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Issue 645 -- 21st - 27th June, 2014
Somaliland And The Means Of Politics
My name is Mohamed Hagi Mohamoud. I was the General Secretary of the Somaliland Coast guard for a year before I moved to the UK, and I was a Civil Servant, rather than a military man for that position. Earlier than that, I have been working with the International Non-Governmental Organizations, LNGOs and other UN organizations as an Executive Director, Programme Coordinator and independent consultant for more than nine years to pick up the pieces of my life. At the same time I was also more involved the Somaliland politics and put my time more into the election campaigns from 2003 to 2010. In my fieldwork I worked different urban and rural places both in the Eastern part of Somalia known as Puntland and the Republic of Somaliland. This operation buttressed my experience on Somali politics, socioeconomics and the cultural life. Since then, I moved to the UK where I built up into a further education, and finally joined and secured a place one of the most prestigious Universities in the UK. I am now with The University of Warwick where I study Political Science and Sociology.
Although I was with Kulmiye party for its political campaign, which I believed the party will stand for the people of Somaliland in terms of economic and social development, auspiciously some of my thoughts came true and have been witnessed due to 400% of National Budget increase, the higher public employment, the State’s army forces ranking, (the Police, Coast Guard, Military, National Security and the Police Custodial Corps). The other perfection of social life in Somaliland has somehow reached in terms of country’s infrastructure, one good example is Buroa to Erigavo road that the people of Somaliland pledged millions of dollars. There are other advancement of such road networks in urban and rural areas, bureaucracy and sustaining social peace and stability, even though more needs to be done, for instance, maintaining the social cohesion and the sense of nationalism to safe and sound the country’s long-term peace plan, this principle is more related to understand and guide the philosophy of justice which is distributional concept of social equality of power and resource, and this is what needs to be done.
Since then I started to keep my mouth shut for all political issues, apart from some provisional advice to those whom I knew in the political arena, which I channeled my positive opinion based on fairness, national consensus of contradictory issues and bridge building matters.
In thus speaking, I am not in a position to criticize and find guilty to anyone or to any specific group. All I want from this piece of academic writing is only to stick a moral principle and the higher rank of inclusive political stability to diminish unnecessary routine crisis, which mainly based on self-interest oriented under unsubstantiated argument. My Statement will clarify to the people of Somaliland to understand politics as a concept, the democratic principles, the State and legitimacy, the rule of law and the true meaning of political parties, particularly why a State needs them to exist and the political ideology behind why we want political parties. I am outlining here these principles and widely express these fundamental political theories in order to trigger the concept of peace and stability of a nation within the phenomenon of democracy under the rule of law.
Politics as a concept
As Harold Laswell Stated politics is who gets what, when and how. These heavy words explain how politics is broad and wide-ranging concept that all-encompassing the way of life of the human being, when it comes the distribution of resources, life chances and the well-being. One good example of politics and its concept was revealed by the great philosopher Aristotle, he described politics as an exciting because people disagree. They disagree about how they should live. Who should get what? How should power and other resources be distributed? Should society be based on cooperation or conflict? And so on. They also disagree about how such matters should be resolved? How should collective decisions be made? Who should have a say? How much influence should each person have? And so forth, for Aristotle’s argument, this make the politics the master science, that is less than the activity through which human beings attempt to improve their lives and create the Good Society. If I shed light on and elucidate the real Aristotle’s definition of these questions in relation to Somaliland politics it will interestingly help the young generation of Somaliland whom the country belongs to. By understanding the true color of political crisis between any rival groups.
Politics when refer in the Western culture is all about building the economy through a reliable infrastructure and employment, those who fail to build this paradigm must leave. Politics is more than what governments choose to do or not to do, it is more about how we live in peace and stability. To construct peace is wider than how the government settled peace building political strategy, it must be civic nationalism, which based on public relations and orientation. For instance, governments cannot make peace through a barrel of a gun, what is happening in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Democratic Republic of Congo are good examples. It is always the civic collaboration, which assure peace and stability. A viable economy based on equality and fairness is the greatest success of peace assurance. If that is the case, a question needs to be answered, it is somehow simple and undigested, because we hear so many times people arguing by blaming different politicians. I wonder if this could be the indispensable response to the question in order to solve the problem of the monotonous political crisis. In my opinion, the problems we have in our politics is far from what politics is all about, because politics is not about individuals’ self-interest; it is about building a nation’s economy, health, education patriotism to avoid partisanship, this should be based on political stability and social cohesion, this is what politics stands for.
