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Articles Politics Tigrai TPLF

The Deep Reform of TPLF: What the New Leadership should do?

I am writing this open letter to the newly elected chairman of TPLF, Dr Debretsion to share my personal recommendations on how to realize the fruits of the reforms identified recently following the party’s deep renewal of the front.

Introduction

Before few months the TPLE Central Committee held its tight meeting aiming at renewing and reforming its decayed Strategic Leadership. The meeting was held in Mekelle Capital City of the Tigray Regional State and a sit for TPLF head quarter.

Historically and culturally, people give due attention when TPLF seats for meeting expecting it would bring substantial solutions for any political problems. However, in the last 15 years people was tired and given up hope on the very party which was more trusted than any human being and less trusted than God.

The reason why people gave up hope on the most trusted party was that TPLF has been Conducting meetings without any results for the last 15 years. However in its 44 years existence TPLF has made a CC meeting unmatched in history following its 35 day meeting /of course day and night/.

TPLF has come up with concluding remarks confessing every crime it has committed. The confession indicated clearly that TPLF has restored its past culture and we sensed it is back to its original doings more or less.

It   was able to change its chairman and some executive members who were responsible for any kind of failure it faced. To put it shortly, the failed strategic leadership is changed now by capable and legitimate one capable of healing the wounds of the people and restoring the hope of the frustrated young Generation.

What TPLF should do to implement the reforms? My own recommendations

What makes the CC meeting unique is that the very responsible leadership for the stated failure is avoided by more confident and capable leadership who won legitimacy by the public. This is, therefore, historically unmatched, profoundly and fundamentally transformational meeting. What is remaining is to be able to deliver most of the promised policies to maintain the public trust.

Accordingly, TPLF is expected to implement directions of reforms to words to real revolutionary democracy, party discipline, democratic culture, picking able members, put the promotion of social fairness, justice and improvement of people’s lives as the starting point and ultimate goal, further emancipate the mind of new generation, continue to release and develop the productive forces, release and strengthen vigor of the society, get rid of defects in the various systems and mechanisms, and strive to open up broader prospects for social democracy with Ethiopian characteristics, promoting more efficient, equal and sustainable economic development supported by innovation, deepening political system reforms that features the organic unity of upholding the leadership of the party, the people being the masters of the country and governing the country according to the rule of law, building and developing people’ democracy with wider  more adequately institutionalized and sound participation in a systemic ways by adapting due standards and procedures.

Stepping up efforts to form a scientific and effective social management systems so that our society is full of vigor but also harmonious and orderly through providing fair income distribution system, promoting common prosperity, access to basic public services supported by innovations. TPLF should deepen the reform of party building system by centering on enhancing the parts capacity to govern in a scientific and democratic ways and in accordance with the rule of law and party procedures

We should restore and maintain the party advanced nature of purity, public legitimacy, thus providing strong political support for implementing reforms and opening up revolutionary democratic modernization. The success of the reforms & opening up will provide us with profoundly rich experiences for realizing the reform comprehensively.

Let’s be realistic and pragmatic, base ourselves on reality in everything we do, summarize successful experiences, learn useful experiences from other international and local parties and boldly promote innovations both in theory and practice put people first, respect the peoples central position in the country, give full reign to their creativity, promote well rounded development of the person.

Improve scientific decisions making at all level consensus from all sides and reform joint force for reform in social, political, media, cultural, and education areas. Scientifically standardized and effective in operation are to be formed standardized and effective in operation are to be formed to ensure that party & government institutions in all areas become more nature & complete.

TPLF should make overall development for comprehensively deepening reforms stressing that it is important to uphold and implement the basic economic & political systems, accelerate the transformation of government functions, deepen, speed up the improvement of a modern  market system, work hard to create urban and rural development, strengthening mechanisms for conducting checks and oversight over the exercise of power, create innovation in the cultural sector, social undertakings, social governance, improve  party and government leadership over the reform.

Transform government function, deepen the reform of the administrative system, exercise government administration in an innovative way, increase public trust in the government and improve its competence and build a law based and service oriented government.

Make rural development agriculture and industry benefit each other so that the overwhelming majority of farmers can participate in the modernization process on an equal basis and share the fruits of their bitter-sweet-struggle. People should be in the center to oversee the exercise of power and that power is exercised in a transport manner.

Build systems that combat and prevent corruption, promote political integrity and see to it that officials are honest and capable, the government is clean, political integrity is upheld, Tigrian unity is maintained, making sure that all fruits of development are shared by all people fairly and effectively.

Quickly resolving the most pressing and real problems of the greatest concern to the people and better satisfy the people’s demands. Enhancing & improving the party’s leadership, answer that the part plays its role as the leadership core in exercising overall leading and coordinating all efforts and improve the party’s art of leadership and governance to ensure the victory of the reform and creating stable and orderly society- all party’s members should focus on the major policies and strategies of the country both in thinking  and action, raising their awareness of opportunities and responsibilities that enables them keep the right directions.

Establishing institution and mechanisms to pool talented people and give them full play to show and give concern for people’s livelihood particularly to those indentified children of freedom-fighters sacrificed and disabled. There will never ever be an end to practice, emancipation of the mind, to reform and opening up- eventually making Tigray-Ethiopia a modern that is rich, strong, democratic & united to realizing  the  dream of the  lost comrades, this is to be called national great revival.

We most deepen political system reform that features the organic unity of upholding the leadership of the party, the people being the masters of the country, governing the country according to the rule of the law.

Adhering to the major strategic judgment that development and democracy are still the key to solving all types of problems in Ethiopia, working hard to address the root problems of the challenges, believing the federal system is the only medicine to maintain Ethiopia as a nation. Solve market imperfection, too much government interference and poor over sight over projects being underway.

Adhere to party’s basic line, reject the old and rigid closed door policy, improving the working mechanisms of people’s congress, widen channels for the public to participate in legislative in an orderly manner through discussions, hearing, assessment and publicizing draft law actively, address social concerns through inquiring and investigating of specific problems and putting record for examinations.

Establishing the building of new types of think-tanks with party’s characteristics aiming at reforming major policies, ideologies and structures of the party would be the pillars of the reform.

Heart to heart talks with the people to ensure that peoples are satisfied with equality, justice in every court-verdict, all acts in violation of the constitution and party’s key directions must be investigated and bring to courts.

Forming scientific and effective mechanisms to check and coordinate power, reforming party’s discipline –inspection system will be instrumental to maintain TPLF culture.

Selecting capable, honest, responsible officials competitively merely by their grades or votes- the members should be committed towards people’s causes, diligent and programmatic in serving the people and not afraid of taking on responsibilities.

We shall get rid of the “official rank standard”, officials be adaptive to promotion, demotion, appointment, resignation or retirement.

Warning to TPLF

Ethiopia faces a series of prominent challenges and is in a dilemma on the political economic and social fronts and its path of continuity as a country.  Thus, the party must, with greater political courage and wisdom, and lose no time to deepen reform in key sectors and discard all notions and systems that hinder efforts to pursue development in scientific ways. If the new leadership contributes its own share in implementing the reforms scientifically, then it is great help to rescue national security which is heading to genocide types of act.

TPLF should set up a well-developed scientific standardized and effective framework of systems and ensure that all institutions in all sectors are fully functioning.

Last but not least TPLF should develop well designed modern Media centers that conduct investigative, report, research, collect and verify feed backs in all sectors of development and political deeds. Have TV stations, Newspaper, radio, magazine, and website, face book, etc by assigning skilled journalists who can criticize bad deeds, give solution and report good deeds, expose corrupted officials etc. By assigning capable professionals, we can defend and defeat national enemies through using all types of communications effectively and in a well organized and integrated ways.

