Mogadishu (UM) – The Somali opposition has always been unique in their outlook on how to influence the political process. Their simple strategy was always the same: wait until the government is weak enough to bring a Motion of No Confidence then if successful demand Cabinet seats. This is what has led to the Somali public truly despising the opposition and not understanding their value. Somali politics is selfish and personality driven and while the opposition figures were selfish, there have not been any popular personalities to lead them. So they remain disorganised, unpopular and without a real alternative message.
This week the Union for Peace and Democracy Party (UPD Party), one of the first opposition Party’s to form, announced that it elected the former president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as the acting Party Chairman until all the key Party positions are filled in March of next year during their general assembly. To show their organisation, they announced this message on their new twitter account and the website is apparently on the way. The UPD Party is a mixture of different opposition Party’s which have merged but the leading figures are very familiar to the Somali people. This is because some of them served in the last administration or are members of the existing opposition which has engaged in nasty disputes with the government of President Farmaajo especially during the unseating of the former parliamentary speaker Jawaari.
The opposition in any government serves the noble task of holding the government to account and offering a different vision for national progress. The leaders of the opposition are potential future national leaders and as such work hard to impress upon the public the importance of the difference between themselves and the government of the day through actual policies and laws. The opposition are also united by common beliefs and ideas that they want to translate into policies to contribute to the development of their nations. In every sense, they are a government in waiting.
In Somalia, the opposition have always been disorganised, personality-driven and disappointing. The 4.5 system also compounds this sense of failure with the face of the opposition been often those from the dominant clans. Often, the opposition are also those that lost power and are bitter so offer no real solutions to the challenges of government. To date, there is no single Somali opposition which has a clear policy on security, economic development and public services. It is obvious that the opposition, like those before them, are united to bring down this current government without offering an alternative vision for the betterment of Somalia.
The Somali opposition has time on its side and do not have the burden of governing. An effective opposition would use this luxury time to think and put together meaningful policy alternatives to position themselves as a credible future government waiting in the wings. But the current state of the disgruntled Somali opposition full of old tired faces with reputational challenges does not inspire. The Somali opposition must bring in new ideas and policy alternatives which can attract public confidence and support. This no doubt will also be a daunting challenge for the incumbent government.
The Somali Government must welcome the opposition to the expanding political space and raise its own game to democratically contest with them. The Somali people deserve their best and most talented that they choose to lead them and both the government and opposition must fight for the honour to lead them. Now, the most important question is, will there be one-person one-vote in the next election?