In contrary, to a newly born post conflict nation, formed in a tribal political system, which internationally unrecognized like Somaliland, politics must rely on compromise and consensus. Because people are not equipped with knowledge, and their understandings are baseless for the lack of Civic Nationalism, which is always inclusive. The politics necessarily requires in this phenomenon a clear political system, which is full of compromises and dialogue. For that reason, consensus means agreement, but it refers to an agreement of a particular kind. It implies first, a broad agreement, the terms which are accepted by a wide range of individuals or groups. Second, it implies an agreement about fundamental or underlying principles, as opposed to precise or exact agreement. In other words, a consensus permits disagreement on matters of emphasis or detail. A procedural consensus is a willingness to make decisions through a process of consultation and bargaining. A substantive consensus is an overlap of ideological positions that reflect agreement about broad policy goals. Therefore, in recent Kulmiye skirmish status quo shows that consensus has not been made whatsoever, and that is why we still see yet not last complications. In this consensus matter, the mainstay and the backbone of building bridges is only put its faith on the substantive articles of the national constitution as well as the party constitution. In this scenario it’s very important to stay away the first face of political power, which is power as decision making, the face of power consists of conscious actions that in some way influence the content of decisions. For example, the use of force or intimidation to solve a problem in politics this is called (the stick), it incarcerates citizens who opposed particular agenda of the ruling group, and this situation creates violence and damages the country’s political image. Secondly, the productive exchanges involving mutual gain (the deal), this is to collect and a give enticement for some seasonal confidantes in order to receive sustenance to feed your interest; this jeopardizes the enforcement of rule of law and ultimately creates authoritarian system. Finally, the creation of obligations, loyalty and commitment, (the kiss), this phase of political power agreed on as the worst aspect of use of power, it starts from where the elected leader nominates mostly selection of children of ministers or other government subordinates whom contribute no advice to him but conforms him. This leader who uses these powers of the stick, the deal, and the kiss is said to be the illiterate politician, he doesn’t hear, doesn’t speak, nor participates in the political events.
He doesn’t know the cost of life, the price of the bean, of the fish, of the flour, of the rent, of the shoes and of the medicine, all depends on political decisions. The imbecile doesn’t know that, from his political ignorance is born the unemployment, the abandoned child, and the worst thieves of all, the bad politician, corrupted and flunky of the national and multinational companies.” Where the good politics is who uses Politics as the activity by which different interests within a given political unit of rule [or setting] are conciliated by giving them a share in proportion to their importance to the welfare of the whole community. It is the process of practical and ongoing reconciliation of the interests of various groups which comprise the political as a whole.’ (Bernard crick, in Defense of Politics). I needed this leader for our country who understands the nature of Somaliland politics which is tribal political system, which has a democratically accepted constitution with democratic fundamentals of government, and that was the reason I campaigned for the incumbent President Sillanyo. The question I am asking is, whether he is the man who has that cryptogram, to discover the meticulous answer for this question you need to put yourself out of the political playfield or not a supporter for a one.
