When a crisis engulfs a Government the first and foremost priority of Government is accountability and ownership. In this context, the following steps should be considered very seriously and rigorously:
- To hold the security Officials and Ministers involved in the transfer of Abdikariim Sheikh Muuse accountable to restore confidence in Government.
- If the decision also involves the President and the Prime Minister, the Government should urgently dispatch its Foreign Minister to Kenya and Ethiopia to revive the comprehensive Peace Plan between Ethiopia and ONLF, which is currently being mediated by the Kenya Government. SFG should negotiate with Kenyan Government to revive the peace process initiative with Somali Government taken urgent caretaker role while Kenya is concluding its national elections – with Abdikariim Sheikh taking a centre stage not as a prisoner but as a political entity. How SFG approaches ONLF also requires careful articulation of policy and wisdom at this sensitive period.
- The creation of Policy Unit within Villa Somalia to serve as a policy planning nerve centre for articulating and implementing policies across Government. Within the functions of Government, Somalia is not yet ready for decentralisation of policy decision-making in Government on Security, Political direction/vision and Economy. No serving civil servant or Minister should be left alone in devising and implementing policy initiative or action that has direct impact to the Presidency and political direction of Government. It is my view these steps should be taken urgently separately or in parallel to contain the public anger and repair the damage that has been caused by the decision involving the transfer of Abdikareem Sheikh.
In conclusion, mistakes can be corrected but they should not be utilised to undermine Government and our sense of mutual responsibility to each other. Through social media I have seen many people are rightly outraged by the incident. However, I warn those who seek to undermine the Government for opportunistic purposes and are using this incident as a political football to settle political and personal scores. This will ultimately undermine their own credibility and history will not be kind to them. Somalia has had enough of setbacks and the politics of zero sum game, it’s high time for us to move together as one while the authority deals with this contentious incident.
Mohamed Ibrahim (BA, MSc London School of Economics & Political Science LSE) is a London, UK, Social Activist/ keen Author – he can be reached via:
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Ummadda Media