Mogadishu (UM) – As Turkey goes to the polls to elect a new President today, many in Somalia are backing the incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdogan to win. UM interviews in the last few days clearly spell out the Somali people’s loyalty to a President they feel has transformed their hopes for development.
“Before President Erdogan first came to Somalia in 2011, even the Diaspora did not want to come back,” said Ahmed Ali a salesman. “Who can forget President Erdogan visiting a refugee camp in Mogadishu and kissing an internally displaced child with President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed watching? Erdogan is a hero here.”
Many interviewed felt strongly that this visit in 2011 by President Erdogan opened the door for other donors to follow.
“Turkish support came to Somalia because of President Erdogans orders and all the Turkish companies, including the Airline, are operating in Somalia with his support” said a Foreign Ministry official who did not want to be named. “Turkish success in Somalia in large parts is down to President Erdogan that is why Somalia must support him.”
“Other countries help Somalia but not directly unlike Turkey and although some other countries give more money for Somalia, it is spent inside Halane on big salaries, overheads and danger pay by international organisations,” said Mohamed Abdi, a university lecturer.
All interviewed felt that the Western world was unnecessarily pressuring President Erdogan because of his success at home. All agreed that Turkey is better for Somalia and Africa with him as leader.
“Turkey is a great example of development in a Muslim country despite external pressure from Western countries. I think Somalia has alot to learn from Turkey,” said Abdi Muhumad. “President Erdogan has delivered a miracle for Turkey and has focused investment in Africa. We must be happy with this.”
While there was overwhelming support for President Erdogan Somalia, most interviewed felt that Somalia has failed to benefit fully from Turkish support due to institutional weaknesses and disorganization. With the Turkish economy slowing down, some fear this may impact on Turkeys support for Somalia. In any case, all interviewees expressed their gratitude to President Erdogan for putting Somalia back on the map and in the international community minds.