A Ray of Hope for a Future without Fear
A Ray of Hope for a Future without Fear
The Somalia capital of Mogadishu is bustling with optimism. Reconstruction of the city has resumed, people are rebuilding homes, businesses are reopening; even streets lights are being restored.
People have been taking time to venture to the beach to celebrate a new beginning for the city and the rest of Somalia. Even on the political front, Somalis are showing signs of civil political discourse. Discussion of an interim constitution has surmounted many stumbling blocks, and the document has been passed in parliament. New members have been chosen and a new speaker and deputy speaker of parliament has been elected. This paves the way for normal presidential elections. Many Somalis have returned to Mogadishu to be part of this exciting new beginning for Somalia. Well over twenty political parties are staging campaigns in Mogadishu, and like street vendors each is vying for the presidency. Many of the individuals running for the presidency have no formal political platform or agenda—simply an eye for the presidency.
There is one political party offering a presidential candidate who is unique and charismatic. He was recently appointed by his own Hiil Qaran party (A Rallying Cry for the Nation). Ahmed Ismail Samatar was selected by Hiil Qaran to represent a unique, inclusive and well-educated professional group of Somalis—those who rejected kinship issues and chose instead to restore the Somali state through genuine good leadership. This group initially conducted an authentic assessment of how to pull Somalia out of its deeply rooted problems. From the very beginning Samatar condemned out rightly the Somali clan formula of power distribution that came out of the Somali Reconciliation Conference in Arta, Djibouti 2000. In Samatar’s own words, “this self-imposed hand cuffs overrides an individual’s ability to compete and lead a nation. This formula is for failures.” Samatar suggested that even if Somalis could not overcome this ungodly clan power sharing method, the clan must at least select to represent them an educated, competent, experienced honest person who understands nationalism and is already familiar with public service. This would bring dignity to the individual selected, and reflect well on the clan. If this does not happen and the position is filled simply for the sake of clan presentation, it would simply lead to more pitfalls.
Samatar and his political party have a clear and practical formula to restore the Somali state. This national plan is called “three plus one.” First and foremost is the restoration of civil life that would make possible peaceful co-existence among all the groups with commonly shared values. All citizens would be able to live in peace and would share custodianship of what is common to all.
The second point of the plan is to restore national institutions that are essential to support reliable public services for all people. The third point of the plan is leadership restoration. The best way to promote good leadership is fairness, competence and a long term vision. “Plus One” provides guidelines for peaceful interactions and co-existence among Somalia citizens, the country’s neighbors, and the world beyond.
There are seven additional plans that require immediate attention in restoring the Somali state. The first one provides peace and security by establishing Somali armed forces comprised of twenty-five to thirty thousand troops to protect Somali citizens and the country itself. Seven thousand of the troops would comprise a strong, professionally trained coast guard to protect the coast line. Once peace and security are restored, proactive reconciliation initiatives must be undertaken among all Somalis, giving special priority to those areas most negatively affected by inter-clan conflicts and animosity.
The third priority is to revive the economy and create jobs. In regard to economic development and job creation, Samatar prefers partnerships with more developed countries that include internal matching contributions rather than simply seeking external aid and handouts.
The fourth priority is education. This effort includes the rebuilding of schools, curriculum development and the establishment of educational standards that will ensure Somalis are able to compete with their peers worldwide.
The fifth priority is for the provision of clean water and health services for all Somalis. It is estimated that clean water alone would cure seventy percent of the tropical diseases infecting Somalis. Hospitals with professionally trained doctors and teaching facilities would be established across the country within a reasonable period of time.
The sixth priority is the rebuilding of international relations and reestablishment of good ties with other countries—relationships that are based on mutual understanding and an exchange of knowledge and resources.
Finally, the seventh point is the establishment of a nationally funded research institution that would bring together the very best of Somali intellectual resources and provide adequate funding to conduct effective research. This national research institute would be an independent organization that conducts research specifically focused on solving the problems that the country faces as it develops. The institution would educate and advise Somali government leaders so that national decisions would be based on meaningful research results and knowledge.
It is important to understand and know the character of the individual who is leading this plan. Professor Ahmed Ismail Samatar is a self made man, one of those rare individuals who is readily recognized and appreciated for his skills and character. He is knowledgeable, trustworthy, incorruptible—and most importantly, driven by shared principles. At a time when he could easily sit back and enjoy life, he decided rather to be a voice for Somalia—his beloved country that has ceased to exist as a legitimate state. From the bottom of his heart he believes in and has a vision for the restoration of his nation. His vision is to establish something far bigger than simply himself, his clan or his party. Unlike any other candidate he is equipped—not with kinship, but with true conviction and the desire to restore his nation. He offers both a symbol and an image that the Somalis will be proud to have representing them in the global community. Once the world sees Samatar as the president of Somalia, they will look at him and say, “The Somalis have changed! They have awakened and come out of their political graveyard.”
Samatar has poignantly described the advice given to him by an eighty year Somali woman from the town of Gabiley, Caasha Hodan. Caasha Hodan said to Samatar, “my son, if you would like to revive the Somali people you must renew the love Somalis had for each other in the early days of the Somalis’ struggle for independence.” She reminded him that even though Somalis were spread abroad in distant locations they were always connected by love. Love helped them overcome many obstacles. It is that love and change of heart that Samatar wants to restore among the Somali people. It is a love based on Somali nationalism and the Islamic creed of love and compassion for your fellow citizens beyond kinship. The decision to choose him as the president of Somalia rests on the Somali Parliament members. The Somalis who wish to see the revival of love and unity must stand up for principle. They need to use wisdom and foresight to encourage the members of parliament to vote for Samatar. If this happens, poor leadership will be a thing of the past. By Jafar Jamac
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