About 400 Kulmiye delegates are supposed to gather in Hargeisa, early in September for Kulmiye’s second convention. The delegates will be coming together at a time when Kulmiye’s prospects for winning the presidential elections never looked brighter. But that is far from saying Kulmiye is guaranteed to win the election. For one thing, the elections are several months away which is a very long time in politics and the political scene could drastically change between now and then; for another, Kulmiye’s current bright prospects does not tell the whole story about the real conditions in the party.
In order to ascertain the real condition of Kulmiye party and its chances of winning the elections, the following three factors have to be considered: (a) Kulmiye’s weaknesses; (b) Kulmiye’s strengths (c) convention decisions.
- Kulmiye party prides itself on having the largest number of intellectuals, academics and educated people compared to the other two parties, yet when one looks for the contributions of so much brain-power in the form of studies, ideas and proposals for solving the various problems facing Somaliland, one is hard pressed to find any such contributions, which means either the party has not made any effort to use the skills of its educated elite or the educated elite in Kulmiye are the passive types who are just satisfied with holding a degree and not using it. Whichever is the case, it is a problem, and it has resulted in the anomalous situation where a party that boasts having the crème de la crème of Somaliland is at the same time so bereft of original and innovative ideas that could distinguish it from the other political parties.
- Although the SNM has made great sacrifices for Somaliland, most of the SNM leaders and rank file have accepted the new reality of competitive politics in Somaliland. However, there are some arrogant former leaders of the SNM who think that because they were part of the SNM they have earned a right to lord it over Somalilanders. Worse yet, despite their revolutionary rhetoric, these individuals turned out to be very corrupt when they had a chance to become ministers. Such people, though few, are in Kulmiye.
- Divisions within the party as evidenced by Ahmed Hussein Isse’s declaration of his candidacy for the presidency prior to the convention and the subsequent criticism of his action by another high ranking member of the party. The repeated postponement of the date of the party’s convention is another sign of rifts within the party.
- Lack of experience in foreign affairs which results in contradictory statements by the leaders of the party. For instance, Kulmiye often criticizes the government for being soft on Djibouti, then turns around and says the government is not doing enough to win Djibouti over to Somaliland’s side.
- Despite the difficulties of being in the opposition in an impoverished country, Kulmiye managed to hold together as a party with no major splits
- Kulmiye has made an effective use of parliament as an arena in which to score major points against the government
- It handled the Qaran issue very skillfully and put itself in a win/win situation. If Qaran succeeds in its quest of becoming a registered party, Qaran will owe Kulmiye a debt for supporting its quest, and if Qaran fails to become a registered party, its supporters are likely to feel affinity for the party that stood by them (Kulmiye) rather than the one that dashed their hope (Udub).
- Kulmiye has taken the battle to President Rayale early in the fight and has made inroads in the president’s own home region of Awdal. Kulmiye’s recent gains in the west (Awdal) combined with its Silanyo’s traditional good relations with the Harti communities in the East has enhanced the party’s credentials as a national party.
As important in deciding the fate of the party as the strengths and weaknesses named above, are the proceedings of the convention and its outcome. As far as proceedings are concerned, the relevant questions are whether the convention will go about its business in a civil and transparent manner, or whether there is going to be sharp divisions and chaos. In terms of outcome, the two most important issues are what the party’s platform is going to be and who will be its candidates for president and vice president.
In both the proceedings of the convention and its outcome, two conflicting principles will be at play: (a) Western competitive politics, (b) traditional Somali consensus politics.
The convention will offer a good window into the party’s ability to reconcile these conflicting imperatives as well as address its weaknesses and build on its strengths. Such efforts will require wisdom and skill. At least when it comes to political wisdom, Kulmiye may not have to go too far in search of it. All they have to do is listen to a tape of Mohamood Jama Abgal’s speech in Mansoor hotel in which he (a) advised Kulmiye not to confuse Rayale with Awdal (meaning Kulmiye has to act like a national party and not be the playground of narrow sectional interests); and (b) warned Kulmiye against the Real Madrid syndrome where everyone wants to be the star who scores and no one wants to do the hard work that makes it possible to score, or as Mr Abgal wondered, “Nin walba waa dhaliye yaa kubbadda u dhigaya?”
Source: Somaliland Times