SOMALIA: Growing Pessimism about the Direction and the Leadership of the Somali Federal Government [OP-ED]

The nature of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s administration is a growing concern for many leaders in Somalia and the region, according to political leaders and Somalia observers. These leaders suspect that the Mogadishu-based government is acting in its own narrow interest, with little regard for the long-term stability of Somalia. The growing pessimism about the administration has diminished the president’s stature within Somalia and with regional leaders, and has negatively impacted his government’s efforts, according to senior diplomats.

It is important to point out that, since taking office, the current government in Mogadishu has made little progress on both political and security issues. Instead, the government has wasted valuable time on internal political and clan issues that have exacerbated deep fissures, and is undermining the progress needed to stabilize Somalia. The government’s efforts have also alienated clans and sub-clans in Puntland, Somaliland, Galmudug, Hiiraan, Shabelle and Jubaland, as well as the governments of Kenya and Ethiopia, which are concerned about the government’s failure to tackle the terrorist groups responsible for the growing violence and instability across Somalia and the Horn of Africa.


Despite mounting failures, some leaders from the international community, regional governments and Somali political leaders were hoping that the selection of a new prime minister and a possible technocratic cabinet could potentially salvage the remaining three years of President Mohamud’s term. However, reporting from Mogadishu and discussions with Somalia experts, including some who are advising the government, suggest that the upcoming cabinet will likely not change the current government structure or bring about reforms that are badly needed for tackling growing insecurity, corruption and political paralysis.

According to senior Somali officials, Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed is expected to announce his new government within the next few days. The new cabinet is likely to disappoint many Somalia observers, as well as the international community, and will represent a missed opportunity for the government to show that it is serious about reforms.

Reports indicate that a majority of the new cabinet was selected by the president and his senior staff, with minimal input from the prime minister. The cabinet will probably not include credible political or security experts, academics, opposition figures, or prominent business and Diaspora leaders. Instead, the president is expected to retain four ministers from the recently dismissed government. The selection of the new cabinet is a reflection of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s micro-management style and clearly demonstrates his administrations failure to understand the many challenges facing Somalia.

The returning ministers will probably include Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Fawzia Yusuf Haji Adam, Minister of Interior and National Security Abdikarim Hussein Guled, Minister of Defense Abdihakim Mohamoud Haji-Fiqi, and possibly Minister of Information, Posts and Telecommunication Abdullahi Elmoge Hersi.

What is concerning to many Somalia observers is that these ministers played a major role in the previous administration’s failures and are not seen as part of the solution. These ministers failed to deliver on the institutional reforms needed to reconstitute credible government agencies and stabilize the country. Other Somalia experts are troubled by the new ministers, which will include many unqualified individuals with little or no political or security experience, former ministers and political opportunists. A majority of the new ministers have no political muster, even within their clans or sub-clans, and are seen as part of an effort by the president and his allies to marginalize growing opposition to his government.

The perception of the Mogadishu-based government is changing drastically. The international community deemed the 2012 Somali elections to be successful, but the election did not resolve the key challenges facing the country. Political grievances and attempts by allies of the president to marginalize opposition political figures, clans and sub-clans from Lower and Middle Shabelle, Hiiraan and Juba have worsened the situation and are exposing and reinforcing deep historical divisions. At the same time, Mogadishu-based political factions allied with the president have been actively undermining the 2012 constitution and are selectively applying the federalism statutes, according to reports. These political conflicts have sparked violence in Central and Southern Somalia, and are bringing about instability and significant security challenges for the government.


The new prime minister and cabinet will likely not have the impact that many Somali observers have hoped for. The new cabinet is a continuation of the same deficient, inexperienced and corrupt administration, and will do little to address the key challenges facing the government. Humanitarian, political and security conditions will continue to deteriorate across south-central Somalia, as the government will fail to address the growing problems it faces.

Unless the international community imposes significant reforms to define the future political and security structures, and limits the president’s unconstitutional power grab, the current Mogadishu-based government will continue to operate the same way and will be a direct threat to the country’s nascent democracy, and its actions could potentially slip the country back into the clutches of a dangerous civil war.

Many in Somalia had hoped that Hassan Sheikh Mohamud would bring stability to the country, but after a year in which the al-Shabaab insurgency has grown stronger, the population has grown disillusioned with his administration. Without a political reconciliation process, Somalia will not likely come out of these twenty-plus years of perpetual crisis. The Somali Federal Government needs significant reforms, and its leaders need to sit down and have a dialogue with the political opposition leaders and Somali experts they have sidelined ever since the 2012 elections. The government must widen its umbrella and welcome other groups into the government, or it will face growing internal and external opposition.

The author of this article is Abshir Yare.


  1. Suuban says

    Let us celebrate with the achievements of the nation that is recovering from a many years of bloody civil war. Churchill, Roosevelt and Lincoln led nations through bloody wars. They all had one common goal, “the creation of democratic and united nation”. they succeeded!

    This is my goal too and here is what I say about your article, in which in my opinion may contribute to destruction and demoralization of the nation my friend!

    Democracy in the political context is defined as “a government in which the supreme power is vested in people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections”. This definition may not necessary resonates with our nation today. However, the principle of democracy may resonate with them!

    In my understanding, the current government was elected by representatives elected by people from different clans that are elected to speak and advocate for their interests in the Parliament. So in principle, one can argue that yes, the current government is democratically elected and the principle of democracy applies here as the representatives who elected the government represent Clans-Nation-people!