However failure to realize the stated reforms in all fronts will lead us find ourselves in a blind alley and vicious circle which will take us 100 years to bring it back to its origin. It is a question of national survival rather than party survival.

Best regards

Zeray Hailemariam ([email protected])

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Categories
Articles featured Somalia Somaliland

Somaliland Sovereignty: The irrevocable and unanimous decision

Somaliland-Somalia talks that failed previously is going to be resumed. The good news is that Switzerland is ready to host talks since Turkey has been accused of lacking neutrality among the two sides.

According to Somaliland foreign minister Sa’ad Ali Shire, speaking to local media in Hargeisa on Saturday, the talks would be held soon as the logistics already started to fix the date. However, the preliminary meeting between the presidents Mohamed Abdilahi Farmajo of Somalia and Somaliland Muse Bihi Abdi of Somaliland would be held in neighboring Djibouti.

The two sides will set the agenda of the talks in Switzerland after the preliminary discussions are held. Thanks to president Muse Bihi Abdi who came up with an idea that Turkey should not be the only country to have the mediation role since previous meetings held in Turkey did not bear fruit.

The good beginning of the talks was unanimously impressed by the London conference on Somalia in May 2013 and called for further talks but why the talks have failed is the question being asked by Somalilanders. Many believe that such failure is the responsibility for Mogadishu government that still insists on the unity of Somalia and Somaliland and are ignoring that such unity lost many years ago while Somaliland wants to secure secession it declared in May 1991.

Following the petition for recognition signed by more than one million citizens, out of the country’s population approximately a 4 million has been a sign that showed the world, Somaliland will never go back to Somalia but ready to be a brotherly state working together in the best interest of the region.

The past dialogue between Somaliland-Somalia in Turkey was an encouraging step toward political future of both sides which have been initiated former two presidents of Somaliland and Somalia.

Though, former president of Somaliland Ahmed Silanyo during his term in office stated that Somaliland independence is irrevocable if it takes even 100 years while his counterpart of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh has repeatedly listed “national unity” as one of the top priorities for his administration. Such concepts were the reasons why the talks have failed.

According to a position letter signed by the former foreign minister of Somaliland, Dr. Mohamed Abdilahi Omer in 2013, the dialogue was aimed at working together on the matters of cooperating in the fight against terrorism, piracy, serious crime, illegal fishing, the dumping of toxic waste at sea and encouraging international aid, trade and investment before the recognition issue is touched.

More than twenty years of severed relations, the Dialogue was expected to allow Somaliland and Somalia to negotiate on a range of practical measures which can potentially benefit for both sides but the federal government did not carry out what has been agreed and even does not recognize the Somaliland’s grievances from Siyad Barre who massacred many Somalilanders.

Why Somaliland Citizens Reject another Union with Somalia

Somalia still has the way of thinking to ignore that Somaliland people have been independent in 1960s but to build the greater Somalia, they have joined to Mogadishu but has been an abortive at the end.

The badly informed, arrogant authorities of Somalia still consider that Somaliland is run by Mogadishu and gives position of its government to some people who hail from Somaliland. Those individuals were prohibited to come back to Somaliland since they violated against Somaliland constitution that dictates the sovereignty of Somaliland republic is irrevocable.

Whenever they are to participate in the international conferences, they pretend to represent Somaliland and will bring it back to the unity but they should know that Somaliland is now an oasis of peace and stability after holding three presidential elections where power was transferred peacefully and this democratic process showed the international community that Somaliland is not something that can be changed by individuals.

Anybody hailed from Somaliland and nominated as a member of Somalia federal government is just a desperate attempt to make one believe that Somaliland Republic is still a part of Somalia but the real issue is that everybody knows the unity of Somaliland and Somalia has already lost 1960s and would be back again.

According to my experience, Somaliland and its people had suffered with great brutality in the hands of Somalia as the history cannot be hidden. They will never forget the oppression, the suppression, the imprisonments, the torture, the massive displacements, the destruction of cities, and the genocidal acts committed against them by Siyad Barre administration. The mass graves are still in everywhere in the country and this is really a crime against the humanity and we, Somalilanders still remember the cries of our innocent people used to be killed at midnights.

What can be done if the talks again fail?
It is possible that the talks may again fail since Somalia still struggles to gain the unity of Somalia while Somaliland sticks to its succession, then Somaliland should continue working towards its democratic elections and cancel having any other talks with Somalia.

Somaliland should influence its clans within all its colonial borders since it cannot be forced to join Somalia. Somaliland government should know that it gained a momentum of recognition by its own people but the other international recognition will come sometime later if Somalilanders come up with great tolerance and develop their own vision of Somaliland’s independence.

In sum, the Somaliland-Somalia Dialogue has the potential to be the sign of succession but not by a unity according to Somaliland people’s perception. It is fine for both sides to cooperate with each other instead of being hostile. I call for Somaliland to do every effort to plead its case on the African countries and the rest of the world that it’s the only solution to Somaliland problems.

It is important that Somaliland should be engaged in the dialogue process as this is going to be a historic opportunity for it to convince with Somalia Federal Government to finally allow Somaliland as its neighboring state that can help a lot to Somalia. Therefore, this dialogue is necessary to promote Somaliland’s national interests and to keep Somaliland on course for recognition as an independent state.

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Categories
Africa - General Articles Politics

African Responses To Donald Trump’s Derogatory Comments Vary

(Adrian Kelley)

It’s been a month or so now since U.S. president Donald Trump shocked much of the world by making derogatory comments about Haiti and all of Africa.

He referred to people from these places as coming from “shithole” countries, prompting a great deal of outrage – from his political opponents, from American immigrants and those who support them, and of course from people who actually live in Haiti and Africa.

The White House didn’t deny the comments, and Trump’s best defense was to randomly insist (not for the first time) that he is the “least racist person.” Many disagree.

On the one hand, those who follow international politics can hardly be surprised by outrageous remarks like this from the American president. He’s an extraordinarily controversial figure, not only where his rhetoric is concerned but politically as well.

He is under FBI investigation, and though odds have shifted back in his favor that he will finish his first four-year term, impeachment has become a regular topic of conversation in the U.S. – which in itself is fairly extraordinary. All of this said, however, comments like these seemed to many to be particularly offensive, even for Trump.

Photo - President Donald Trump in White House
Photo – President Donald Trump in White House

The responses from prominent African leaders and commentators, however, have varied.

Kenyan government spokesman Eric Kiraithe had one of the more surprising takes (though one echoed by South Sudan), suggesting that since Trump didn’t single out Kenya the remarks didn’t really apply, and thus Kenya had no problem with them. This prompted the headline that “Kenya welcomes” the language from Trump, which was perhaps a little unfair but still expressed the frustration some undoubtedly felt with the response.

Part of the issue with Trump’s comments is that he seems to lump all of Africa together as if it’s one large country – which ought to indicate that in the mind of the American president his own comments did apply to Kenya too. The same article that quoted Kiraithe also pointed out that African Union chairperson Moussa Faki has expressed alarm and called the comments unacceptable.

Some took a more lighthearted approach, pointing out the utter absurdity of the comments (albeit in a critical manner). Most notably, Kenyan cartoonist Victor Ndula produced an image of a map of Africa as Trump sees it.

