EDITORIAL: Building Coalitions, a good start for better politics in Somalia
EDITORIAL | Somalia’s key stakeholders to the upcoming elections have inched closer to a working partnership after launching yet another coalition group on Thursday.
The National Salvation Council which brings together the Council of Presidential Candidates, President Said Abdullahi Deni of Puntland, and Ahmed Madobe of Jubbaland will be a caucus of nearly 20 political leaders.
Led by former President Sheikh Sharif, the group said on Thursday they intend to work together to ensure a smooth, free and fair election, and save the country from falling back into chaos.
Expectedly, there were two forms of reactions to the launch. One group feels the group is trying to find the best person to bell the cat in President Farmajo, rather than seek to serve the public. The other side sees the group as a building block for a mature democracy.
We agree with the second lot. We think forming coalitions is one way Somalia can beat the constant nag of clan politics. We also movements such as the NSC are crucial in bridging divides between rivals. In other countries across Africa, coalitions have enabled the wide and inclusive participation of communities.
It is true that coalition politics, in the case of Somalia may be a mirage. But every country in which mature democracy today started somewhere. The first step for Somalia to steady its politics and have some sense of certainty lies with how political leaders can reach out to one another.
Of course, we are cautious about politicians coalescing only because they have a common enemy. The new Alliance also has some weaknesses in grouping up aspirants rather than political parties, which can give stronger partnerships. But the very idea of the Council also ensures that groups can select their best contenders to take part in elections, leaving behind joyriders and also-rans.
We hope that the government of President Farmajo, instead of trying to sabotage these groups, allows them to enjoy the freedoms necessary to improve the political environment.
It is our hope that the National Salvation Council and other caucuses enjoy the liberty to reach out to more partners without being restricted.
But we must not get carried away by mere coalition formations. Each of these groups must work towards a solution, not just to undercut opponents.
The elephant in the room remains on whether the federal government and federal member states will agree on a workable electoral deal soon enough to save the country from anxiety.
Since the pandemic season began last year in March; Somalia has been pressed by locust invasion, waves of Covid-19 infections, drought, and increasing attacks by al-Shabaab on unarmed sites.
Under such conditions, the country’s top leaders can do great service by ironing out the differences that have existed and which have made holding elections difficult.
The challenge now is in Farmajo's hands, after overstaying in office by more than six weeks to ensure Somalis have certain dates on elections. He won’t get that unless he speaks with federal member states in a conducive environment. He will also have to listen to views from other crucial stakeholders.