The Somali government led by President Farmajo has written laws, created a format and accepted a return of elections. The promise of one woman, one man, vote. This is tectonic level shift in Somalia politics as a first in 50 years.
We Somalis look to countries whose nascent democratic system came after war be it civil war or still currently engaged in wars against terrorists and extremists as our canary in the mine moment. Afghanistan democracy has currently two camps claiming victory in the last elections. Iraq is facing a massive populist uprising. Both are facing like Somalia an entrenched insurgency led by the terrorist groups. The euphoria of voting for the first time in both those countries gave way to apathy at the concept of electoral democracy.
There is a reason for that. We in the west are good at big picture analysis. Let the people vote in their leaders. Democracy pulled post war Europe and Japan into prosperity after all. We in the west play very well when it comes to dealings with the palaces of Afghanistan and Iraq. What we do badly is actually engage the streets. The streets where mainstream is at. Failure to teach democracy to the masses led to dysfunction.
Is Somalia to face the same morass?
The failures in Iraq and Afghanistan haunt Somalia. Where did we go wrong in the west master plan for both countries and how will we repeat it in Somalia. After all it is our foreign aid that will pay for that vaunted election in Somalia.
The solution is resources to teach the value of democracy. The process of voting is easily understood by all. But the actual conditions, norms and procedure of democracy is alien to the Somali individual. They have not experienced it in over 50 years. Majority population under 20 years old, most illiterate and very tribal. In other word’s this election will lead to Somalis voting along tribes and tribal coalitions. There is nothing wrong with that but do the streets understand what it takes to have a democracy. How to get a government accountable to the people. Will the Somali individual accept a winner after an election when their candidate loses to run government. We have not accepted a winner to lead for over 30 years of strife. Will the quota of wanting 30% women participation met, when truly it should be 50% because our Somali women held Somalis together when us men went about butchering all. Will the non-violent religious establishment have a say and can Somalia still remain a secular democracy. Do the people understand what it takes to make policy and laws when we are now dominated by personality politics of tribal leaders. How are the issues of regional government autonomy decided and federal authority. Will minority tribes like Somali Bantu, Barawa and Madiban get elected. What role does civil society play, is there a structure to have them have a say. These questions are not fully understood by the Somali electorate. I watched as Millions of Iraqi and Afghani citizens voted with joy and pride in their elections. The west did not invest in educating their masses to the ethics required for a democracy to flourish. The equivalent of putting a lifelong farmer on a boat and a net and wishing him luck fishing. Understanding rightfully that giving just fish is not sustainable. Nor is under training for roles sustainable. We today have not even started educating Somalis on democracy.
The revolution democracy brings in Somalia beats Al Shabab. Which has gone on record claiming Democracy is unislamic. Voters will be apostates according to their Takfiri doctrine. The true revolution is when millions of Somalis vote for the first time choosing their own leaders. Unlike Al Shabab who nominated themselves leaders by grenades, bombs, bullets, knives and fear. The process of defeating them is about to go populist by participation of one man, one woman voting. Without the necessary evolution of minds towards understanding democracy. What the people need to know to make it work. We in the west have set up Somalia to fail in the nearby future.
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