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Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, whose forces represent the largest contingent of African Union peacekeeping forces in Somalia (approximately 5,000 troops), mediated the Kampala Accord between Somalia’s President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed and Speaker of the Parliament Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden which guarantees new elections to be held no later than August 20, 2012 and the resignation of Prime Minister Farjamo.
This agreement has sparked anger among the people of Mogadishu, who took to the streets in protest for two main reasons: the prime minister's ability to provide hope and some success against militants while at the same time improving governance and institutions.
First, Prime Minister Farmajo, a flamboyant, soft spoken intellectual and Somali-American, renewed hope to bring peace and stability to the country after achieving gains against the radical al-Shabaab group in the latest government military offensives. These forces now claim control over 80% of Mogadishu and have begun to lay siege to the Bakara Market, al-Shabaab’s stronghold of power.
“I am afraid that disbanding the current government and the resignation of its premier will hold back efforts to restore stability and clear away al-Shabaab, and obviously this will be a real chance for them to rearrange themselves and continue fighting against the government,” Mohamed Mohamoud, a political analyst, told Somalia Report.
“It is distressing among the public and soldiers, as their recently high morale has been significantly lowered by this decision whether or not that the Prime Minister personally taken the decision,” said Mohamed.
The most popular current topic of conversation in the capital among ordinary Somalis and politicians is about the new power sharing within the TFG. The people are now asking a number of questions, including: which side the speaker was representing in the power sharing, who is backing the new accord, and if that person represents an opposition group – and if so, which group and who are their allies?
“If the Premier rejected leading a government because he could not select its members independently, I think that he is quite right because, as the saying goes, too many cooks spoil the soup and disagreements could spark easily anytime,” Suleiman Abdi, former military official in Mogadishu told Somalia Report.
He argued that the new deal in Kampala would lead to a setback with regard to what the TFG military has achieved so far. He also suggested that the people would miss having their own elected, active ministers in the Farmajo government.
Secondly, since Prime Minster Farmajo took office last October, the government has shown progress restructuring its main institutions, to include improving the functions of its ministries, the military, and the security forces. These improvements have included the critical distribution of regular payrolls, regulating revenues from income sources such as the port of Mogadishu, establishment of strong government media in spreading its achievements, and waging a successful propaganda campaign against the insurgents. The government has taken strict actions against unruliness among its military that was known for hooliganism and militia-like behavior, sometimes killing civilians for money after martial courts were established. As a result, members of the army were sentenced to death and publicly executed.
The majority of the people have expressed their respect and honor for the outgoing prime minister, particularly for his high hopes for the country, receiving the reputation among the public in few months rather than years.
“I would appoint him the most popular figure in Somalia for the year 2011 and he deserves more than that,” Maryan Ahmed, a female activist in Mogadishu told Somalia Report. “His government did what it could to erase the memory of all the negative things it was known for, including what some people describe as widespread corruption that is familiar among its members,” she added.
Dissatisfaction and predictions of a potential return to the problems of years past are beginning to be voiced by people in the streets who are uncertain as to what could happen next.
Some people are expressing concerns that the ongoing successes against the insurgents may be reversed with a new administration, owing to fears that the military may start to return to its old ways of corruption and poor treatment of the people – especially if its regular paychecks are interrupted by the administration.
Others, like Isse Mohamed, predict that things will fall apart and everything will return back as it was previously and fighting will start again this time, but this time with the al-Shabaab insurgents having the upper hand.
“That is misery and it becomes sequential that things roll back again and again in Somalia,“ he said.
The prime minister has agreed to resign with the condition that the president and the speaker agree upon sharing cabinet posts 50/50 in the yet-to-be formed government, and that the speaker has offered his position a one year extension of the government, in exchange for a new cabinet with positions for his key allies.
The shape of the next government to succeed Farmajo will likely be a coalition government and the soon-to-be appointed prime minister might have less power selecting his cabinet ministers. As a result, the ministers will put a political alliance before the interests of the nation and public and this could lead further setbacks, as Yusuf Osman, a journalist in Mogadishu believes.
He noted that similar movements away from the will of the people led to the crippling of the former TNG government led by President Dr. Abdi-Kasim and later the administration of the TFG under President Abdilahi Yusuf, stating that it was a natural development in Somalia politics that, “Somali presidents, parliament speakers, and prime ministers clash all the time.”