Democracy without its core principle is an airplane in spiral in the air. Just to be in a bit descriptive, if an airplane is in spiral, it means its pilot is no longer in control and as the saying goes” anything goes up must come down.” This is exactly the same as a democracy without its core principle. Somalis in general are very versatile thinkers but for some reason cannot put it in context. If you analyze some of their poetries, one can imagine that they are ahead of their time in the democratic system time span when it comes to liberal thinking. “Nin ku yidhi sinnaan maynno,Adna buri sarrayntiisa” By M/I Hadrawi, and its rough translation would be. He who rejects equality, you object his superiority? Compare this to the definition of democracy which promotes equality. Very elegant, aren’t they? However, democracy and tribal system are not compatible and cannot bloom in the same flower pot. This is not a rocket science but a simple common sense in a society where sometimes reasoning becomes taboo lately. “Tribalism survives, Somaliland dies or tribalism dies Somaliland strides” By Dr A/I Samatar.
At the present Somaliland’s multiparty system is only in name’s sake but a tribal system governance in reality. Candidates are not selected according to their ethics and political ideology but according to their tribal linage and only after that infused into the party system. This is the Dilemma for internationally none recognized nation to face. Somaliland started from the dust of brutal civil war without the help of international intervention and slowly transitioned into tribal based government system to multiparty, system, thanks to its elders and resilient society. This was the beginning of an unseen bright star in the horn of Africa but seems every two steps forward goes one step backward.
First president Abdi Rahman Tuur came to power in a very difficult time in Somaliland and though civil war was still ranging managed to bring the fighting tribes to at least talk with a minimal reconciliation. Abdi Rahman Tour was eventually ousted by his fellow SNM comrades and Politically skill full President Ibrahim Igaal came to power. President Ibrahim Igaal continued to lead the progress till he passed away still in office naturally. By this time, his vice president was transitioned into power and finally managed to start the political multiparty in Somaliland. First multiparty political system seemed a blast as society was adapting or aligning with party system rather than their old tribal roots. It was a trial but worked well and President Dahir Rayale became the winner. The following presidential candidacy between President Dahir Rayale and M Ahmed Silanyo was however a phenomenal era. President Rayale being an X secret service officer in the Somalia’s dictatorship government and his opposition, leader, a former government minister in that same government but became the leader of antigovernment movement rebel leader who devoutly fought against that same regime.
I hope it won’t be the last time but the first time Somalilanders toasted their tribal political system out and resorted to a real multiparty system. This new phenomena in the horn of Africa attracted international communities as Somaliland became at least a light in a very troubling region. Udub the ruling party hold to power against Kulmiye party which could not live with losing to a candidate whom they considered that did not even deserve to run the country. Mujahid majestic metaphor was used in order to rattle up their supporters in the following election. After ugly competitive campaign between the parties, the ruling party tried to hang on to power while Kulmiye determined to win by any means. It was very painful to watch candidates that resorted to tribal political campaigns under the panel of democracy. Kulmiye won the election but did not at least roll back their winning strategy but rather it became the norms since then and now whatever it comes to end, Kulmiye ruling party owns it.
I do believe Somalilanders are very resilient people and can beat the odds as they usually do when the going gets tough, but the path our so-called politicians are curbing can leave a long-term negative effect on us opposite to maturely advanced internationally recognized country in our long-term dreams. We can camouflage as much as we want, but our multiparty system is marred by tribalism and cannot work unless dramatic change is not being done sooner. A democratic or even morally accountable government has to work for the people not for particular groups or regions. The absence of reasoning and logic will always encourage divisions and promote animosities among the tribe. In few days, there will be the most contested election in years but the way politicians are conducting themselves are not very encouraging. Every politician out there is not running for the common good of the country but first himself, secondly clan interest with the blessings of their political leaders. Politician are openly campaigning under the pretext of tribal politics. Let us be honest, this is not the path to create a democratic society. we are building a divided society into clans and tribal regional boundaries. Greed which was unknow among Somalilanders became normal as stealing public property became a sign of political success. In the old days, we were blessed with elders and politicians who would not hesitate to defy the tribal logic but it seems we are losing that accountability to inept power greedy politicians who will take success regardless how. The warning bells are ringing, but can we wake up to and respond with sincerity. It scares me but hope the best.
Kaid Askar Diriye
Edmonton Alberta Canada