11, Oct. 2004
PRESIDENTS-IN-WAITING - A GOVERNMENT BY THE WARLORDS FOR
M. M. Afrah
were too deeply entangled in their own past, caught in the web
they had spun themselves, according to the laws of their own
twisted ethics and twisted logic; they were all guilty,
although not of the deeds of which they accused themselves.
There was no way back for them.”
Arthur Koestler.Darkness at Noon
take a hero to send people to war.”
(retired) Norman Shwarzkopf.
In today’s Somali politics there’s
lots of stones left to turn over and see what crawls out. For
a starter, none of us can gauge what are the intentions of
those who lost the recent acrimonious presidential race, which
the great Somali cartoonist, Amin Amir depicted in his latest
cartoon, showing four men (no woman) each trying vigorously to
possess the seat of power at Villa Somalia, the old
Presidential Palace (now in ruins).
tug-of-war demonstrates the old petty politicians’ disease
that makes them ravenous with a desire to be inside the
nucleus of power, or better still to become a president of a
country they had helped to destroy.
“Once you get
to the top office you’re hooked, you’re infected. You relish
the secret exercise of power, out of the daylight, away from
public scrutiny, that’s inside the Presidential Palace flanked
by your yes-men. Remember General Barre during the dying days
of his autocratic rule?” a long time observer of Presidential
elections in Africa told me the other day.
He cited men
like Dr. Hastings Banda. Mobuto Sese Kuku, Charles Taylor,
Robert Mugabe, Sani Abache as an example.
that even after the election of a new president a bunch of
losers and war criminals will be just waiting in the wings to
reclaim what they perceive is rightly theirs. They will not
shake hands with the winner and give up their power without a
fight. In a more politically mature society, the losers shake
hands with the winner, a dry handclasp and a plastic smile,
and nurse their grudges privately as soon as they’re out of
the limelight again. Al Gore is a case in point others were
rewarded with lucrative employment in the private sectors.
In Somalia the
struggle for power is like tinderbox. A very good example is
the track record of the warlords, relics of General Barre’s
heydays. Almost as soon as they signed a peace accord all the
warlords that solemnly laid their hands on the Holy Quran and
renounced (forsworn is the appropriate word) clan warfare
began to rearm themselves in order to take up the fight where
they had left off.
mobilized their drug-crazed militia in a bid to resettle an
old score against their foe across the killing field,
otherwise known as the Green Line while they lived in highly
guarded fortified luxury villas. Hence, General Shwarzkopf’s
line that it doesn’t take a hero to send people to war.
elected speaker of the fledging federal parliament has pledged
there will be no vote shenanigans with people with money in
backroom deals. Also, the transparent ballot boxes already
sent strong message to those who have a tendency to stuff
ballot boxes long before the voting even started.
liberty groups and civil rights organizations have been
virtually mute about the registration fees, which only people
with money could afford to cough up. Only few individuals have
protested about the so-called registration fees, but did not
mount any sustained lobbying to get the discriminatory voting
laws be scrapped.
One of the
opponents of the registration fee spewed venom over the
subject and said: “IGADD is running roughshod over little
people with no money to burn.”
When the news
came in for the election of a military strongman, I sat very
still in front of my computer, trying to think of some
intelligent thing to write about the Colonel. But for the
moment words fail me.
However, it is
difficult what to expect from a man who banned political
parties in Puntland, who refused to relinquish power after his
three year term expired and Jama Ali Jama was elected by the
Council of Elders to replace him. News agencies report that
the Colonel seized power with the help of the Ethiopians,
claiming he was fighting terrorism. Let’s hope that the
colonel fights homegrown terrorists, locally known as
Mooryaans. Only then, we would give him our full support.
journey begins now, Mr. President.
As we went to
the press, the people of Puntland were celebrating on the
election of Col. Abdulahi Yusuf but there are mixed feelings
in Mogadishu - the capital.