EDITORIAL: Farmaajo’s ‘no precondition’ terms, a false start


EDITORIAL | President Mohamed Farmaajo has finally backed down from his controversial two-year term extension. But you shouldn’t be celebrating yet.

He told the audience in a late-night speech that he was returning to the table to negotiate a deal for indirect elections which he argued, falsely, that he always wanted.

Then he said there should be no preconditions for the talks. Farmaajo, whose term expired on February 8, knows that one of the conditions required of him now is to enter these talks as an ordinary candidate. It is only by lowering himself to the level of competitors that we can be assured these talks will not collapse again.

Ever since he ran into the transition period, banking on a parliamentary motion that delayed the departure of incumbents, Farmaajo has run the show with his iron fist. He has set up his army on opposition leaders, his spies have beat up officials at the airport, and slung mud at international partners.

Then he manipulated the Lower House to pass a controversial two-year extension which he promptly signed, in spite of protests across the country. For showing such a detachment from reality, Farmaajo must attend these talks with conditions placed on his head.

First, he must promise that he will stick to the issues around the September 17 Agreement. He must state what role in financing the federal government will have on elections. He must be ready to renegotiate the composition of electoral management bodies and must allow stakeholders to present their [contrary] views.

Negotiations start simply because parties are holding contrary views. If Farmaajo is going to be authentic about that, he can surely not claim talks can continue without preconditions. There are already lessons in that. On previous occasions, Farmaajo left meetings in a huff, accused partners of manipulation by foreign entities, and stalled any progress.

Of course, his propaganda machines worked overnight, lay blame on the opposition, and presented him as a saint. Yet everyone knows he has often worked for his interest, not the countries. He promised universal suffrage and failed. He turned to it only because it could give him time in Villa Somalia not because he genuinely believed Somalia can pull off this under Somalia’s current financial and security situation.

He promised to end the al-Shabaab menace. He failed. Instead, his administration allowed the militants to thrive by infiltrating government institutions. What is more? He has had the worst relationship with federal states, something that has made it harder for the agencies to cooperate on national issues such as economy and security.

Farmaajo is returning to the table simply because he has run out of options. Doors were being shut everywhere and this gave him some respite. But resuming talks without clothing him in his colors would be naïve. If the country is ever going to move forward and hold polls based on an existing national and acceptable agreement, Farmaajo must attend without any horns.

Federal states saved the country from his manipulation. Federal states must take control of these talks. Farmaajo comes with no honor, having abused the trust bequeathed to him.  Only with conditions placed on his presence will we move forward without looking over our shoulders.


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