Ndula essentially drew a silhouette of the distinctive president with a cutout of the continent in his head, labeling different geographical points with names like “Central Shithole” or “Horn of Shithole.” It’s not particularly funny to those who were deeply offended, but Ndula ultimately did a nice job of turning the comments back on Trump as a form of mockery – which may have been cathartic to some.

And still elsewhere in Africa we saw more direct condemnations. Senegal president Macky Sall said he was shocked and demanded respect; Botswana’s stance was that the comments were overtly racist; hopeful South African leader Mmusi Maimane suggested the comments were an extension of Trump’s known hatred for Barack Obama and his roots.

If anything is clear one month out from Trump’s comments, it’s that the very idea of lumping all of Africa together has been proven foolish. Different leaders and countries have responded differently, and while all can agree that the comments were offensive, there are varied takes as to how damaging or directly hurtful the comments were.

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Categories
Articles Politics Somaliland

What lies ahead for the new Somaliland Cabinet?

A lot of things are waiting for the new cabinet ministers approved by the House of Representatives and sworn in by Somaliland’s Chief of Justice this month.

Somaliland legislators approved the 32 ministers nominated by the new government of President Bihi. With the approval of the parliament, the new ministers can now start working officially.

There are several political, economic and social challenges awaiting the cabinet which took an oath of the office at the Presidential palace in Hargeisa.

The most pressing matters to be faced by the ministers include inflation, poverty, poor healthcare, education, corruption, lack of water in Hargeisa, and tremendous youth unemployment, which are all threats to social stability and peace.

These complex problems will challenge the success of the first 120 target days for the government to start winning the people’s trust.

It seems that the government is facing financial crisis with the decline of Somaliland Shilling exchange rates against dollar.

According to ministerial decree sent to all government institutions by the new finance minister, Mr. Yusuf Mohamed Abdi, stated that 70% of all expenses for the new government have been suspended until the new government budget is approved.

This is going to be the first challenge for the cabinet to perform their operations well, since a month and half already left following the inauguration of the new president, Muse Bihi Abdi in the country.

Photo - Somaliland's new cabinet taking oath
Photo – Somaliland’s new cabinet taking oath

The financial challenges have already impacted government employees’ salaries and incentives since the inflation in the money exchange has not been solved yet according to the government promises amid the inflation is still soaring to the sky  and had made the matters worse.

Life is very complicated for the people because of the exchange rates. The government employees have also been affected by the exchange rate as they are receiving their salaries in Somaliland shillings.

I have observed that the current exchange rate of 1 dollar is above 10,000 Somaliland shillings which is the highest rate ever.

On the other hand, the new government’s top priority should be security and securing the borders of Somaliland since the country reclaimed its independence from Somalia. The government is elected to defend the country from any enemy at any cost.

The cabinet is trained on their duties and responsibilities as well as the function for their ministries to afford any misleading and job-conflict which was a serious issue paralyzed the former administration.

I call for the new government to quickly approve the national budget for 2018 and try to come up with a national strategy for Somaliland youth employment, which can be a threat to the security.

Undertaking all these matters is the responsibility of the cabinet. However if the new budget is not adopted quickly, all those things will end up in smoke. The ministry of finance should hastily submit the annual budget to the cabinet and to the House of Representatives in order to enable the cabinet to work effectively.

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Categories
Articles Egypt Politics Security Sudan

Why Egypt is concerned about Sudan-Turkey deal over Suakin island?

(Mohamed Abdel MaguidEgypt Today)

Egypt has watched very carefully Sudan’s decision to lease its Suakin Island in Red Sea to Turkey as Cairo experiences intense relations with Ankara and Khartoum over several political issues. The deal prompted media outlets in Egypt to question Turkey’s hidden aspirations in the region and the impact of such move on Egyptian interests.

During the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s first visit to Sudan on December 27, Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir signed a decree on handing over Suakin to Turkey for a period of 99 years under the pretext of reconstruction. Erdogan said that Turkey will carry out large-scale restoration work and restore infrastructure on the island.

History and location

Suakin Island is located in north-eastern Sudan on the west coast of the Red Sea, an area of 20 km square, 66 meters above sea level, and about 560 km from Khartoum. For many centuries, Suakin used to be an important trading port in the Red Sea and one of the centers of Islamic civilization on the coast of East Africa. The island is of high importance to Sudan because it lies at the crossroads between Saudi Arabia and Port Sudan—Sudan’s current largest port, located just about 50 km north of the island.

Suakin used to be an important point in the journey of Muslim pilgrims traveling from African nations to Mecca and Medina to perform Hajj (pilgrimage), and for traders from East Asia to Africa and Europe.

Map - Suakin island of Sudan, and Halaib triangle on Egypt-Sudan border
Map – Suakin island of Sudan, and Halaib triangle on Egypt-Sudan border

During the Ottoman era, Turks constructed a mosque on the island for the Hanafi and Shafii Islamic schools of thought.

When the island is handed over to Turkey, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism will restore the Ottoman relics there, including a 300-room caravanserai, or inn. TIKA has been operating on the island since 2011 and already has restored the Hanafi and Shafi mosques.

When the entire restoration project is completed, Turkish pilgrims traveling to Mecca will be able to fly to Sudan to visit historical sites and then go to Jeddah by ship, thus reviving the Ottoman ancient pilgrimage route.

Turkish growing interference

In addition to Turkey gaining temporary control of Suakin, Erdogan also signed 13 agreements covering different fields. Turkey vowed to build a new airport for Khartoum, a free-trade zone in Port Sudan, a port and shipyards for military and civilian ships in the Red Sea, grain silos at various locations, a university, a hospital and power stations. The countries are targeting an annual trade volume between them of $10 billion, up from the current $500 million.

What concerns Egyptians the most was the meeting held between Sudan and Turley’s chiefs of staff. It was reported that the two sides agreed to develop military cooperation.

Since Turkey declared 2005 “The Year of Africa,” it increased its number of embassies in the continent from 12 to 38. It has a sizable military presence in Somalia, where it just opened a base in September. The base, which cost about $50 million to build, now houses 200 Turkish troops and has a military academy that will train Somali officers.

After the Arab Anti-Terrorism Quartet (ATQ) – Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain – has cut diplomatic ties with Qatar for its support of terrorism groups, Turkey sent military troops to a base that can accommodate 5,000 soldiers near Qatar’s capital of Doha in June 2017. Troop strength is expected to reach at least 3,000. Ankara’s support to the Qatari regime caused a tension with Riyadh.

Bashir promised to allocate a shipyard to Turkey, which Sudan will take back when Ankara is done with the rebuilding. There were no details given yet on securing workers, buildings and construction sites in the region, which suffers from attacks.

Turkey claimed that its presence in the Suakin Island would secure access to western Saudi Arabia from invaders coming from the Red Sea.

Turkey also has strong ties with Somalia, another East African country. Turkish soldiers are training the Somali army at a military camp built by Turkey in the capital Mogadishu.

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Categories
Articles Ethiopia Opposition politics Politics

Preventing civil war and state failure in Ethiopia

(Tesfai Hailu)

Opposition groups prone to taking orders from Minnesota and Washington D.C. are once again counting their chicken before they hatch; typically blowing their own horns; yet again announcing the demise of the regime; re-writing EPRDF’s obituary, and at the same time sternly warning the ruling party to hand over power to  God knows whom.

Not too fast, dear latter-day freedom fighters terrifyingly armed to the teeth with laptops, video cameras and radio shortwaves. How soon could you forget that – just a little over 12 years ago – the country was on this very same road?

