President Farmajo let down Somalis. Let’s not allow him to surrender the country to Ethiopia.

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MOGADISHU – Somalia is lucky to have survived decades of chaos and lawlessness. But it may soon run out of that luck if Somalis don’t stop President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed “Farmajo”, who is adopting and implementing policies that are detrimental to the nation’s existence, in his track.

President Farmajo allowed Ethiopia to pour its citizens into the country. He opened Somalia’s skies for foreign planes, including the Ethiopian Airlines and American drones, to kill at will and profit off the misfortune of Somalia, which doesn’t have a single national carrier on which government officials can fly.

The administration of President Farmajo and Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire is also eviscerating the Legislature and the Judiciary by trying to stuff the two key institutions with its lackeys and loyalists. It’s deliberately ignoring the worsening security problem in the country and creating more tensions in regions across the country by pitting regional politicians and, sometimes, communities against one another.

To say that the Farmajo-Khaire administration is a disappointment is an understatement. In a span of nearly two years, President Farmajo changed from the most popular president to the most despised and loathed leader the nation ever had. President Farmajo and his right-hand man, Khaire, have let down Somalis who believed their promises. Now let’s not allow them to surrender the country to Ethiopia. Let’s not allow criminal foreign entities to operate inside our country, especially at the Halane complex, the vice enclave and the only Guantanamo Bay outside Cuba.

During his campaign, President Farmajo vowed to root out corruption and eradicate, within two years, al Shabab, but the anti-peace outfit still continues to carry out attacks anywhere its fighters wish to target across the nation, the latest being the killing of the 12th April Division commander, Gen. Omar Adam Diriye, and his deputy, Abdi Ali Jamame, after their car ran over a landmine planted by the militants. The outright theft of national resources also continues unabated.

When a parliamentary committee recently unearthed a massive loss of $36 million, President Farmajo’s and Prime Minister Khaire’s knee-jerk response was to silence the team by first bribing it and then, when that didn’t work, illegally disbanding them through the deputy speaker.

The Farmajo-Khaire administration was already caught with its hand in the cookie jar: It had bought off lawmakers to oust former parliamentary speaker, Mohamed Osman Jawari, who was a thorn in its flesh, and installed an ally, Mohamed Mursal Sheikh Abdirahman, in his place. President Farmajo and Prime Minister Khaire, who are accustomed to telling barefaced lies, are busy doing anything that would help them — jointly or separately — win the 2020/21 elections by stacking the decks in advance.

“I will change the political culture in which government leaders used to unnecessarily travel (to foreign countries) and waste national resources and time,” President Farmajo said during his nationally-televised campaign speech in 2017. “It’s a bad culture. Because there’s a foreign ministry, which is required to travel around (the world). The president ought not to travel three times in a month. No. That culture, therefore, should be stopped.”

President Farmajo didn’t heed those words. Since 2017, he has paid dozens of visits to different parts of the world. In November alone, he was away for more than a week and traveled to four countries.

Under the stewardship of Farmajo and PM Khaire, Somalia is free-for-all: Foreign countries carry out aerial attacks that kill extra-judicially Somalis, including civilians, under the guise of fighting terrorism. Foreign forces rape and kill Somalis with impunity and sadly the Farmajo-Khaire administration doesn’t say or do any meaningful thing about it. This week, the government has even shamelessly rejected to participate in a Voice of America program about the abuses, including rape, that take place inside the Halane complex.

Farmajo’s hands-off approach has cost the country dearly because Prime Minister Khaire, who was an oil firm executive before joining politics, has smartly taken advantage of that vacuum to make quick bucks and coordinate with international oil- and gas- companies to try to loot the yet-untapped resources of the nation. Somalis expected President Farmajo to demonstrate his leadership skills and be a steady hand on the tiller, not a figurehead.

The two leaders’ style is already dispiritingly uninspiring, if not a betrayal and erosion of our core national values. They still keep their foreign passports as if Somalia’s documents are worthless. The message they’re telegraphing to the public is: We’re upholding our foreign oaths, not the Somali one.

President Farmajo constantly harps on the Somali ego, but his actions and utterances are killing this very thing he rebuked others for abandoning it.

What is happening in our country is very unfortunate. The motto of President Farmajo and Prime Minister Khaire is “life and peace”, but it’s increasingly turning out to be “death and destruction” — and the goings-on in Baidoa city nowadays is Exhibit A.

If President Farmajo isn’t feeling the suffering of the Somalis whose lands, seas, resources and rights are being abused and looted daily by foreign countries and entities, how can he claim to represent Somalia?

Farmajo ran on a plank of restoring Somalia’s dignity and scaring away foreign meddlers, but after nearly two years in office, one of his most memorable, if treasonous, legacy could be surrendering the country to Ethiopia in the name of “economic integration.”

The man got his priorities wrong: He wants the African Union peacekeepers to leave the country and bring in Ethiopians and Eritreans, ignoring the fact that Somalis are already fed up with the presence of foreign forces in their country.

In his recent visit to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, he naively asked an audience: “I want someone to tell me what’s wrong with that (economic integration) policy.”

