Ethiopia: A Bright Future for Democracy in the Somali Regional State

opinion

On the aftermath of Abdi Mohamoud Omer's murderous rule in early August last year, the region has embarked on a path towards lasting peace, reconciliation and democracy.

In the last ten months, this nascent administration under the leadership of Mustafa Omer started working on a serious of initiatives that were aimed at tackling some of the most trying challenges the region has faced during this period. Some were aimed at ensuring peace on one hand, and the supremacy of the 'rule of law' on the other hand in an extremely volatile region where 'the law' never mattered. Some of those initiatives were also intended to lay the foundations for a governing system where justice and accountability rule supreme in a region where such concepts were viewed as something that is alien.

However, it is those initiatives intended to ensure mutual coexistence and cooperation among the plethora of ethnic groups in the region as well as the goodwill gestures extended to groups that were ironically on the receiving end of Abdi Iley's wrath just a few short months ago that won the administration national recognition and admiration.

In the past year, one of the most defining political victories for #TeamMustafa comes in the form averting the political crisis created by the vacuum left behind by Abdi Iley's capture, and the ensuing total and complete collapse of all administrative structures from Killil to Kebele.

In the unfortunate event that such a crisis was not arrested, it was something obvious to any reasonable observer that the situation was volatile enough that it has raised questions of continuity for this nation as a single and united federal entity. It was a serious fiasco that could have easily galloped the nation into an entrenched civil war that could raise the specter for its total and complete disintegration while also vindicating the doomsayers and ill-wishers at the same time.

These momentous achievements, whether it is the reconstituting of administrative hierarchies that instantly disappeared into thin air in a matter of hours on the infamous August 4th, or reforming the much dreaded security apparatus, or taming the bloody border conflicts that raged for years, or the reforming and rebranding of a hijacked party (SDP, formerly ESPDP), or realigning of an entire regional government towards its original mission whether that is managing development or ensuring the delivery of services, didn't come with the swish of a magic wand 'like Fairy Godmother transforming Cinderella in to a princess'. But, rather took relentless commitment, caution, preservation with a healthy dose of doubt and countless setbacks.

In a similar fashion, strides have been made in the areas of human rights and the expanding of the political space to ensure a smooth and complete transition to multi-party democratic discourse.

Maybe, the fact that the Ogaden National Liberation Front is roaming around the region freely as an independent opposition organization mobilizing its cadres and riling up its base at every turn in a fervor that resembles the peak of a campaign season can be seen as a good example of such strides. Or maybe one can pay closer attention to the story of a traditional community leader who takes up the stage at a town-hall meeting presided by president Mustafa in Wardheer town a few days ago to vent about alleged slights against his tribe. Steering off topic in to what seemed borderline incitement that triggered a forceful and emotional rebuke from the president in addition to the angry hisses and whistles from the entire hall, the fine gentleman cleverly reversed course and attributed all his bad mouthing and lamentable manners to the 'freedom of speech' that they are now so accustomed to in a scene the let everyone broke in to uncontrollable laughter.

However, when it comes to signifying the region's democratic openings, nothing beats the consultative/preparatory meeting, that was expected to be held in Addis Ababa on 23 June 2019, by Abdi Iley loyalists who are planning to form a political party. While most of the people of Somali Region find it abhorrent and a travesty of justice that close aides of Abdi Iley are preparing to launch a political party, viewed from a different angle, this could be seen as a great leap in democratic culture in the region.

Finally, though these and the many other achievements not mentioned here speak for themselves, it is the Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF's) own assessment of the regions that acknowledged this much and more. It was also the overarching conclusion from these assessments that the Somali Region is by far the most tranquil region in addition to being the region with the deepest political reforms.

Ed.'s Note: Mohamed Olad is the Media and Communications advisor to president Mustafa Omer. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of The Reporter. He can be reached at mohamedolad88@gmail.com.

Contributed by Mohamed Olad

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