Indeed, following the 2005 election, the then main opposition leader, the late Hailu Shawel, apparently told diehard supporters in the U.S. that he could easily dispatch a legion of unarmed young people to march to Arat Kilo, and take over Menelik Palace with “only 10,000 deaths” earmarked for the overt mission.

And, although that evidently ended up being more of a political fantasy than a strategic goal, thank heavens people didn’t have to lose their precious lives to quench anyone’s power thirst. What happened afterwards is a recent history to which many of us are living witnesses.

To be fair to Kinjit Party leaders of the time, at least their claim to power was based on a contested election result they alleged should’ve gone their way. In contrast, what’s currently at play, in part, appears to be a reaction of some overly ambitious political hopefuls who claim to have the mandate from “the people” for instant power taking.

The problem, however, is that no one has witnessed “the people” giving their voice to these self-proclaimed public representatives.

There of course are some political leaders and fulltime professional “activists” who conveniently consider protests that – under the mantra of standing up for democracy – subject their fellow citizens to random act of violence; promote ethno-phobia by targeting an “ethnic other” and arbitrarily destroy public as well as private properties tantamount to that of the people’s voice. In contrast, there’s no shortage of citizens who abhor such an act; want nothing to do with this kind of self-destructive conduct, hence crave to see law and order in full force.

Thus, this necessitates careful assessment of a peaceful way out of this political quagmire (certainly above and beyond the scope of this opinion piece, and worth examining further) so as to curve the insanity of sacrificing lives callously; destroying the limited resources available recklessly, thereby exposing the country to historical and contemporary enemies. After all, even a small project with lesser impact on individual or community lives carries out risk assessment before embarking on implementation.

The Risks

The internal and external risk factors identified below should serve as a grave warning for Ethiopians – particularly those who are looking for a quick fix – in pursuit of solving decades and centuries old political and socioeconomic problems.

First, what should be abundantly clear is that wrestling away political power through bullets as supposed to ballots is never going to be a walk in the park. To be sure, if push comes to shove, EPRDF has more than enough firepower at its disposal to protect itself and its constituents. And this is not fear-mongering, but rather an irrefutable fact. When I make this same argument in social media discourse, there are those who try to remind me, “the Dergue too had the biggest army in Sub-Saharan Africa, but you know what happened”.

And, my response to that is, who in his/her right mind wants to return to that era of hundreds of thousands of lives lost; infrastructure and economic resources ruined; arrested development and progress brought to a standstill?! For someone like me who lived through the Dergue’s reign, that simply is too painful to even travel back in memory lane.

Second, there is no unity to speak of in the country in general and among political groups in particular. A famous public protest theme in some English-speaking countries goes, “A people, united will never be defeated!” which, in reverse, means a people, divided will always be defeated. No doubt special political interests have been working overtime and spending sleepless nights to create an “us against them” alliance, but only the politically immature would believe that a unity based on the “enemy of my enemy” short-term interest would last long.

It really doesn’t take a prophet to foresee that the country will be divided into factions led by clan heads, and fall apart. The Greatest Prophet and Son of God, Jesus Christ, also warned 2000 years ago, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand” (Matthew 12:25, NKJV).

Third, selfish demagogues who – from the safety of their western adopted countries and cities of refuge – are counting on the conscription of naïve souls willing to put their lives in the line of fire to be used for human wave attacks so that the power hungry exiles – who are aging; tired of waiting and beginning to lose hope – could return to the country as politicians of the Ahmed Chalabi type, advisors, power brokers, media moguls and the new Robber barons on the block. (It’s worth noting here that Chalabi – who died of heart attack in 2015 – didn’t live to see the reign of peace in Iraq never mind the fruition of the democracy and development he promised to deliver to Iraqis.)

Fourth, corrupt, weak-kneed and delusional self-serving politicians in the ruling party who are willing to pledge allegiance to any contending power, even to pretenders to the throne, in the hope of preserving their political positions and/or wealth they have accumulated, thus are prepared to close a deal with the devil.

Fifth, the way things are now, it’d be fair to assume that the state has no capable public relations and communication medium, which leaves the impression that the government is “fiddling while Rome burns”. It really is boringly unbearable to watch EBC’s business as usual primetime broadcasting of how many hectares of farmland has been cultivated; tons of grain produced; young men and women entrepreneurs have taken advantage of government’s investment policy to make a fortune; how pleased citizens are with public funded development programs … same old, same old. Makes one wonder, have these people ever heard the definition of insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”?!

Meanwhile, news agencies and social media run by opponents and detractors within and outside the country are having a bonanza of transmitting “fake news”; multiplying the unfortunate death of one person (notwithstanding still is too many) by a hundred or more; fabricating or misattributing provocative statements to a public official in order to incite hate and resentment as well as spreading all kinds of rumors and conspiracy theories unabated.

Sixth, the numerous cases of internal conflicts that ended up developing into never-ending civil wars in Africa and beyond. Neighboring country Somalia, for example, has become “shorthand for how the lack of a strong central government makes states collapse into unlivable chaos”, and a haven for warlords, pirates in sea and terrorists on land.

A United Nations’ humanitarian aid official in Yemen is quoted as saying, “the civilian death toll in the two-year conflict has reached 10,000, with 40,000 others wounded”. The BBC also highlighted:

 “… 3 million [Yemenis] are displaced, creating one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises … More than 20 million people, including 11 million children, are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. Some 17 million people do not know where their next meal is coming from and 7 million are totally dependent on food assistance. Severe acute malnutrition is threatening the lives of almost 400,000 children.

At least 14.8 million are without basic healthcare. Only 45% of the 3,500 health facilities are fully functioning. They have struggled to cope with the world’s largest cholera outbreak, which has resulted in more than 913,000 suspected cases and 2,196 deaths since April 2017. Two million Yemenis are currently internally displaced due to the conflict and 188,000 others have fled to neighbouring countries.”

Al Jazeera appropriately gave its May 30, 2017 news analysis on Libya the title, “Libya Today: From Arab Spring to failed state”. In it, the leading Arab news media takes stock of how the once oil rich North African country has turned to a political, economic and security nightmare. Not only has Libya become a living hell for its citizens, but also a shameful slave trade center for blacks in 21st. century Africa.

In the Middle East – a decade and half after Saddam Hussein’s downfall – Iraq is still “ravaged by cycles of warfare, a growing refugee crisis, crippling sectarianism, and the violent spread of the self-styled Islamic State extremist movement”.

When it comes to the conflict in Syria that started as a peaceful protest against the torture of 15 school children, a study conducted by the World Bank titled, “The Toll of War: The Economic and Social Consequences of the Conflict in Syria” laments:

“… The conflict has inflicted significant damage to the Syrian Arab Republic’s physical capital stock (7 percent housing stock destroyed and 20 percent partially damaged), led to large numbers of casualties and forced displacement (between 400,000 and 470,000 estimated deaths and more than half of Syria’s 2010 population forcibly displaced), while depressing and disrupting economic activity. From 2011 until the end of 2016, the cumulative losses in gross domestic product (GDP) have been estimated at $226 billion, about four times the Syrian GDP in 2010.”

While the countries mentioned above are bleeding to death, there are old and new groups and countries with vested interests at close and distant proximity adding fuel to the fire by providing military training, ammunition as well as immoral support. In Somalia’s case, there was Al-Qaida and now ISIS using the country or what is left of it as their backyard for training and a launching pad for terrorist activities.

Iran and Saudi Arabia are waging their proxy conflict in Yemen for “geopolitical, economic and sectarian influence, which is referred by some as “Iran–Saudi Arabia Cold War”.