President Farmajo is yet to disclose the full details of the much-vilified trade deal he struck with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in June. He’s yet to bring that dubious agreement to the floor of the House for debate. Because he knows deep down that lawmakers will vote it down. The question is: If he’s not confident of his policies and believes that Somalis will reject his international agreements why does he keep striking them in the first place?

President Farmajo may not remember them well, but his own statements are enough to bring him to his senses.

“Neither this country nor its people is for sale,” he told our lawmakers before his election. “We inherited it from our parents and fathers, and our children will inherit it from us.

“It’s priceless,” he said.

President Farmajo’s policies, which aim at surrendering our seaports to Addis Ababa and opening Somalia’s borders to allow millions of Ethiopians flood a country of 15 million, is beyond the pale.

It’s inconceivable why President Farmajo doesn’t want to build Somalia and strengthen its institutions, including the army and the spy agency. Begging a former enemy, Ethiopia, to save Somalia is a cruel joke.

Ironically, President Farmajo said as much before he’s elected.

“When you accept your responsibility, you can reach a solution,” he said. “But when you blame others, you will wait others to solve your problem – and they will not solve it for you.”

Can His Excellency tell Somalis how inviting new Ethiopian troops solve Somalia’s problems? How can a broken Somalia economically compete with Ethiopia, a relatively stable nation of about a 100 million? Isn’t our president aware that the playing field is already tilted against our nation, which has little to export to East Africa’s fastest growing economy.

President Farmajo seems to think — delusional as he’s — that he can rule Somalia with the help of Ethiopian and Eritrean troops. He needs to be made aware that if he insists on inviting Ethiopians to the country, he will suffer the same fate of President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, who brought in Ethiopians to Mogadishu but lost the support of his people who eventually ejected the foreign invaders.

Despite their recent rapprochement, Somalia and Ethiopia will always be rivals: While Somalis want to have a strong nation that can keep Ethiopia at bay and independently run its own affairs, Ethiopia, which illegally occupies a Somali land since the 19th century, would want a weak Somali nation that can easily be manipulated. The two nations’ rivalry may not be a real zero-sum game, but it’s an antagonism in which none of them is willing to accept the other to become the King of the Hill in the Horn of Africa region.

My advice to President Farmajo is: Your vaporware won’t fly. Let me say this: The emperor has no clothes. You’re like the naked emperor and you need a honest adviser to tell you that bitter truth. Somalis have no inclination to share their seaports and resources with others, even if you sign millions of agreements with Ethiopia and other foreign countries.

Dismissing Somalis who oppose your policies as “angry politicians”, will not wash. Nor will it silence critics, including the media. When I am criticizing the President, I am not doing it because I am angry with him or that I am being prodded by others to malign him. I am just pained by the negative policies of Farmajo-Khaire administration that are threatening the future of our nation.

When President Farmajo ripped the policies of former President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, no one has called him an angry politician. Rectifying the government’s mistakes through peaceful means and constructive criticism is not a crime. It’s, in effect, a national calling.

Our leaders’ best argument currently is: “Unlike previous administrations, we work together without bickering.” That’s not a favor. They must work together. Because if they can’t get along with each other, they will be booted out by our parliamentarians.

If President Farmajo were honest enough, he would have publicly admitted that his administration had failed in its duty to deliver “peace” and “life”. He would’ve also stopped traveling around the world and calling for more foreign forces.

Instead of reconciling Somalis, the Farmajo-Khaire administration is tearing the country apart through its dictatorial and anti-Somali policies. This administration has antagonized large segments of Somalis when it sent troops to the houses of an opposition leader, Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsame, and a senator, Abdi Hassan Awale “Qaybdiid”, with whom it didn’t see eye to eye. Its decision to hand over a Somali citizen, Abdikariim Sheikh Muse “Qalbi-Dhagah”, to Ethiopia, a first in the nation’s history, has also obliterated any other support it may have had among the wider the public.

President Farmajo doesn’t deserve to lead Somalia at this juncture. If his candy-coated campaign duped lawmakers into electing him, his actions should alarm the public. He doesn’t have the political aptitude, consistence, reliability, tolerance and patience necessary to be the leader of a nation still mired in chaos. A president who is oblivious to the intricate web of conspiracies being woven by the enemies of Somalia doesn’t deserve to be near the nation’s top job.

I am wondering how a President who allows his country to be taken advantage of by others and lays the foundation for its demise can be allowed to serve his full term. Somalis should peacefully and in a popular uprising remove this man from the palace.

Somalis should rise up and resist the Farmajo-Khaire administration’s destructive policies that are destroying the country. The Somali nation doesn’t, in actual fact, exist to talk of any economic integration with others. The nation has no functioning institutions or strong army or capable intelligence agency that can monitor foreigners’ movements in its territory.

I warn Ethiopians and Eritreans against sending troops to Somalia. Somalis are ready to take on any new foreign force in their country. I also call on the Somali people and their government to do everything possible to evict the African Union peacekeepers, who continue to rape our women and girls and kill our people with impunity.

Somalia, the ever unconquerable, will not accept to be a theater of war for foreign forces. After nearly three decades of chaos, Somalis are determined more than ever before to be the masters of their fate and the captains of their souls.

By Abdibarre Yusuf Jibril, Jibril is a Mogadishu-based politician and former member of parliament.

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