The Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), under the leadership of President Mohamed Abdullahi alias Farmajo, is facing internal challenges that have put into question his ability to remain relevant and lead Somalis to their desired destiny. The current national leadership challenges facing Somalia are a far cry from the nationwide jubilation which met Farmajo’s surprise win in the 2017 polls, premised on electoral reforms and a national yearning for pacification and stabilization in a country that has never known peace since the 1990s. Fast forward to 2020 and the hopes for political reforms under Farmajo are becoming moribund with growing dissent against his leadership.
When Farmajo took power in 2017 he promised the nation that he was going to fight Al Shabaab by all means. Since then, thousands of innocent civilians have died in the hands of the terrorist group especially in Mogadishu. This shows the president has failed terribly in his first agenda of securing Somalia from Al Shabaab militants.
Farmajo has also been edged out from Mogadishu with Al Shabaab gradually gaining control of large swathes of the capital and even government, through sustained attacks of government officials and infrastructure in the capital and entrenching of its sympathisers in the political system. Additionally, President Farmajo’s poor relationship with the Hawiye clan in Mogadishu has also increased mobilization against his administration. The Hawiyes are increasingly calling for the president to quit.
Mogadishu has suffered major terrorist attacks which have claimed the lives of thousands of innocent Somalis. However, in what appears to be utter lack of wisdom, Farmajo’s government has deployed special Somali forces to Gedo region, at the expense of Mogadishu and similarly insecure regions in Somalia. The Gedo region has been relatively peaceful ever since AMISOM troops drove out militias that once had a stranglehold on Gedo and its environs. Therefore, Farmajo’s deployment of the Somali Special forces to Gedo region raises questions on his administration’s sincerity in the fight against terrorism and stabilization of Somalia.
The internal challenges in Somalia have forced Farmaajo to increasingly lean towards his Marehan clan base in order to consolidate support for his political survival. The Marehan largely occupies the Gedo region in Somalia and parts of northern Eastern region in Kenya.
Based on advice from a small clique of allies, Farmajo hatched a plan to diffuse mounting voices against his administration’s shortcomings in Somalia by dragging Kenya into diplomatic tiffs. The goal was to paint Kenya as a destabilising force in Somalia and use this as a rallying call to unify Somalis against a common enemy hence diverting attention from Somalia’s internal problems. The first strike was to draw Kenya into a maritime dispute with Somalia. Kenya was singled out as an expansionist state gluttonly aiming at Somalia’s offshore territory and many Somalis were soon crying foul over Kenya’s alleged “illegal occupation”. However, when the International Court of Justice (ICJ) deferred the case, Farmajo realised he would need another political ruse to shore up his popularity. He instigated another diplomatic wrangle with Kenya over Kenya’s imaginary interference with Somali’s internal affairs under the pretext of Kenya harbouring a Somali fugitive: Abdirashid Hassan Abdinur alias Abdirashid Janan. However, sources indicate that Janan, is actually an ally of Farmajo, and his so called escape from custody was part of an elaborate plan which involved mudslinging Kenya for Farmajo’s political expediency. Farmajo’s security forces had wilfully released Janan and assisted him to make his way to Kenya under armed escort only for the Somali National Army to conveniently follow him a few days later, claiming that he had escaped and Kenya was refusing to repatriate him to face war crimes in Somalia.
To further propagate the narrative of bad blood between Kenya and Somalia, Farmajo created a propaganda team made up of political leaders from his Marehan clan and led by the National Intelligence and Security Agency of Somalia (NISA) Director General, Fahad Yassin. This propaganda machine also includes prominent Marehan politicians from Kenya, a group of whom were recently under fire for visiting Somalia and holding discussions with Prescient Farmajo and the NISA chief, without the Kenya government’s authorization. It is now emerging that the MPs discussed among other things, how to further Farmajo interests in Kenya is including destabilisation of the North Eastern Region and instigation of the Kenyan Somalis against their government. It is understood that Farmajo’s administration and the NISA have already channelled substantial funds to his clansmen based in Mandera including some prominent Kenyan lawyers to sustain the narrative of hatred against Kenya as well as support local protests against the Kenyan government. The NISA Chief, is believed to be in possession of Kenyan identification documents, which were gotten in questionable circumstances.
Kenya has hosted Somalia refugees since the 1990s and for Farmajo to furnish a lie to violate Kenya’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is a far cry from what is expected of good neighbourliness. In international relations, it is a well-known and widely accepted norm that countries should use diplomatic channels to prevent or resolve conflicts with their neighbours since this is more beneficial. Thus the instigation of conflicts with neighbours for internal political survival goes beyond just poor neighbourliness, it smacks of political dis-ingenuity and recklessness, the effects of which can be undesirable and far reaching.