The UAE and Qatar, “which both played pivotal roles in the Libyan uprising as sponsors of anti-Qaddafi rebels, have emerged as rivals in this grander geopolitical struggle” are accused of waging a proxy war in Libya. “The UAE, along with Russia and Egypt, backs the Tobruk-based government; Qatar, along with Turkey and Sudan, supports the Islamist-led government in Tripoli”.

The crumbling of Iraq came as a dream come true for archenemy Iran which – along with other Middle Eastern and Western countries – is prolonging the sectarian war by supporting a faction for 15 years and counting, and with no end in sight.

Similarly, it’s a public secret as to which countries are promoting political, ethnic and religious conflict, and drooling over the prospect of a civil war in Ethiopia. There of course is Horn of Africa’s failed soft power aspirant Eritrea’s Issaias Afeworki who undoubtedly wishes to see the disintegration of his former county before going to his grave.

Similarly, not only is Egypt – which despicably feels entitled to an exclusive access to Nile water – secretly providing support to enemies of the Ethiopian state, but also openly trying to flex its diplomatic muscle with the objective of testing the water to see how far it can go.

That’s not all, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar have reportedly opened bases in Eritrea under the pretext of obtaining access to the war in Yemen. But independent analysts suspect that there’s more to this than meets the eye. Katheon, an international think thank that specializes “in the geopolitical, geostrategic and political analysis of world events” points out:

“… contrary to the conventional assessment that this is about Yemen, the argument can be made that it’s also just as much about Ethiopia as well. Unbeknownst to many, Qatar is the “ox driving the cart” in this case, and whether they like it or not, the rest of the GCC states will be reluctantly forced to follow its destabilizing lead if Doha decides to throw Ethiopia into chaos.”

Mitigating the risk to prevent a potential civil and proxy war

Risk mitigation, also called risk reduction, is defined as “a systematic reduction in the extent of exposure to a risk and/or the likelihood of its occurrence”. The loss of precious lives; the displacement of individuals and families from their homes and communities; the mistrust and sense of insecurity created between ethnic groups; the socioeconomic harm currently experienced in the country is a tip of the iceberg and just a preview of what is to come if preventative measures are not taken by all stakeholders with the objective of mitigating the risk of war.

The Government:

What current events have proven beyond any shadow of doubt and the Ethiopian government seems to already have come to terms with is the fact that the status quo is simply not working. And internal political reform or policy adjustment – no matter how “deep” – or cabinet / bureaucracy shuffle is not going to cut it. Rather, what’s very much needed is:

a) A fundamental change towards genuine representative democracy. On that note, for instance, it’s long overdue for EPRDF to concede that no single party is entitled to control the House of People’s Representatives as that could be an outcome of a rigged election at worst or a level playing field tilted to favor the ruling party at best.

Thus, EPRDF has to commit to, and make every effort to building a genuine representative democracy. And this starts with forming a truly independent electoral board; providing campaign fund and equitable media access to opposition parties; holding a free and fair election, and being prepared to gracefully accept the people’s verdict.

A political reform of this nature is not only in the best interest of opposition parties and voters, but also the ruling party which doesn’t have to go to a negotiation table as a bee with a damaged wing if things fall apart. But rather as still a strong political player to reckon with, yet ready to give up power if that is in the country’s best interest and happens to be what the people want, which of course should be determined in the next election that is due in two years’ time.

b) Attitudinal change towards opposition parties and leaders has to occur. Painting all political opponents with the same brush of “anti-peace forces, remnants of last regime”, etc. has to stop as it’s clearly a disservice to the country and people. Rather, legally registered opposition parties ought to be viewed as alternative parties with differing political ideology and public policy. And let the electorate decide which party’s platform it favors.

c) Up until recently, the problem with EPRDF was that its politicians appeared to be total party conformists who wouldn’t even address their constituents’ concerns and interests. However, lately, some are going to the opposite extreme of antagonizing their own party. And – as a step in the right direction as this Ethiopian version of glasnost may seem – it wouldn’t be a good idea in the end.

For one thing, it gives the impression that there is a split in the party, which adversaries exaggeratedly try to feast on and manipulate. For another, it will have the domino effect as disparaging one’s party becomes opportunely fashionable, and others follow suit which ultimately could lead to party disintegration, and make governing or orderly transfer of power difficult, if not impossible.

Fact is, even in mature and open parliamentary democracies, there is such a thing called cabinet solidarity and a party line to adhere to with an official whip – whose task is “ensuring party discipline; participation in voting strictly as directed by the leadership and party decisions are carried out” – keeping an eye on parliamentary caucus, for instance.

So, while compromising and consensus building is part and parcel of politics, a party shouldn’t keep feeding carrots to dissenting members. In particular, EPRDF should never appease politicians in its midst that are sabotaging government and endangering citizens’ lives by inflaming ethnic conflict and identity based attacks. In such a case, it’s imperative to use a stick instead, and face the consequences even if that means a ruling party member crossing the floor or (since it’s a one-party parliament) jumping the fence to join the opposition.

d) The other approach EPRDF criticized for is being quick to silence opponents so as to quash a potential uprising. Yet, lately, a government besieged by domestic and international criticism and a seemingly divided leadership has chosen to look the other way when civilians are targeted; citizens lose their lives; public and private properties go up in smoke. Sure enough, this has to stop once and for all if Ethiopia is to continue as a country.

e) The governmental Communication Affairs Office and public media have to be in touch with what citizens expect, which is finding out the truth no matter how unpleasant and painful it may be. In this day and age when millions of people can access social media for news and analysis, it’s not helpful to ignore news events or downplay politically charged incidents as that will only open the door for distorted news to spread like wildfire. For that reason, public funded media have to be on top of their games in disseminating news and information sharing.

The Opposition:

In this case, opposition refers to political party members who genuinely believe their political platform and public policy is superior, hence are convinced that they are better positioned to lead the country than the incumbent. To that end:

1) The ridiculous number of opposition parties in Ethiopia needs to be drastically reduced. After all, there is no that big of a political gap or a variety of ideology (as nearly all claim to subscribe to liberalism and some to social democracy) for parties not to come together. Rather, the problem evidently lies in the fact that everyone wants to be a leader or hold a key role in a given party, while there obviously are no enough positions to go around. So, the alternative becomes opening a new political shop.

This raises the concern, if politicians cannot create harmony and achieve unity while in opposition – where there’s no prestige or perks, at least not as much – how are they going to reach a consensus as government officials wherein so much group and personal interest is at stake?

To that end, the reasoning opposition party members and their supporters often give is that the ruling party is meddling in their internal matters, hence making party unity unattainable. May be so, but parties do all kinds of things to undermine their opponents. Thus, the onus is on each party to keep all internal and external threats at bay and emerge strong, thereby prove to the electorate that it’s up to the job of governing.

2) Opposition parties spend a great deal of time telling citizens on what’s wrong with EPRDF, its policies and practices, but rarely share how they will do things differently. But it’s incumbent on them to come up with a clear party platform in the political and socioeconomic sphere if they are going to be taken seriously as alternative to the ruling party.

3) Opposition politicians running for office tend to sprint either as if every race is a 100-meter run or assume that the final lap for the 10,000-meter run has been rung a lap or a couple of laps earlier. That’s to say, they are always in a rush to get to the finishing line, and it’s about time that they focus on building the capacity to win the race first and foremost.

4) While it’s common for political parties to promote or support a popular and populist agenda, that may not always be the right thing to do or in the best interest of the country. To use a recent incident as case in point, the spread of ethnic hatred and identity based attacks is something all responsible parties should denounce as unacceptable.

