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Reinventing The Wheel In Somaliland
The upshot of all of this is, why waste time and valuable resources to remake something that has proven to be working and reliable over the millennia? Knowledge accumulated through generations of scholarship is right in front of Somaliland to use it for free.
From Pericles in ancient Greece to John Lock (Magna-Carta), to Thomas Jefferson (Federalist Papers and the declaration of independence), to the recent Orange Revolution in Ukraine , humanity has been engaged in piecemeal efforts at gathering what works and what does not work. For Somaliland , fidelity to the proper use of the amassed knowledge and heritage of the world community is an absolute imperative in order to realize the dreams and aspirations of the Somaliland people.
Somaliland doesn’t have the luxury of inventing new ways of governing societies if it wants to catch up and make up for the time lost since independence from the British and the subsequent misrule from the South. Tinkering with the knowledge and wisdom acquired through generations of scholarship and hard work isn’t going to produce a viable stable progressive society in Somaliland .
Somaliland people have spoken loud and clear, they want a government based on the democratic principles as is understood by the global community. It is incumbent on the current leaders of Somaliland , be they at the executive level or at both houses of parliament to develop values that are consistent with the fundamental tenets of democracy.
Democracy is defined by most dictionaries as “a government by the people in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.” Abraham Lincoln, Para-phrased this definition of democracy as a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”
For democracy to succeed there must be a firm commitment by Somaliland polity (government; civil society, the public and traditional leaders) to the internationally accepted norms of democratic values. These are according to the US Info. Agency “a set of ideas and principles about freedom, but it also consists of a set of practices and procedures that have been molded through a long, often tortuous history”.
For a start there must be a minimum of understanding of the basic rules governing political activities, legal structures that are based on the rule of law, and practicing to the extent possible traditions of good governance (accountability, transparency, efficient public and private institutions)
The recent political crisis in Somaliland illustrates the urgent need for some soul searching by Somalilanders no matter what political party they support. We all know the post-mortem analysis supporting one side or the other, but the important thing to me is what are the lessons learned? Conflict is inevitable in the transitional period toward the declared goal of fully functioning participatory democracy.
How you manage these conflicts and by what methods you use will have tremendous effect on the political environment that emerges from the initial chaos. Following the democratic model of conflict management guarantees predictable and fair outcomes that will satisfy both the government of the day and its opposition. Using extra-judicial practices for short term political expediency will come back to haunt Somaliland leaders and the public.
A dangerous culture of dependency has been established by the political elites in Somaliland to pass the buck to the Guurti (the council of elders) for resolution. With all due respect to the members of the Guuti, they may have the wisdom and credibility to solve security related issues and inter communal problems but they do not posses exclusive expertise to adjudicate problems that go into the heart of governance and democracy.
Such issues lie within the purview of the Somaliland constitutional court. It must be the constitutional court (or the Supreme Court of Somaliland) that acts as the final arbiter to all disputes that pertain to the controlling legal authority of the constitution. The council of the Guurti has no legal authority to intervene in disputes between the Somaliland government and its opposition. It may not be convenient for some people but it is extremely important to follow the mandates of the Somaliland constitution. In the long term everybody including opposition parties in Somaliland will be better off.
It comes as a huge surprise to me that allot of sophisticated Somalilanders in the Diaspora are passionately supporting the flawed verdict of the Guurti. These are the same people who huff and buff about alleged constitutional violations by the government every time they hear something they do not like. Many of us still support the solution of the political dispute but believe it could have been handled in a way that doesn’t contravene the current Somaliland constitution.
Once the Guuti decided on its final verdict they could have convinced members of the court to follow suit and transfer the responsibility to declare the binding arbitration of the Guurti.
One thing is clear from all these trials and tribulations, and that is reinventing “the wheel” is not going to work in Somaliland . Eventually all these little pyrrhic victories by one side or another will boomerang on the political elites in Somaliland . Ultimately it will be the average Somalilander who will bear the costs of the short sighted remedies of today’s political leaders. ,