Somalia: Here is how President Mohamud can gain our trust
EDITORIAL | Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud may have won back his seat after five years in the cold. But even he may have known the honeymoon won’t last, given Somalia’s all-around problems.
For a start, his victory was already drowned by a biting drought which he admits has almost crippled entire Somalia, leaving the country at the mercy of humanitarian support.
Yet that is not the only priority. President Mohamud needs to gain public trust, evidently lost in the last regime as it stepped on every civil liberty we know. President Mohamud has a chance to correct that wrong. Can he come forward and guarantee that the media will not be harassed or attacked by trolls hired by his operatives? The last regime of Mohamed Farmaajo tortured the minds of journalists and scared them stiff, rivaling al-Shabaab militants who also attacked journalists.
Mohamud should not take that route. A scholar of national repute, Mohamud was also a civil activist long before becoming a politician. That should stand him in good stead in knowing what civil liberties are and how they help rebuild a country. Already, there is evidence of an air of freedom in Mogadishu, and even we, Garowe Online, are joining the bandwagon after we reopened our Mogadishu bureau last week. We have done this to show early confidence in the new government and hope that we will be allowed to practice journalism in the free world without being targeted for the job we do.
Of course, we must clarify from the start that we will be responsible journalists. Our kind of press freedom is where we are allowed to reflect on the issues of our society while vouching for its rebuilding. We will not incite or spread propaganda. But we hope that our adherence to the responsibilities demanded of us should be repaid with an assurance of protection.
President Mohamud already knows what running a country is like. He made some gains in his first term. But he also made mistakes. We hope those were enough lessons for his new time to be better for him and us all in Somalia.
His initial steps must therefore be those of confidence building. There were a lot of suspicions in the former regime that government officials couldn’t trust one another and several levels of government seemed to work as if they were separate countries. He must address this from early on.
One way of doing this is appointing officials who will not use their positions to settle personal beef. Those officials should be those who respect the law even when it doesn’t favor them. Secondly, he must embark on legal reviews to make it easier to govern. Gaps in our laws seemed to provide fodder for the last regime to bend the rules to suit them. Decrees were issued which couldn’t be implemented, and political rights were routinely trampled under the guise of amorphous national security. Mohamud must clarify to security agencies that their role is to protect our land and people, not step on people’s toes.
We have confidence in President Mohamud. Can he guarantee our protection? Our eyes will be on him.