By: Mohamed Garad
Amid of Abiy Ali’s (former spy) “change” rhetoric and in less than the six-month presidency of his first appointed Somali State president, Mustafa Omer, Abyssinia occupied Somalis experienced the nice reply of the accustomed show: the undue central interference and domination. Though Mr. Omer’s reform rhetoric with his “Somalinimo” slogan and Abiy’s biblical preaching of “love” and “Medemer” could have covered up the reality of the central domination at least from the fooled section of the community, the recent center’s failed attempt to oust the satellite president which is largely believed was approved by Abiy unmasked the whole reality.
The plot to unseat the president became public on January 22, 2019, when Ahmed Shide, chairman of the controlling “party”, Ethiopian-Somali People’s Democratic Party—ESPDP, accompanied by several imperial civil and military officials summoned Mr. Omer to resign in a meeting room at Addis Ababa. Ostensibly, the issues of contention which could have cost Mr. Omer to lose his presidency and put the state into violence were the control of the “party” which has been oppressing the people of the state for last 25 plus years and going after few selected individuals of its members.
Though it’s very logic to see Abiy defending his “party” and its members, one faces a hard reality to observe the former activist, Mr. Mustafa Omer, is endangering his presidency to inherit the “party” he had been fighting to depose for many years. However, briefly describing the dominant politics of the empire that dominates the state could help one to know the why and prescribe acts of salvation.
Since the finalization of building the widely diverse empire in the late 20th century, the absolute monopoly of power at the center and the marginalization of the nations incorporated has been the system of governance in the empire. Under the current regime, to maintain that hegemonic control and empower “the center to retain its hegemony and the regime to impose its program,” John Markakis observes, EPRDF “did so by merging party and state in the familiar ‘scientific socialist’ pattern.” Working under its autocratic rule, Markakis asserts “all matters administrative and political were first discussed and decided at the party meeting before reaching the elected councils” which makes party and state one and the same.
Therefore, to observe Mr. Omer fighting to control the “party” has the meaning that the guy is fighting to ride the train of oppression at the periphery of the empire—in this case, the Somali State. In other words, Mr. Omer is running behind the power, not the people and he has already felt into the web of the oppression but he’s being pushed back at the entry point.
As Mr. Omer affirms in one of his inaugural speeches, the people the state “didn’t sleep with peace and justice in any single day” since 1954 while oppression against them has been constant since the fall of the State’s government, the Adal Sultanate, in the late 19th century into hands of Abyssinian emperors. This testimony is parallel to the observance of the “Ethiopia’s successive regimes, be they imperial, socialist or the EPRDF, have been using the same form of subjugation including arbitrary arrests, executions, torture, rape and disappearances,” to colonize and rule the occupied Somalis in the words of Tobias Hagmann.
Since the start of the state’s occupation, the source of legitimacy and the real governing body have been the military officials and powerful authorities in Addis Ababa. State president, ministries, judges and members of parliaments—whenever they existed—were all came from the same “party” and have been the collaborates of the center’s hegemonic domination. They never came through the will of the people. This lack regional government legitimacy— a dimension of the colonization—made the regional government an instrument for spreading injustice which resulted in an ambivalence of abuse of power, a rule of men, lack of accountability, rampant corruption, and denial of basic human, democratic, social and economic rights.
Thus, needless to say, if President Omer ever thought to bring change to the people of the state he “leads”, it is this chain of oppression which is to be broken instead of competing to obtain it.
As a colonized society, Somali people in the Ethiopian empire are not only denied the right to self-rule and violently subjugated, rather they are declared value less and uncivilized. The Amharic words of Somali wari, (Somali talkative) bala gimal (camel herder) Somali gabare (Somali nomadic) are in mainstream social languages and used to publicize that Somalis are impervious to values and self-governance. In the eyes of the ruling Ethiopian elites, Somali cultural identity and norms are the enemies of self-rule. To them, Somalis are created to be ruled.
Therefore, to solve the above centuries-old problems, decolonization— “the creation of new men” in the words of Frantz Fanon is a must. That “creation of new men” is realizing the famous dictum of “all men are equal” which only make senses in the Fanon’s words “when colonized subject states he’s equal to the colonists.”
To make that solution a reality and meet the minimum demand of the “last should become the first,” the current chains of oppression must be broken permanently by ending the center’s hegemony and abolishing its enabler collaborators. The so-called ESPDP “party” must be abolished for good. All the central collaborators must be cleared from all organs of the state government and state must be completely liberalized from the “party”.
In doing so, Mr. Omer must completely depart from the “democratic centralism” and endorse liberal democracy. He must reshuffle the cabinet and bring in talented, morally higher and ideologically matching leaders. Since “for a colonized people, the most essential value, because it is the most meaningful, is first and foremost the land,” in the Fanon’s words, Mr. Omer must defend all the land of the colonized people and immediately solve the new wave of settlement in the western border of the state.
Prevalence of justice and rule of law must be the hallmark of his interim administration. He must lead the region towards having a free and fair election with strong, competitive and ideologically different political parties in the upcoming elections. He must put the Abiy Ahmed’s “change” rhetoric and the constitution of the empire into test!