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15, Oct. 2004
M. M. Afrah

The good news from Mogadishu is that the price of guns has halved for the first time in more than a decade. This, according to Reuters news dispatch from Mogadishu, is due to the election of Colonel Abdullahi Yusuf as president of the transitional federal government of Somalia. Not a bad deal under the circumstances. After more than a decade of lawlessness, bloodshed and anarchy the people needed an authoritarian career military-man.

You see, I have healthy suspicion of military rule. It takes years for the pain and misery for the pain of military dictatorship to fade, and, as with most things in life, you're living with the bad memories.

No offense is intended.

It's too early to measure what his performances, as a president of a country in turmoil would look like. One man who knows the Colonel intimately (we were only nodding friends) says he runs his tight enclave, Puntland, with military style discipline. He dresses sharply, is thoroughly professional in all aspects, and maintains regular work schedule. He expects nothing less from his ministers and staff. No beards or moustaches in his milieu.

Soon after General Barre was ousted the idea of electing another military officer would have been unthinkable, even laughable, and yet, here we have another soldier/politician at the helm again. The capital is buzzing over the Colonel's election and he knows he would soon inherit a docket that's begging for a quick action.

His main problem is Mogadishu where an estimated 60,000 militia gunmen and freelance gang of robbers and kidnappers are waiting in the wings for a repeat performances after Abdiqassim was elected at Arte. Evidently, the same thugs will be after him. But his supporters compare notes about the Colonel's no-nonsense performances in Puntland, and unlike Abdiqassim will prevail. But this is not Puntland, where everybody knows everybody.

I hate to rehash what I wrote years ago on this website, but since it's vital under the present circumstances, I'm recycling it for the benefit of those who had missed it.

Suffice to say, some of the problems to tackle include:
1 food and clean drinking water and health care;
2 shelter for the displaced, dispossessed and disabled;
3 a workable design for national reconciliation and cessation of all hostilities, verbal, physical or otherwise;
4 rehabilitate the thousands of drug-addicted child soldiers in the capital, and
5.respect for human rights and press freedom.


Apart from being drug-addicted, the huge arsenal in the hands of these youngsters is a recipe for stiff resistance and more bloodshed. If the new government does not come up with resettlement and employment program for these now-armed youngsters it will fail in its cleaning up program. The question that naturally comes up is: who is going to foot the bill?

It is amusing to see these gun-boys and their masters cowering in fear en mass, and not only selling their guns at rock-bottom prices, but sit and wait for hours and days to see what would befall on them as well as their bleak future.

Admittedly, it will be impossible for any new government to absorb the young militia boys, as the majority have no skills of their own and are numerically too many to accommodate in a new national army. Perhaps the newly elected President, who said he is a man of peace during the swearing-in ceremony, should put our begging bowl in front of the international community. I am sure no one will flinch or raise an eyebrow because we are among some of the world's greatest panhandlers.

We can no longer trust leaders whose only claim to the position they occupy is the ability to keep their respective clan elders grinning, well satisfied on national loot and flooding the country with trillions of counterfeit currencies.

Since Colonel Abdullahi is the man of the hour these last few days (his photo appears almost every day in the Western media), I can predict precisely what's about to happen to the clones with guns in the streets of the capital. It will be ugly. I won't have much to say on this score at the moment.

However, it is time to stop nitpicking and give the Colonel a break and see what happens.

By M.M. Afrah©2004 .


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By Amiin Amir By Amiin Amir

The Centre for Research & Dialogue (CRD)
The Somali-Canadian Working Group for New Generation
Midaynta Association of Somali Service Agencies - Toronto

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