Yet, there are some who attempt to give a “root cause” to the xenophobic acts in the hope of scoring brownie points on the ruling party. But this could set a dangerous trend of conveniently tolerating ethnic scapegoating and strife, which will end up taking the country down the drain.

Citizens

Peace, security and political stability in Ethiopia have always been under threat from within and outside the country. What makes the current situation particularly a grave concern, however, is the fact that the rules of geopolitical engagement have changed drastically. There are no longer two superpowers to pick and choose from; form an alliance with, and rely on for protecting the nation state. Consequently, as the Dergue used to claim, oil rich countries that are “drunk with petro dollar” and see themselves as regional powers are behaving badly like new bullies on the block.

This is not “the Russians are coming …” kind scare tactic, but rather a clear and present danger. To conclude by drawing a recent relevant example, the Arab League is trying to ironically accuse Ethiopia of “water piracy and terrorism”, and the Saudi King went a step further with his threat that “a force is needed to prevent water extortion”. But why this, why now? Besides the fact that Arab nations – which happen to be terrorizing and destroying each other – cannot claim the moral high ground to talk about a harm caused by an outsider, it’s been over six years since the Renaissance Dam was launched. So, it would be plausible to suspect that this is happening now because the Arabs are smelling political strife and ethnic division to take advantage of as they have done in Libya, Yemen and elsewhere.

Sure enough, Ethiopia cannot afford to have another civil war, which will open the door for countries in proxy war export trade to turn the country to a failed state. Thus, every Ethiopian has the duty and responsibility to be vigilant.

United we stand, divided we fall. And a people united will never be defeated, indeed.

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Categories
Articles Politics Security Somalia Somaliland

New Political Tactics of Somalia to Destabilize Somaliland’s Independence

In the past 27 years, Somaliland managed to display an enviable measure of peace and stability. It has been pointed out as an oasis of stability in a chaotic region. Somaliland has been a member of UNPO since 2004 and currently, the international community deals with Somaliland as De facto state lacking only international recognition but has qualified for all conditions related to the international recognition.

It is known that Somaliland shares its borders with Djibouti to the West, Ethiopia to the South, Somalia to the East and the Gulf of Aden to the North with a coastline of 850,800 km.  This is a territory of the former British Protectorate whose borders were established by international treaties between 1888 and 1897.

Declaring its independence in 1991, Somaliland initiated a political dialogue with Somalia in 2012 with a view to clarifying their future relationship, but the talks collapsed in 2015 after the federal government failed to carry out what has been agreed and showed a deficiency of good faith and still insisting on the unity of greater Somalia while Somaliland is seeking a recognition from the neighboring countries.

Following the peaceful Presidential election in Somaliland last year, the Somalia’s federal government is using new political tactics to create instability in Somaliland where it sent its federal minister of planning to the eastern districts of Sanaag region, which Puntland claims but belong to Somaliland. The last visit of federal minister to Somaliland territory is a signal of a political intervention for which the Mogadishu administration is conspiring on Somaliland’s political stability in the region.

This is really sparking Somaliland’s patience over Somalia aggression that Somalia is not happy with the Somaliland transition for the democratic election that made the eyes of the world to be on Somaliland and realize the fact of peaceful democratic election was done in a way for which Somalilanders deserve to be recognized and respected, but is should not worth to be paralyzed.

Somalilanders will never accept any political intervention from Farmajo administration.  The new government is elected to defend the country at any enemy when and where it comes because now president Farmajo wants to show the world not to recognize Somaliland due to the developments being done by our country.

In my point of view, the deterioration of this political situation along the Puntland-Somaliland border can be attributed to the absence of social services in the areas.  The new government of Somaliland should engages in carrying out social projects to the far eastern districts of Sool and Sanaag regions, so that the local communities will be tied to Somaliland development proces.

If not offered full attention the federal government will benefit the absence of Social services in those areas.  I do believe that the political situation in the disputed regions can be altered if those residents in the areas receive tangible social services from the government of Somaliland; otherwise, they may impress any politician’s interest from Somalia government even if he is a citizen from residence.

The tour of federal minister to eastern districts in Sanaag region will only cause a full destruction of the talks between the two sides since the current Mogadishu administration is not loyal to the political dialogue to succeed. Let me say, the time of the greater Somalia has left out and nothing can be done to destabilize Somaliland security.

I call the president and his government to take tough action against Somalia’s interference to Somaliland as the political tension has been high for the past several days following the visit of Jamal Mohamed Hassan originally from Sanaag region but works with Somalia came to the region Sanaag on the last Tuesday which embarked a sharp reaction from Somaliland.

According to the Somaliland’s Minister of Defense Esse Ahmed issued a statement underlining that Somaliland is committed to defend its sovereignty while keeping their borders open.  The defense minister who is also from that residence in the disputed parts of eastern region has downgraded the visit of the planning minister and that it will not have a major political significance as he visited small towns including Badhan district.

On Contrary, Somalilanders expressed a disappointment with current tactics used by the federal government to send ministers hailed from Sanaag region to far districts of Somaliland to show the world that Somaliland still belongs to Somalia but this cannot be accepted and will further instigate unrest in a region which is plagued by hostilities. The government of Somaliland should put its military troops on alert and defend its borders from any aggression.

Why Somalia is doing so, is that Somaliland has achieved a relatively significant degree of progress in certain social and economic areas rather than Somalia.  We should know that the federal government is now using political diplomacy to create chaos in order to halt Somaliland recognition following the 2017 peaceful and transparent presidential election and peaceful transfer of power which have been highly appreciated by the international ccommunity.

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Categories
Articles Economy & Business Politics Somaliland

Somaliland: Proposals to Improve Value of Government and Win Trust of Citizens   

(Mohammed Farah)

1. Digging Roots of Mistrust between the Government and Citizens

Somaliland has come across challenges to achieve grassroots of development, functioning institutions and  democratic governance. Lessons learned from different authorities over the last two decades highlighted the need for more efforts to improve quality of administration, effectiveness and efficiency of government and address major development constraints.  Trust of citizens with the government deteriorated recent years. Current Kulmiye authority, spearheaded by Muse Bihi, faces critical challenges to improve value of government and trust among the government, citizens and international partners.

This paper proposes eleven major solutions to improve  trust between government and citizens, good value of government and rapid economic growth, as well as to improve transparency, efficiency and effectiveness, enhance engagement of citizens, strengthen the rule of law, and fighting with corruption. It highlights challenges facing the newly elected government to achieve effective performance of public service delivery and sustained growth of economy and good governance.

Government of Somaliland (GoSL) has been growing from ashes since 1990s. During state collapse and civil wars, only the physical buildings and office blocks did not go below the dust but also social ethics, trust and integrity of government faded away. With the involvement of private institutions, Diaspora and few NGOs, some of the ruined houses were being reconstructed, but the disintegrated system of government  and social norms  still needed repatriation and rehabilitation.

The disintegrated system of government came up  unsatisfactory performance of public offices and discontent of professional ethics, whereas most of qualified professionals went away, retired or ignored. Roles of government in delivering public services; such as education, medicine, water and electricity, were taken by private businesses with unregulated profit seeking practises.

Public value of government weighed down by clan structures, dominant of the dependence to private services, and generally culture of corruption and  tribalism which have been breeding for decades. Discredit of government effected government service delivery and the relationships between government and citizens and provision of a legitimate environment for government and citizens to interact. Clan balance of government  created bad governance and poor democratic fashion of government.