Democracy originated the term from the ancient Greece, which means ‘’rule by the people’’. This denotes people to choose their leaders to hold them accountable to their policies. One factor that supports how democracy creates equality is, the way in which democracy encouraged individuals to exercise their rights in order to choose and declare their opinion freely. Democracy allows everyone, to know and become informed about the public matters and issues. This will allow every individual to watch how politicians his/her representative is doing or using the powers that has been given to govern. Individuals are equal when it comes to vote, and decide what and who to elect, each person has one vote, and he or she also has the freedom to choose between parties. So in that case, there is an equal distribution of political power and influence. In this sense, democracy created equality among the individuals within a society by giving the equal rights to vote an election. As Heywood (2013) pointed out, how people react when it comes to elect their leaders, and that democracy allows them to protect themselves from any potential hostility, ‘’ ultimately, protective democracy aims to give citizens the widest possible scope to live their lives as they choose, and the belief that individuals should entirely responsible for their economic and social circumstances’’ (p. 96). This ‘’lives as they choose’’ refers that democracy offers to everyone in the society to make his/her choice towards which way they want to live in terms of freedom from physical coercion, the freedom of speech and expression. This is to let people to exercise what they want and how they want it without offending or harming others. Therefore, this indicates that democracy stands for equality and freedom of individual live. If that is the case why the people of Somaliland out crying and making unnecessary noises, the answer is because they prefer tribal linkage than being a full nation. Therefore I would say there is no gap between the ordinary averages people of Somaliland and the so called educated office-bearers and elites, in terms of the considerate of the State principles and the nation building. Those who running the show, are absolutely have no idea whatsoever how States function politically, whilst the ordinary people have no idea what they need from the elected politicians on whether they have done their job of building the nation.
The State and Legitimacy
The State is a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory. So by definition State and the government are absolutely different, and just to be very clear about the full meaning of the State, I describe State as follows, Political Power + Territory, legitimacy, government + Nation = State. On the road to express more about this formula of the State, the Political Power refers people who have same ethnic roots, share culture and land must have the Political Power to secure their lives, protect their potential resources in order to defend the outside enemies, which might be the other societies who eagerly searching resources. This is what generated colonization, annexation, occupation, invasion as well as the non-violent migration, which is now taking place parts of the world that formed the sustainable economies of their own. We see people are moving from one place to another because of economic and security problems. Political Power meant to solve those problems of unemployment and violence of any sort. According to Karl Maxx’s power as property of social system he Stated that ‘’Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given, and transmitted from the past’’.
This under circumstances directly encountered refers it’s the people of any country who choose how to live according to their history. Therefore, Somaliland people must continuously recall the bloodshed, massacre and extermination from the brutal regime of Siyad Bare, although this recall rally round the presence of Somaliland’s harmony and stability for many years, it must also do more to build the social fabrics, improve the doctrine of civic education to its youth and create sustained political and economic developments based on freedom, justice and rights. Secondly, Territory is the land and the sea in which States claim for their own, this could be international recognized borders, and the borders of Somaliland are the British colonial borders before the country unified with Somalia. Thirdly, Legitimacy this is one of the main paradigms that make possible for the States to exist in the first place, without Legitimacy, governments cannot function at all. Let us take an example of Democratic State People elect their leaders democratically, this election allows the government to serve its people, secure the peace and defend the territorial integrity of that State. So the term Legitimacy in this meaning is to declare lawful, the issue of Legitimacy is the rightfulness of a regime or system of rule. After the election citizens feel obliged to acknowledge the authority of a government, people have the duty to respect the State and obey its laws, legitimacy is the grounds on which governments may demand obedience from citizens. Somaliland is one of the blessed States that elect their leaders and those who represent its people.
Political parties are in place, people must vote the election time to which party they want peacefully, elections must be free and fair. Free means no constraints to who you want to vote for and fairness is about lack of corruption and fraud when counting votes in the electoral commission. After this sort of election, those who lose must accept the result and people must obey the elected leader and representatives under the rules and regulations of the country, which is constitutional. Fourthly, government is not the State, it is part of the State, and it is the operational body within the State where Politics and Power remains. People expect from the government to disperse power and other resources equally and fairly, bring justice based on the distributional concept, freedom which is the opposite of constraints or the absence of the impediments. People need freedom and democracy, freedom and physical coercion, freedom, rationality and morality as well as the freedom and the economic impediments, because freedom is best achieved when people are economically secure. This diagram shows how governments work within the State, bear in mind that government is not the State but part of the State.
Governing Institutions are the Executive Organ, they are the Cabinet Ministers, the President is the head of the Cabinet, the Parliament made of the two Houses of the Elders and the Representatives, and the Speaker of the House of Elders is the head of the Parliament and the third person of the State behind the President and his Vice President. The higher court, which is the constitutional court at the same time is the Judicial Organ. On the other hand, Executive Agencies consist of mainly the security bodies of the State, such as the police, the military and the NSA. Take into consideration, The President is the Head of the State and The Head of the Cabinet Ministers at the same time. Finally, nation is the people of a State, the word nation is sometimes turns into nationalism, which means a believe, faith that involves citizens of a country to become attach and stick to their nation or State, it means to love and provide support to State’s decisions and actions. People feel nationalism the days of war or the world tournaments like FIFA World Cup, here in the UK you see England flags waving around all over the country.
