August 13, 2012 ·0 Comments
By Dr. Said Mohamud, Presidential hopeful and chairman of People’s Party of Somalia.
With the eye of the international community focused on the elections in Somalia, the country is being given another chance to reshape its future. However, to usher in a new era of peace and prosperity, leaders of Somalia and the international community must live up to the opportunity that history presents.
First, let us examine the leadership in Somalia. While Somalia is my homeland, I recognize that the nation’s failure stems from decades of incompetent and bad leadership. This has causes that reach back to the days when the nation was born and the ensuing power struggles between Italy, Germany and Britain. Sadly we have often made poor decisions when deciding with whom to ally.
Somali leaders, however, took the wrong lesson away from their experience and avoided engagement with the outside world. This resulted in missing out on the world’s innovative new technologies, modern management techniques and educational opportunities. Today no country can stand alone and survive by itself. Turning away from the international community has allowed Somalia’s government to become corrupt and abusive in their quest to retain power. Without the presence of the international community, Somali leaders felt no pressure to practice good representative governance.
Interaction with the international community would have forced Somali leaders to adopt certain internationally recognized norms. It is no surprise that globalization, which has lifted many out of poverty around the world, has only affected countries that actively engage with the world. Those countries adopt and enforce the rule of law, property rights and human rights. With these in place, international companies are quick to invest, create jobs, impart know-how and help build the foundations for prosperity.
Leaders in Somalia must face up to the need for a continued international participation after the elections. This requires new leadership that is untarnished by past regimes. Only new, untainted leaders with fresh ideas and integrity can gain the confidence of both the Somali people and the international community.
Second, it is incumbent upon the international community to garner the trust of the Somali people as well. Sadly today there is a pervasive perception that the UN is not an entirely honest broker. While it is well known that corruption exists in the Somali government, there is also corruption evident among those in the international community. Yet the UN only appears to acknowledge the corruption of Somalis. While the international community cracks down on the Somali pirates, it neglects to act against the foreign entities that decimate the local fish populations and, with it, the Somali fishing industry. It ignores those who dump chemicals and toxic waste in Somali territorial waters. They go after piracy, but not its root causes. This perception strains the international community’s credibility in the eyes of Somalis.
The international community must also avoid being viewed as protecting the very Somali leaders who have plundered the country, inflamed clan rivalries to maintain power and continue to retard progress. Even the United States Secretary of State, when meeting with the Transitional Federal Government in Nairobi and the UN Security Council in New York has at times appeared to be supporting the status quo.
The international community must actively and publicly embrace the real candidates of peace and prosperity. Those who have participated in government in the past two decades are responsible for the three million Somalis forced to flee their country and today live as refugees around the world. They are responsible for over four million Somalis displaced internally. Today the Somali people can choose academics and educated people who have not engaged in the bloody civil war or corruption.
The results of this election hold promise only if all parties act responsibly. As registration for presidential candidates approaches, the Somali people focus their attention on the UN. The UN originally agreed to ban candidates suspected of corruption and those with blood on their hands, they should not compromise or back down. The UN and the Somali leaders need to live up to this moment in history. History is watching.
August 13, 2012Follow @somalilandpress
By goth Mohamed