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National Dialogue Is Overdue
ISSUE 129
Front Page
Index

Headlines

- President Rayale Reminds The International Community Not To Help Southern Warlords Resurrect The 1960 Union

- ďNo One Held Accountable For My Brotherís Death While In Prison
Custody,Ē Adel A. F. Jome

- Obituary Of Lieutenant-Colonel Walter Brown: Officer Who Won An MC In
Italy After Earlier Withstanding A Fierce Cavalry Charge By Native
Troops In Abyssinia

Health

- Hygiene

- Mutilating Africa's Daughters: Laws Unenforced, Practices Unchanged

International News

- Third Ordinary Session Of The Assembly Of The African Union Ends Passing Decisions, Declarations 

- Coca-Cola Deploys 5,000 Troops to Somalia

- Alliot-Marie: France, Djibouti Ties Solid As Rock

Peace Talks

- Kofi Annan At The Somali National Reconciliation Conference

- Khat Dampens Euphoria About Peace

Daallo Airlines Flies You Everywhere

 

Editorial & Opinions

- The international community should not rush into recognizing the government that comes out of Mbagthi talks.

- Educational Programme

- National Dialogue Is Overdue
- Statement Of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold Remarks For Africa Policy

- Are We Living In Rome? Is Janus Around?

- Sovereign States Rule... Or Do They?

- The Sovereignty Of Somaliland And Its Role In The Conflict Resolution Of The Region


By: Ali Gulaid, San Jose, CA

The tension is high and that is unhealthy situation to be in prior to
the approaching parliamentary election. Including the election,
Somaliland is facing formidable challenges that require a united
front and without lowering the level of polarization, these
challenges might eventually hinder the realization of Somalilandís
aspirations. In order to avert disaster, promote inclusiveness,
improve understanding, and preserve the common interest without
abandoning oneís political persuasion or ideology, the administration
should take the initiative to convene a national conference to
cultivate and instill trust and formulate a sustainable working
relationship among all parities.

The challenges ahead are many but for convenience, I have classified
roughly into four categories according to the scale of
controllability and impact just to organize my thought and no one
should interpret it as a theory: a) Permanent b) Temporary and c)
External d) Politics

The permanent challenges are the on-going struggle to improve the
fortune of the people by raising the standard of living. They exist
because resources are limited and sometimes mismanaged and they are
primarily related to the economy, the condition of the institutions
and the level of competence of the government in place.

These problems would always be there at different degrees, no matter
who is in power, but building institutions and adopting effective
public policies designed to better the quality of life can manage
them. With an articulated vision, proactive attitude, constant
monitoring, re-evaluating the situation and re-directing resources as
need be could in time ameliorate and curb the deterioration. This is
a colossal effort that requires identifying the urgent problems,
summoning up the know-how, drafting remedial measures and executing
without fail.

The temporary problems are related to human foibles and could be
ascribed to either a) poor management such as the Hargeysa water
shortage or b) poor attitude in dealing with the problems at hand
such as fending off criticism by engaging character assassinations
and personal attacks or c) poor policies such as improper allocation
of resources and d) pure incompetence. These create unnecessary
crisis and are the most controllable and shouldnít be part of the
problem but they are. Proper training, education and adequate
experience could help.

Then there are external problems. Some are natural like disasters
such as draught but others such as the assassinations of the foreign
expatriates, the ban on livestock export and withholding political
recognition are by design thrown into Somalilandís path to spike,
agitate, distract, delay or sabotage Somalilandís goal. These are the
least controllable but their impact could be softened by vigilance,
negotiations and carefully crafted diplomatic maneuvers.

And then there is politics, the mother of all polarization and the
art of polemics. Politics is part of life and that makes it akin to
the permanent classification but because of its magnitude, it is best
to deal with it separately. The decision either a bureaucrat or an
elected official makes affects the life of its subjects one way or
the other and that makes it a must to participate in order to impact
on the political direction the country is heading to. Democracy
without participation is an autocracy and contrary to what many
belief elections, even though essential to democracy, donít complete
democracy but rather complement. It accords the office holder the
power to govern by legislating, and making policies but some seek the
office for sinister motives such as enriching themselves or punishing
the opposition but with checks and balances, abuse of power could be
diminished.

Multi-political parties and fair and free elections are pivotal to
the democratic process but in a country like Somaliland where the
institutions are weak and the government powers; the legislative, the
judiciary and the executive are all accumulated, rather than
separated, under the executive branch fair and free elections canít
be conducted. That is given. Despite of knowing that the playing
field isnít level, the people of Somaliland are determined to accept
a system that favors unfairly and greatly the governing party. But
that has a limit. If rigging, injustice and misgovernance go beyond
the tolerable level, it could unleash civil unrest.

And that is why preparing for the upcoming parliamentary election is
paramount. In my view, the election of the parliament is a huge
project that requires greater amount of planning, input, negotiations
and logistics than the Presidential and Local government elections
required. All necessary precautions should have been taken by now but
in my assessment, it may be already too late. Somaliland canít afford
to mess it up.

Presently, the atmosphere is charged with accusations and counter
accusations. There is a lot of antagonism among the political parties
and the government and the public has little or no faith in the
system. Many feel alienated and the lack of transparency in the
government dealings contributes to the high tension and the mistrust.
The government is thin skinned, defensive and combative and the
opposition is disorganized. Precisely, that is why such a conference
is a necessary step to lower the tension and the mistrust and better
yet clear the coast for elections.

Somalilanders, wherever they are, are working hard either
individually or through organizations like the Somaliland Forum to
contribute to the quest for a politically recognized Somaliland.
Working hard but not working in synchronization and that enervates
the synergy. Such a conference could have helped towards that goal
too.

Who would attend the conference? Political parties, parliamentarians,
elders (Salaadiin), religious leaders, Local NGOís, Prominent
businessmen, local government officials and members of the diaspora.
The conference shouldnít be a platform to indict the administration
nor should it be a place to demand to share governance but it should
be a platform to exchange ideas, to debate in earnest and in good
faith, to set guidelines on contentious issues and advise how to
improve governing and agree on a set of procedures and policies
geared towards making the forthcoming elections palatable to all.

The government should initiate, invest and call on such a conference
so as to move forward with fewer hiccups. At this juncture,
Somaliland needs to show the skeptics that it is a solid ROCK. I
have no illusion that it would be a panacea but even if such a
conference doesnít accomplish a lot, it would send a positive message
to all and across the globe. Can we talk? AAAAAMIIIN.

 

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