During years of hostility of former Somali government, trust of government  amongst civilians  went down – shaped turn upside down culture of post conflict society in a fragile environment where  citizens lacked trust with the governments.  Distrust of citizens raised with the perception, ”the government is corrupt and non-responsive to their needs”, and so trust of citizens to pay tax, sacrifice for public interests or take part and even invest their land corrupted.

Destitution of public services built up with differences of development across the regions of Somaliland and scaled up difficult  to bridge the divide and disloyalty amongst clans and the government.  Context of distrust instituted an opportunity for bad guys to mislead citizens with misinformation, erecting further blockade of mistrust, and it strengthened assurances  between sub-clans and within sub-sub-clan structures and governance of traditional leaders alongside with government authorities.

Misuse of media further contributes to the mistrust between  the GoSL and citizens. Lack of  proper regulations and limited professions of journalists impaired power of government to track and control them. Growing mistrust of citizens add up to the obstacles of citizens to understand and adhere to policies and strategies of government. Government officials misuse local media in a defragmented and inconsistency manner. They deliver conflicting messages to the public which further aggravated mistrust of citizens because of the unreliable  and rootless discourses.

Disharmony within government structures grounded mistrust of citizens due to poor or lack of: administrative and accountability regulations, public sector protocols, qualifications of staffs, performance monitoring procedures and limited capacity in service delivery.
Missing laws and contradiction of regulations, uncertainty of legal actions, unfinished acts and policies, overlapping and unclear mandates and job descriptions between and within individuals and institutions: all contributes to the disgrace of government. Understanding and Implementation of rules and regulation is the principal measures to achieve engagement of citizens.

Even though GoSL went to the positive direction of development in recent years, still, there is a need to enhance citizen orientation and start valuable communication of government to the public. If the GoSL did not establish active public orientation, the naysayers would inform citizens, benefiting  the gap, and they may raise hysteria of the people to protest against developmental agenda of government as seen in Somaliland.

Good examples of protests to development programs are mining and oil explorations attempts, UAE investments, Somaliland Development Fund (SDF) funded projects, local factories, and many more investment programs. There is a need to regulate media and communications of government to the public, as well as, roles of traditional leaders in governmental issues and politics.

Public orientation is an important pillar for nation’s building and it’s an effective strategy to transform citizens and empower them to adhere government’s policies, abide the law and support the developmental interventions. Similarly, Nelson and Wright (Nelson, 1995), emphasize the citizen orientation is a transformative tool for social change.

Lack of effective public orientation is a major obstacle towards the implementation of rules, investments and development interventions in Somaliland. Citing former government of Somalia, public orientation program was exercised to inspire civilians to play transformative roles in the rapid economic growth in the early 1970s. If we stand the positive corner in that orientation program, it was just public awareness raising plan which successfully resulted national unity; once citizens were participating public development a rapid economic growth was achieved.

Number of professional experts consulted by government is another important foundation for good governance and leadership to do trust of citizens. GoSL used to establish outnumbered temporary committees  with presidential decrees with the aim of seeking solutions for the crucial problems . For example, former president Silanyo appointed more  than 20 committees. Outputs and effectiveness of those committees are challenged by  lack of coordination, availability of time – as most of them were busy ministers – and limited resources, the level of technocrats involved and methods of research utilized.

Additionally, GoSL uses to appoints fired ministers and failed government officials as advisors of the president regardless their competence and qualifications. All those measures of seeking advices lingered into fruitless in solving critical national issues. But, appointment of senior technical advisors for the president and top class technocrats with  high intellectual capacity would improve good outcome of solving critical issues.

2. Scholarly Proposals to GoSL to Engage Trust of Citizens

To attain trust of citizen, good value of government and  rapid economic growth, newly elected government of Kulmiye should necessarily launch  below scholarly proposals:

Transparency and Effectiveness:

GoSL should engage citizens, first, with improving elements of transparency and fairness, principles of effectiveness, identify citizen needs and responding to them.  The value of government and trust of citizens can be enhanced through the effectiveness and efficiency of governments for delivering public services and strives of permanent development.

Establish Thinking Tank Institute:

To achieve good engagement between GoSL and citizens, I hereby propose to establish national Thinking Tank institute which will have mandate of policy formulation and public orientation. The institute would be established to enhance engagement of citizens with valid justifications and reports led by feasibility studies, research, proper designs, effective planning founded with legal documents.

The institute would operate as “Think-Tank and Research Platform,” for the nation’s leading policy making and finding solutions for critical issues.  The institute will engage experts to conduct research, produce publications and provide orientations on national policies and strategies in pursuant to abide the law and acceptance of citizens to the government agenda and development investments. The experts of the institute  may bring in-depth and broader understanding of critical national issues and propose a sound and timely policies and actions for solutions.

Establishment and Enforcement of Law:

Trust of citizens can be achieved when law is above all. New elect president of Somaliland, Muse Bihi, campaigned with the slogan, ”Law should Above All”. The enabling environment, the policies, legislation, power relations and social norms, is the broader system in which GoSL should improve as it facilitates trust of citizens.  Problems of national laws and legalities should be corrected, in so doing capacity of government institutions should be enhanced to establish, disseminate and harmonize regulatory frameworks and sectoral strategic directions to improve understanding of citizens to adhere laws and policies of GoSL.

Integrity and Quality of Leadership:

Clan balance within government did not foster citizen engagement. Participation of professionals and experts in government executive positions can foster performance of government and use sense of integrity to realize quality of being honest and having strong moral principles of public servants.

Employment expertise and qualifications: 

Trust of citizens can be enhanced through uses of experts and qualified personnel. GoSL should appoint all executive and technical positions in compliance to their content of quality, qualifications and experiences in producing positive impacts for citizens.

Regulation of traditional leaders:

For the recent years, number of sultans and traditional chiefs increased. Many of the newly inaugurated ones were attracted by influence and power of prior ones in politics. GoSL should regulate roles of traditional leaders to avoid them spoil trust of citizens and get rid of them to be part of cartels of corruption and misuse of power.

Inclusiveness and Public Participation:

Government should engage citizens with effective public service delivery and equal resources sharing; participation of jobs and development programs which may reflect citizen consultation in decision making process; and responsiveness to their needs would improve trust of citizens.

Zero Tolerance of Corruption:

Fight against corruption is another great measure for GoSL to build trust of citizens, actually, its required to enlist and capture senior officials and elites with legal reinforcements and building abusive perception on corruption  with examples of responding to scandals.

Uses of Information Technology:

Effective uses of information technology to generate rich sources of information for citizens, for example details of governmental projects, next plans and impacts of investment facilities, may build up trust of citizens.  Provision access of Somaliland citizens to monitor government spending and uses public funds would extremely help building confidence  in government. e-Government helps in achieving greater efficiency in government performance by informing citizens with information based on truth, proper researches or studies.

Music and Somali Literature:

GoSL should stimulate originality of Somali music by establishing and motivating music bands, poets, play writers like former Somalia music groups to take leading role in community awareness, restoration of Somali language and literature. GoSL should positively use media and exercise public relations with coproduction of other private TVs, joint publishing with newspapers and  uses of participatory group media.

Proper Uses of Social Media:

Current number of internet using citizens is more than expected – spending time on the Internet has strong influence of understanding of citizens. For example social media  became very popular during past years and thus GoSL should use actively to engage its citizens with proper information.

For instant, civilians can be informed through media for the dissemination of laws and policies and it facilitates them to participate in policy formulation, planning legal documents and setting development programs as it may contribute to the trust of citizens.

