By Abdi Ali
Wednesday May 11, 2022
Khaire and Farmaajo are joined at the
hip. It is why a Khaire presidency will be a calamitous outcome for Somalia.
What does Khaire stand for? Does he believe
in the rule of law and good governance? Does he have deeply-held values for tolerance,
decency and doing the right thing? Is he someone who would put the country’s
interest before his own? Or is he someone who just wants power without
responsibility, laser focused on predation rather than nation-building? We do
of course know the answers to these questions, thanks to Khaire’ record in
The remarkable aspect of Khaire’s candidacy
is not so much that he wants to be the next president of Somalia, as the fact that
he is someone looking for a business opportunity to monetise, not a country to
lead. It is therefore unwise to overlook the underlying similarities between Farmaajo
and Khaire: one is consumed by autocratic envy with a penchant for tyrannical vindictiveness
and was using Khaire as his dependable foot soldier; the other believes in his
own misinformation, holds values that are deeply conflicting, swims in politics
of consigliere and will act on his worst corruption instincts at the expense of
his country. It was a partnership that tipped Somalia over the edge. If
successful, the corruption and impunity risk Khaire represents will further
damage Somalia immensely.
Start with Khaire’s claim that he was a paragon
of good governance when he was a prime minster. We all know how he kneecapped “independent”
voices and institutions by creating a double-hatting system for minsters to the
point Somalia’s parliament became the extended arm of his office. One of the
hardest things to square with Khaire’s narrative of being a reformer is how he
systematically undermined every element of checks and balances within the
government. By creating direct and corrosive conflicts of interest between the
different arms of the government, corruption thrived while accountability and
good governance floundered. His time in office became a byword for politics of consigliere
on an industrial scale.
On the economy, Somalia became a graveyard for
reform plans. If one wants to know Khaire’s priorities while in office, look no
further than how the country’s budget was spent. More money was allocated to
his prime minister’s office than the Ministry of Health – a ministry that is
supposed to support millions of Somalis battling diseases, pandemic and
terrorist atrocities. On the economic development and reform front, Khaire
maintains another historical fiction here. Somalia is still at the bottom of
the international corruption index and has been so during his time as a prime minster;
the country does not have a national currency; not a single school, hospital, clinic
or even ambulance was opened or purchased during his time; millions of the
annual budget were siphoned off under the cover of spurious spending lines in
the government’s budget – just look at “travel
expenses” and “Other expenses” lines in the country’s budget and the millions
spent; desperately needed disaster relief funding was misappropriated; the
budget books were never closed during Khaire’s time in office. In other words,
he personalised the government to the point where corruption became rampant and
pervasive, while NGO-style “Qawda Maqashii” , supplemented with meeting
selfies, were used to create the
illusion the country was on the path to prosperity.
On debt relief, no notable reform pillar was
ever implemented. No anti-corruption commission; no independent judiciary; no
independent central bank; no accountable tax authority; a servile parliament
full of double-hatting government minsters waved through all sorts of corrupt
deals. Financial accountability and policy-making took
a backseat to personality cult in which Khaire – the “dear leader” – was
running the show.
On Mogadishu, Khaire is remembered for presiding
over the current “Mogadishu Penalty” – the deadly state of affairs in which the
people of Mogadishu became politically asphyxiated; overtaxed by the government,
while shaken down by terrorists; and die in unspeakable horrors which are neither
investigated nor prevented. Under Khaire, the city became blockaded into
quarters, paralysing the lives and livelihoods of millions. To him, being a
prime minster was a monetising opportunity, rather than something that decides
on matters of life and death. He was incapable of even doing the bare minimum
to secure Mogadishu, let alone anywhere else in the country.
On the wider issues of security, some of
the most egregious brutality happened under his watch. Politicians were denied
basic constitutional rights and silenced. Government machinery was used to
attack political opponents and anyone seen to be a political threat.
Khaire’s part in the Qalbi Dhagax rendition
embodies the odious character of someone devoid of the core values of
patriotism, or even simple fair-mindedness. By facilitating political
oppression across borders, and labelling millions of Somalis as terrorists, he
demonstrated his willingness to do anything, even if that means the ultimate betrayal
of our nation. The fact that he is yet to account for these actions or publicly
apologise for what he did shows a level of callousness that is hard to imagine.
This was not an aberration but a glimpse of the character of the man who now
wants to become Somalia’s next president.
A dangerous aspect of Somali politics is
the willingness to consider anyone as the best alternative to the incumbent. It
is why Khaire sees an opportunity now. It will be a profound mistake not to heed
the lessons of the past five years. Khaire is as much to blame for Somalia’s descent
into mayhem as Farmaajo is. Given the chance, he is likely to prove positively
Somalia is crying out for a better
president – one that can heal the country and put the nightmare of the past
tyrannical five years behind. Khaire’s record is an important and timely
warning, reminding us why Somalia is where it is today and why there is no
distinction between him and Farmaajo.
Indeed, all the more reasons he should not
be trusted with Somalia’s future.