    If we then work from that side and agree that yes, the current government is democratically elected, and the national representative (Member of Parliaments) elected the government to implement the approved constitution, which is not created by the elected government but the nation, then we can have a dialogue or discussion on your article/analysis! Otherwise, you are entitle not to read my opinion

    My friend the title of your article is “Growing Pessimism about the Direction and the Leadership of the Somali Federal Government (SFG)”! In your opinion, which you are entitled to, predicted the actions and the deeds of the current government namely “the President”, will lead to a catastrophe! You have depicted the current President Hassan Sheikh, who I do not know, never met and have no plans of meeting him, as a “narrow interest leader, who has little regards for the long-term stability for the nation”. My brother you providing us with ultimate conclusion of Hassan Sheikh’s leadership is not following or implementing the constitution or the mandate that was entrusted in him by the MP! Red Flag!

    It is good to have an intellectual brother to provide us early warning indicators of critical situation that may lead to “civil war” as you predicted! I am intently reading to see the evidence to back up your analysis…I read your article and look for key “evident-based indicators” that backs up your analysis! I would like to see specify actions or deeds that the current government supported or taken individually, be it corrupt action, murder or other injustice that can lead to civil war? Please provide evidence so we can meet the government in “court rooms” not on the streets of Xamar! We can take a class action to bring them to justice and make them example of nation-destroyers!

    In your article, you also mentioned that the government (President) alienated clans such as Somaliland…I am Somalilander and I do not feel alienated…to the contrary…I feel that as soon as Somalia or rather people in Banadir, Bay, Shabeelooyinka etc bring peace through this government, then we can build a nation that is based on Federal Government if that is my preferred choice. As a matter of fact, I believe the current government elected by the Parliament is the way forward to unity! So please again share “evidence-based” actions that Hassan Sheikh took to alienated the clans! Clansman elected him! Again evidence-based intellectual analysis is crucial in articles and as intellectual man; you must state facts to back up your analysis how and where he alienated clans?

    You blame him not paying an attention to the current insurgency…that is regional and international challenge…insurgency is most saddest act that is currently occurring in Somalia…these people are the ultimate enemies of the nation, and despises peace within the country and not ready for peaceful dialogue as they have no intellectual capacity to or vision to lead a nation in 21st century! They are the scum of earth and a key threat to nation-building and sovereign-nation…these people are number one enemies of the of Somalia and Somalis and it is the duty of the nation comprehensively to tackle these people from the grassroots level with the support of the just-born government. As an intelligent man, do not blame insurgency with evil ideology with anyone especially someone that represents a nation such as “Hassan” Sheikh…be responsible…insurgency is beyond him and a regional challenge that needs a joint regional strategies and efforts.

    You have predicted that the new government will disappoint the nation because some ministries from the previous administration will be part of the new government and because they contributed to the failure of the previous administration, which you fail to specify it. Well, in my view, your prediction is similar to an ancient skill called “faal”, in which an old-lady or old-man will play with shells from the stunning seaside of Jazeera beach…in which hopeless uneducated individuals will believe as they have no hope but believing the fortune-teller to solve their problems! My friend, as an educated man, there are rules, principles, standards and professional values that you have to obey…it is call evidence-based or facts, your article lacks such facts…please help me to understand and respect/believe your analysis, persuade me with facts and do not destroy the only hope we have today, which is a government that may lead to stability and peace Somalia my friend…

    I am proudly British and love my country (adopted). I have at most respect for my nation and will protect the Queen and Country any day. I might never go back to Somalia and may not benefit from its assets. Nevertheless, I like the notion of peaceful and prosperous Somalia just in case my children go back Somalia one day. So with that narrow hope of possible future association with Somali one day, I would like to convince you and the readers to see the big pictures, which are peace, stability and positive thoughts in your writing/analysis and surely your prediction! Dialogue and choose your words of wisdom through positive communications…frame it in your mind… instant gratitude is distractive…accept the current government in order to achieve better future…it is the beginning of a long process…Europe was not the Europe that you see today 100yrs ago…US was not the US that you know today, thanks to Lincoln and their founding fathers who lost their lives to bring a united nation…lets work with Hassan and his team and let us advice and speak of the positive achievements of today to work toward better tomorrow…let us concentrate alleviating diseases, poverty and injustice in our nation…peace to you all…
    Forgive me my brother if I offended you anyway…peace

  2. Suuban says

    My soul and mind believes that if we at least give it a try, we may get somewhere…at least we have a President, PM and a Parliament…we had nothing…allow them to lead and develop systems…bring some stability…then the next government will have an opportunity to build on what the current government started…we lost 100years of history…let us begin and think of the future of not only the next generation but the coming generations…for those of us in the diaspora, if we compare the current government with our governments (USA or UK etc.) we are absolutely incorrect and we need to reflect our souls and correct our thoughts, reason with your mind…Somali is in the midst of finding or rather reviving its nation…getting the flag back is indeed an achievement…congratulations my dear Hassan Sheikh and his team…I do not know any of you but I grantee you there is nothing I want from you or expect from you but promote peace and unity…I love my adopted country and may never return to Somalia…nevertheless…I would like to see peace in Somalia because it has potential to become a part of the future of tomorrow for the world…give it a try people and let us congratulate the new President and PM…let us also remember the Parliament’s achievements in selecting credible leaders…Hassan Sheikh seems a reasonable guy…regardless of who leads let us see this as a process and support him so the next leader will at least find a foundations to proceed with the next phase of peace and nation building…have faith and trust the power almighty…change is imminent and we are heading somewhere…patients my people…Peace to the world.

  3. Suuban says

    It is indeed about time we must give an opportunity for the leaders that are democratically elected to at least lead their term and stop criticizing…it can only get better if we all strive to bring peace in Somalia. Give it a try and let peace come