December 11, 2011 ·7 Comments
Thanks to President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud, Who showed a great courage and full- heartedly fulfilled his campaign promise. The field is now open for all those who want to contend in the Somaliland political arena.
The current administration did not only give the opportunities to compete and form political parties but also the public media and especially the national TV is impartially put under the disposal of all parties. Unlike previous administrations, this current administration put its party in level field with other parties and I hope it is ready to congratulate the future winning parties in the upcoming local council elections even if the ruling party fails to become one of the winners.
It is up to the competing parties to show us some graciousness, vision and more importantly promise to become open and transparent from the very inception to the end of the race. We want the candidates to respect the intelligence of their constituents. Political parties must not only fulfill the conditions put forward by the Party Registration Commission and the National Electoral Commission, but must also reveal the sources of their campaign funds. We want to see the names of real people or companies that donate to these campaigns. More importantly we want the electoral Commission to limit all party contributions and the maximum amount allowed for campaign expenditures.
What we see now on the ground is everything but transparency. We see prospective party leaders crisscrossing the country with convey of tens if not hundreds of sport utility vehicles. They throw lavish parties for the rich and the mighty clan elders. The poor and weak majority do not get passes to these plentiful parties, but instead they get reserved spots along the roadsides and under the Somaliland baking sun.
We are at the beginning of the party registration phase and the official campaigns date has not yet been announced by the Commission. But still, it is estimated that some leaders have already spent close to hundred thousand dollar in their first popularity-seeking galas. Strangely enough every party leader is trying to out spend and intimidate its contenders at this early stage of party registration phase. They are all tediously boring and they shower the inhabitants of all villages they pass by with the same praises. Most of these candidates are unable to articulate why people should vote for them. Therefore, I am interested to know if Somalilanders are really taking them seriously- personally I don’t!
The local council elections are just over three months away and the three old parties do not have elected chairs, let alone executive and central committees, this is mostly because of ignorant political infighting between some high-ranking megalomaniac personalities of the three major parties. There is even a guy that we all know and we are not sure if he will ever be elected to the chairmanship of his party at all, but he is already behaving as the president elect – that is funny, is it not?
Most of the party leaders are not known to have high paying jobs or businesses of their own that could sustain such expensive and high profile campaigns and we haven’t heard of a single party leader that held a public or a private fund raising event for his/her campaign. The funny thing is nobody is questioning the sources of the hefty candidates’ finances.
By the look, the touch and the smell of these campaigns, it is obvious that their finances have not been lawfully acquired, but please don’t ask me – I personally do not have inkling where this money is coming from. However, logic tells me that the sources of these finances could be traced back to the Somaliland treasury, possible embezzlement from NGO funds or perhaps are paid as bribes by local or international companies. Any candidate that got his campaign funds through these methodologies is a thief in my books and doesn’t deserve to be elected to a public office. Private companies and the international community do not just throw money in the pockets of corrupt politicians unless they have secured a vested interest. For the thickheaded politicians among us; smart people and profit orientated companies do not pay money if they could dig up the expected services legally and for free.
Unless we strictly regulate the riches that pour into our election campaigns, our democracy will not hold for too long. Democracy is not only about empty slogans and putting a ballet papers in boxes, but there is more to it and we will not have a real democracy unless we put a short leash on politicians. Otherwise, corruption will prevail and the more fraudulent the election campaigns are, the less likely decent people will run for an elected office. To build a just and a democratic Somaliland state, we must continuously improve our electoral system. Only through fairness we will be able to elect the right people to public offices. We must go beyond the short sighted clannish mentality and free our country from corruption and preferential treatment.
We must elect people with integrity and vision. Let us tell our politician that we will not vote for them, no matter how long their processions of four-wheel drive cars are and how many plastic artificial flower rolls are put around their necks by poor women and children – Allah knows if these sun-beaten and dehydrated women and children had breakfast before they queued to welcome these attention seeking politicians. We must insist and not shy away to ask in every occasion, what they intend to do for our country and people.
More importantly, we want them to disclose who is funding their campaigns and by how much, else we won’t vote for them. Why should we? If their campaigns are funded by their clans or by especial interest groups then let them ask those people to vote for them, but not us. We the majority will not give them our votes unless they come clean with us, simply because we do not trust political robbers with the development and prosperity of our country. If we vote for crooked candidates we will not be forgiven by our future generations. Let us vote for people with uprightness and better vision for the future of our country. Let us beat the world with our home-grown democracy, the first of its kind.
Yusuf Dirir Ali
Views expressed in the opinion articles are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of Somalilandpress editorial.