The Rule of Law
Another factor about democracy and how it creates equality is the adoption and practicing the rule of law. Democracy empowers the existence of law and order, where people will enjoy and live under rule of law. By utilizing the rule of law democracy also created and encouraged the governmental system of check and balance. This system was set in place to minimize the inaccuracies or improper behavior within the organizations or national institutions of the States. Check and balance will not allow that some of the departments, such as the executive organ of a State government to control over decisions. And it fully prevents from individuals or departments having too much power over others, and it contrarily creates cooperation and progression of task development. This rule of law, play a vital role in the democratic system of governance, whether it is a public or private entity. On the other hand, democracy allows individuals when joining an organization to accept the rule of law of that organization and if they are not happy with these laws they have the absolute choice to leave or not join it in the first place. Although in the States it is really hard for individuals, and they have not the same option when it comes to oppose the State rules and regulations, and the reason is the majority of the people in that particular State voted and agreed on those rules, and the rest might obey. But still democracy provides the maximum protection to individual rights. As Garner (2012) pointed out the value and the advantage of democracy by practicing in our systems will help lot about our freedom wellbeing of the entire society, ‘’democracy seems to offer us the ideal grounding for political obligation because if we make the laws under which we live, then they are likely to be in our interests and therefore we get what we want. In other words, we do not lose anything as a result of being in a political community’’ (p.79). This ‘’ we do not lose anything’’ refers as a democratic society living under the rule of law and freedoms of opinion, speech, movement and choice, we are not in a danger to misplace and fail our way of live. So in this sense, democracy also creates equality. And obeying the rule of law in the State is very important as it provides our security and freedom as well as our natural rights.
In the democratic world, people decide and elect their representatives in parliament; they also decide to elect the head of State at the national and local levels. By doing so in democracy, there are competing political parties in place, who are running for elections by undertaking political campaigns, which they want to earn votes to win elections against other political parties. This is a system based on one man one vote, where People have absolute rights to vote who they want through or by means of free and fair elections. In democracy people have the highest rank of the political authority because they choose their leaders for a reason, although power flows from them to their leaders after election, which is called the Legitimacy in Political Science. Leaders are temporarily elected by the people with these powers, and if people are not satisfied when the term ends they can easily change leaders peacefully, alternatively by voting other leaders. Each person whether poor or rich has one vote to choose who he/she wants to be his/her leader or representative, this refers equality and freedom where everyone can exercise his rights freely, to secure impartiality and fairness. The election to be free and fair, they have to be administered by a fair and neutral professional body, this organization must give equal treatment to all political parties, and their candidates during the election times.
In conclusion, Somaliland people mostly understood the principles of democracy and the political parties, but unfortunately, politicians and those who run or eager to run the State are failed to understand the principles of democracy and the means of the State. Although Somaliland blessed in areas of peace, democracy and economic progression, the country is to a certain degree cursed for the reason that it lacks a good leadership, and there is an acknowledged marvel where technocrats never lead a State’s politics efficaciously. Therefore, in my piece of script I would like to mention what to accomplish in order to become politically stable, which means politics not to fail and cause violence within the Somaliland society. I am here to express some Political Principles to follow. Firstly as democratic State Somaliland leaders whether opposition or the governing party must understand the high core principles of democracy. For instance, democracy in this world, most of the States do Instrumental Democracy, which is illiberal where elections took place perhaps freely but not fairly. The Fundamental Democracy, which is the most successful paradigm in the civilized world can only be adapted if politicians and elites of country choose to do. To make the Theory of Democracy into practice in such an unrecognized country the following ten main principles must be fulfilled.
Mohamed Hagi Mohamoud a Political Scientist and a Social Researcher, and an author of Academic Articles in East Africa. Department of Political Science. The University of Warwick. Email: M.H.