Social media can easily result good citizen participation and transparency, as per the case of social media practices  in the United States research fraternity (Obama, 2009) with the pillars of “participation, transparency, and collaboration”; which social media is used to engage citizens on critical state issues.

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* The author Mohamed Farah Abdi (BS, MA) lives in Hargeisa, Somaliland, and can be reached at +252 63 4422847 /634471307 or [email protected]/[email protected], Skype/mfathegreat, Twitte/mfa_thegreat, Facebook/mfathegreat

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Categories
Articles Egypt Ethiopia Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam Politics

Egypt and Ethiopia clash over huge River Nile dam

(Heba Saleh and John Aglionby – Financial Times)

Nothing illustrates the extent of Egypt’s dependence on the Nile as much as an aerial view of the country. Amid vast deserts, the river and its cultivated banks appears a narrow green ribbon snaking its way to the north where it widens into a delta before reaching the sea. This is where the vast majority of Egypt’s 94m people live. The rest of the country is uninhabitable sand.

Now Cairo fears that an Ethiopian plan to build a huge hydropower dam on the Blue Nile, the source of most of the water reaching Egypt, will reduce its access to water. In recent weeks, tensions have risen between Cairo and Addis Ababa.

As the rhetoric escalated, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt’s president, said the Nile was “a matter of life and death” for his country and that “no one can touch Egypt’s share of the water”. Ethiopia retorted that the dam was a matter of life and death for it, too. Khartoum suggested Cairo was angry because the dam would enable Sudan to utilise more water from its own agreed allocation instead of allowing it to flow downstream to Egypt.

In November, talks between the three countries on how best to manage the impact of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam — a $4.8bn hydropower project that will be the largest in Africa and a linchpin of Ethiopia’s plans for economic development — broke down. Ethiopian officials have declined to comment. But Egyptian officials say the three countries failed to agree on the terms of reference of a study commissioned by French consultants on the effect on downstream countries.

On Tuesday, Sameh Shoukry, the Egyptian foreign minister, flew to Addis Ababa for talks. He underlined Egypt’s concerns about water security and said the issue was too sensitive for his country to rely solely “on promises and assertions of good intentions”. He proposed the inclusion of the World Bank as a “neutral party” in the negotiations.

At the heart of the dispute lies Egypt’s fear that, once the dam is built, the country will receive less than the annual 55.5bn cubic metres of water it says is the minimum it needs, especially during the initial phase when the reservoir is being filled.

“The 55.5 bcm we currently use are not enough,” said Khaled Abu Zeid, secretary-general of the Egyptian Water Partnership, a non-governmental group. “Egypt already recycles water several times and uses treated and untreated drainage water and it also desalinates seawater.” Most of Egypt’s current usage of 55.5 bcm comes from the Blue Nile on which the dam is being built.

Ethiopia is adamant that the dam will not adversely affect downstream countries once the 74 bcm reservoir has been filled. But it has refused to officially recognise what Cairo considers its right to 55.5bn cubic metres of water every year. This volume is specified under a 1959 agreement between Egypt and Sudan to which Ethiopia was not a signatory.

Addis Ababa has long argued that its two northern neighbours divided up the entire flow of the river taking no account of its needs. Analysts say Ethiopia’s current stance is partly fuelled by this decades-old resentment.

Long an Egyptian ally, Sudan has now sided with Ethiopia against a background of strained relations with Egypt over a disputed strip of border territory. But experts also point out the new dam will end the seasonal fluctuations of the river and allow Sudan to expand its agriculture.

“Sudan stands to benefit a great deal,” said Salman Salman, editor of the International Water Law Journal. “There have been lots of floods this year, but those will stop after the water flow has been regulated. Instead of having one crop rotation, there will be two or three.”

Work on the dam is already advanced — it is 62 per cent built, says Ethiopia. The Ethiopians are due to start testing the first two turbines next year, with construction in theory set to be completed by the end of 2018.

But the three riparians have yet to overcome their mistrust of each other and agree mechanisms to contain the impact on downstream countries both during the filling period and once the dam comes into operation.

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Categories
Articles Politics Somaliland

​Winning the People’s Trust: The Challenge for Somaliland Leaders

Every government pledges many things to its people before it comes to power. The people elect them based on their pledges, credentials, and sometimes because they simply want to do away with the government in power.

The newly elected government of Somaliland has laid out many pledges to its general public during the election campaigns. Whether those promises could be fulfilled is something the government needs to ask itself. However, one thing that many governments around the world fail to do is to honour its commitments to the people.

The leadership of Somaliland’s new government have to amicably address the challenges of good governance and restore people’s trust and confidence in the system. It have to promote a participatory, accountable, transparent, responsive, effective, efficient, equitable and inclusive model of statehood that can tackle the economic and unemployment crisis head on.

Something new to Somaliland is to hold a consultative meeting for the new cabinet to lay our their plans for the first 100 days in the office. That was unprecedented. It was also commendable that the leadership arranged such a consultative workshop to enable the cabinet to perform their work on the basis of the election pledges.

As far as I know, grasping a consultative workshop for new ministers is the first one to be conducted in Somaliland since 1991. The 4 days meeting was opened by the president on the 23rd, December 2017, was aimed at ensuring the working cooperation and introduction between the new cabinet members.

Photo - Somaliland's new Cabinet holding workshop [Credit - Muse Jeeh]
Photo – Somaliland’s new Cabinet holding workshop [Credit – Muse Jeeh]

It was aimed to lay out the best way for the implementation of the incumbent Kulmiye party’s Six pillar agenda in compliance with the 2nd Phase of the National Development Program, while prioritizing issues, matters and areas as needs may be.
However, the meeting created higher expectation for the people to see that the government may be ready to put the interests of the citizens and the nation first than any other thing as accountability inside the government would be high.

Somalilanders had diverse opinion on the matter. Some underlined that holding a workshop for the cabinet is a sign of dictatorship while others positively supported as a sensible conversation that can prevent from the conflict that paralyzed the former Silanyo administration.

In my experience, it was fairly good and held the attention of the people to see that the new government is ready to discuss what they can perform based on their election campaign.

Roughly, all political analysts expect a government where rule of law is to be the only force that has the means to fight against inflation, droughts, and unemployment which are all seemingly to cause insecurity in Somaliland in the near future. But we the citizens will assess how the government puts into perspective the priorities, collective responsibilities to be implemented in its first 100 days.

In this situation, winning the people’s trust in Somaliland will be based on Kulmiye’s political platform achievement due to a huge anticipation from the grassroots.

Thus, a trust is an essential not just for obtaining resources but also for making government work effectively but now the trust is a challenging sign to Somaliland leaders.

The perception of the people about holding the first consultative meeting for the ministers in Somaliland is now positive but people are willing to see effective implementation of its outcome, otherwise people will show soon their frustration for the government not to win the trust of the citizens.

A government is elected to serve the people. It is elected by the people. Therefore, it has the duty to keep the public informed of the progress, or problems that it faces in fulfilling its promises to the people.

For that reason, it is the responsibility for the head of government and his cabinet to think ahead and move towards a direction of gaining the trust of its people by leaps and bounds.

In a nutshell, doing what is needed to protect and to advance the common good of the people could be a factor that can revive the trust of the people. Trusting in institutions is important for the success of Somaliland government policies, programmes and regulations that depend on cooperation and compliance of the citizens.

The cabinet must avoid the conflict trap but amicably and peacefully solve problems with others and come up with public administration that can prevent from any dishonest and distrust between the leaders and the nation being led.

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