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Somalia : Who will Farmaajo choose as a PM?

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Somalia: Who will Farmaajo choose as a PM ?

By Liban Ahmad

One of the tasks awaiting President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo is to appoint a Prime Minister capable of forming a government not controlled by the Presidency.

Farmaajo has no the independence his predecessor had when the latter appointed three successive prime ministers in 2012, 2013 and 2015. In Mogadishu, meetings were held by two major clans to lobby for the appointment of one of their politicians as a prime minister.

There is an argument that the next Prime Minister of Somalia should not hail from the same clan as the outgoing president’s.

Appointment of a Prime Minister from that clan will convey a message of leadership entitlement and is against leadership by merit, the argument goes.

Like other political arguments about leadership in Somalia, this argument is for and against meritocracy. It is costly dualism embedded in Somalis’ political discourse and conception of governance.

Two men — Ahmed Mo’allim Fiqi, former head of intelligence of the Transitional Federal Government, and Abdirahman Abdishakur, a former presidential candidate — are said to have better chances to be appointed a new Prime mMnister by the incoming president.

Fiqi shared with Kenyan government classified intelligence on Al-shabaab whereas Abdishakur signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Kenya, the source of sea border demarcation dispute between Somalia and Kenya.

If Farmaajo appoints a prime minister from Fiqi and Abdishakur’s clan, he will convey the message that he is reviving Jubba Valley Alliance that once ruled Kismayo and parts of Lower Jubba.

People in Mogadishu and many parts of Somalia welcomed the Farmaajo’s victory, but the reaction of political stakeholders in the capital has been lukewarm.

Farmaajo defeated candidates from the two clans whose political leaders separately want the incoming president to appoint a former presidential candidate from one of the two clans as a Prime Minister.

The major weakness in Farmaajo’s political armour is the absence of an advantage the outgoing President has: Mogadishu is his hometown where he made a difference as a member of the civil society.

Troops in Mogadishu are predominantly from the outgoing president’s clan. There is a feeling that the tilt in the security forces began with the appointment of Ali Mohamed Geddi as Prime Minister in 2004; it was strengthened by the two terms of presidencies under Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

Those political realities will compel the incoming president to appoint a Prime Minister acceptable to Mogadishu power-brokers.

The Traditional Council of the President’s clan led by Mohamed Hassan Haad has not recommended anyone to the post of Prime Minister.

There is another challenge awaiting the president. In his campaign speech to the federal parliament, Farmaajo criticised the outgoing president for decision-making with the National Leadership Forum.

This criticism shows Farmaajo is yearning for the centralised political decision-making whereas Hassan Sheikh Mohamud pragmatically worked with other national leaders in federal states to prepare Somalia for the presidential election by MPs and senators. Without the National Leadership Forum Somalia would not have had a new president.

The populist streak in Farmaajo’s speeches and the groundswell of popular support following his election should not predispose him to create a cult of personality.

In the incoming president’s in-tray are constitutional crises in Galmudug and Southwest states.

If Farmaajo allows himself to be guided by a clique who claim to have masterminded his victory or if he resorts to nepotism by pleasing his clansmen, his presidency will be doomed.

The appointment of a Prime Minister is the first unit of political judgement pro-change MPs and Senators will use to make sense of what is ahead of them for the coming four years under Farmaajo.

The Author of this article is libahm@icloud.com

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