In an unprecedented move that exposes the widening schisms in Somalia’s political landscape, a group of former leaders — including three former Prime Ministers, one former President, and two former Speakers of Parliament — have publicly issued a strong letter denouncing the current actions and agenda of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
The letter, dated 19 October 2023, comes when President Mohamud faces significant challenges, most notably the failed two-month campaign in Dhuusamareeb, Galmudug, aimed at dislodging the al-Shabaab extremist group. Instead of weakening al-Shabaab, the operation ended with the group expanding its territorial control, casting a shadow over the President’s leadership capabilities.
The central focus of the letter was a July conference discussing the recommendations of the National Consultative Council (NCC, or GWQ in Somali). The correspondence was unsparing in its critique of the President’s unilateral decision-making approach, raising concerns about his leadership style during a fragile period for the Somali state. Specifically, the letter questions the President’s ability to effectively address crucial national issues such as unity, power-sharing, constitutional reform, and regional governance, including the role of Puntland and Somaliland.
What is glaringly apparent from this letter is the absence of confidence in President Mohamud’s ability to lead with unity and consensus. The document explicitly urges the Somali Parliament to adhere to its constitutionally mandated responsibilities and warns the President against making unilateral decisions that risk destabilizing the country. These cautionary notes are all the more resonant in the wake of the President’s recent setback in Galmudug, which has visibly weakened his standing.
A seismic shift in the Somali political arena
The alignment of multiple past leaders against a sitting president is not just a critique but a powerful political statement. It underscores the depth of concern among Somalia’s experienced political figures about the trajectory the country is currently on. Their collective call for adherence to constitutional processes and power-sharing mechanisms not only questions the legitimacy of the President’s current course but also reflects broader worries about the stability of Somalia.
The political leaders’ letter serves as a bellwether, indicating a seismic shift in the Somali political arena. When President Mohamud initially took office, his administration had an opportunity to reconsolidate a nation fragmented by long-standing civil conflict and terrorism. Yet, the failed campaign in Galmudug and this recent public rebuke from seasoned politicians offer an incisive critique that could potentially undermine the President’s authority at a time when unified governance is urgently needed to combat terrorism and pave the way for long-term stability.
Vote of no confidence
The call for the involvement of societal sectors and regions like Puntland and Somaliland, historically left on the margins of central governance, speaks to an overarching demand for an inclusive and consultative form of governance. These demands, set against the backdrop of the President’s recent failures, crystallize the growing discord between the nation’s current and former leaders.
It remains unclear how President Mohamud will respond to this glaring vote of no confidence, particularly when his leadership appears increasingly fragile. Will he heed the warnings and shift toward a more inclusive and consultative approach, or will he continue on a path that has clearly alarmed those with intimate knowledge of Somalia’s complex political ecosystem? As the nation watches closely, its future hangs precariously in the balance.