Somaliland is now in a turning point. It is taking off from a status to another. Its homegrown democracy proves itself as it enabled Somalilanders to have continuous free and fair elections. Three out of the six elections were presidential. The fifth president is now in the making. After a very short while, the National Electoral Commission is to announce the result, which will be taken forward to the supreme court for validation. Then the new president elect will take a month of transitional period and then will be inaugurated as the President of the Republic of Somaliland.
Somaliland has succeeded as a committed, growing democracy from which the whole Africa particularly the eastern Africa should learn. But that is NOT enough. As a matter of fact, Somaliland now needs to think twice! It needs to prepare itself for coping the fierce challenges that surely will come from two aspects: internally and externally. Internally, there are impediments in place including economic crisis, poverty, clan tendency, recurrent droughts, etc. External factors may be about dealings with the international actors including the Somalia rivals, Horn of Africa actors, Arab world and the west partners. The geopolitical reality of Somaliland demands a great deal of strategic communication, sound leadership and robust policy delivery.
Nevertheless, there are basically four facts that need the contemplation of any foreign policy to be devised by the new president:
- the wider region in which Somaliland is embracing its peace and democracy is struggling with conflicts, insurgencies and political instabilities. This is a fact to be considered;
- the feeble, imported so-called government in Mogadishu is proving itself as a foe interested in hindering Somaliland from being accepted as a sovereign by the international community.
- the competing African and Arab interests in the region pose complexities that cannot be overlooked in any agenda to be drawn by the new president’s government.
- there are perhaps changes of interests in the region shown by the international partners including US, UK and EU.
The new president has already a critical work waiting for him in the office. Without four elements, he cannot meet the expectations:
- Robust governance
- Smart strategy
- Competent team (the right people in the right position)
- Sound, enabling and strong leadership.
Therefore, with those four elements, Somaliland can be made great again. The fifth President can be a great leader which the people of Somaliland can kindly remember for the many years to come!!!
A Commentary co-authored by:
Saeed Mohamed Ahmed & Eng. Abdillahi Ismail