The Case of the Vanishing Opposition
Mogadishu, Somalia (SOMALI AGENDA) – The electoral victory of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on September 10th, 2012 in Mogadishu was in many ways a historic milestone in the history of Somalia. Not only was this the first time in more than 40 years that legitimate elections successfully happened within the country, it also marked the first time a political underdog toppled established heavyweights in attaining the country’s top post.
It also coincided with a time of renewed popular optimism, with the Al Qaida affiliated terrorist group Al Shabab being driven from much of the regions under its control and the International Community showing considerable willingness to help Somalia resuscitate itself after decades of demoralizing social strife.
On his part, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud showed significant indications that he hoped to move the country forward and he abundantly demonstrated this by nominating a Prime Minister and a lean cabinet of technocrats. It was a government that was vastly welcomed by the general public and the President was seen as someone that could curtail the strategic manipulations of regional countries, especially the Kenyan objective to create a buffer zone on Somalia’s southern border.
This was matched by attempts to reinvigorate Somalia’s historic relations with the Arab World and the West. The recognition of the Somali Government by the United States on January 17th, 2013 was seen an early and decisive achievement by a government that was only few months old. Somalia’s inclusion in the Cotonou Agreement an African and European Union partnership that focuses on the eradication of poverty and sustainable development and the creation of the New Deal Compact which attempted to reconstruct and shape the post-war Somalia were also similarly massively welcomed by the general public.
Despite these crucial achievements, the government faced criticism and opposition by a band of discredited political failures. It was an opposition sustained by Kenya in exerting pressure on the Somali government aimed at shaping domestic Somali policies especially in the Kismayo region. Notwithstanding initial resistance, the Somali government quickly succumbed to the Kenyan and IGAD intimidations. Led by Farah Sheikh Abdulqadir, a powerful and a top decision-maker in President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s inner circle, the government begun a process of accommodating Kenyan and IGAD dictates.
The recognition and endorsement of the Kenyan-backed Ras Kamboni militia group which the government initially opposed, as the legitimate voice of the people in Somalia’s Jubba Valley Regions was the beginning of a disturbing trend of humiliation as was the sacking of the country’s Prime Minister. Since then, by design or by fate, government of President Hassan Shiekh Mohamud has either isolated or accommodated virtually all of its political opponents.
Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke
Former Somali Prime Minister under President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed who served from 2009-2010, together with his defense minister Mohamed Abdi Gandi, widely considered the architect of the Jubbaland project with the backing of Kenya. Since the election of President Hassan Shiekh Mohmud, Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke has been a vocal opponent of the government and has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to undermine and delegitimize the Somali government.
As part of a strategy of accommodating the opposition, on July 2014, Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke was named the Somali ambassador to the United States. Again, on December 17th, 2014, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud nominated Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke as the country’s new Prime Minister for the second time.
Ali Mohamed Ghedi
Former Prime Minister, most notable for advocating the Ethiopian invasion of Southern Somalia in 2006. Since his sacking by the late Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed for incompetency and theft of millions of Saudi Aid Money. Prime Minister Ghedi has led a private life in his lavish property in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi. The election of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and the ensuing opposition from the Kenyan-backed Jubbaland group, provided Ali Mohamed Ghedi sufficient opportunity to reenter the political scene by positioning himself as an opponent of the government.
As part of the government’s accommodation tactics, Ali Mohamed Ghedi was appointed a presidential advisor and has since morphed into a supporter of the government. SOMALI AGENDA understands that the former Prime Minister has ambitions of leading the upcoming Hiiraan and Middle Shabelle Federal Member State as its first President.
Yusuf Garaad Omar
Former head of the BBC’s Somali Service for many years, Yusuf Garaad Omar pursued a failed campaign to win the country’s presidential elections in 2012. Since then, he has joined the Kenyan-backed Jubbaland group and became a vocal opponent of the government. In 2014, as part of the government’s plan to serve the opposition, Yusuf Garaad was appointed a media advisor to the Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
Mohamed Abdi Ghandi
A geologist by training and former Defense Minister for the first cabinet of Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke in 2009-2010. Along with Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke, considered the architect of the Kenyan-backed Jubbaland project and a vocal opponent of the government of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. With the ascension of his political ally Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke as the country’s Prime Minister, Mohamed Abdi Ghandi is certain to stage a political comeback and is a top contender for the Presidency of Jubbaland later this year.
Abdullahi Sheikh Hassan
Chairman and founder of the Peace and Democratic Party, Abdullahi Sheikh Hassan and former critic of the government. He was arrested and claimed to have been tortured in prison by the government of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in 2014. Recently named as the minister of commerce and industry in Sharif Sheikh Hassan’s Interim Southwest Administration.
Abdullahi Jama Ilkajir
Former Puntland interior minister and another critic of the Somali government. Recently named Somali Education Minister by Prime Minister Abdirashid Sharmarke.
Abukar Abdi Osman
Former President of the unrecognized Shabelle State. Relinquished his presidency and was named into the cabinet of Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke as the Minister of the environment and Livestock.
Aideed Ilka Hanaf
Chairman of the Supreme Court of Somalia. After a prolonged battle with Somalia’s Powerful Justice Minister Farah Sheikh Abdulqadir, SOMALI AGENDA understands a motion has been set in place to sack Aideed Ilka Hanaf once the cabinet is approved by the country’s parliament.