Decoding Guled’s appointment: Strategy or compromise?

Abdikarim Hussein Guled ‘s appointment received a mixed reaction from those it concerned. President Muse Bihi and his team in Hargeisa have called to congratulate him on the new role. SCC-Khatumo went a further step and issued a statement in which it both welcomed him and distanced itself from his mandate. Having noted this, a couple of things need to be said about his appointment.

First, Guled belongs to the Sacad clan of the Habar-gidir, who are counted as allies by the Isaaq elites in Somaliland. This puts him in a tight position. On the one hand, the ululation for his appointment in Hargeisa reflects that he is expected to be a friend rather than a neutral facilitator. On the other hand, the Daarood elites, key stakeholders in the talks, may watch him carefully and expect him to bring Somaliland back to the union with no major compromises. 

More importantly, Guled led the stalled talks between Somaliland and Somalia’s federal government. None of the points agreed upon in that meeting were implemented, including the contentious issue of aviation. The expectation, therefore, is that Guled should pick up where the process was left off. Already, one of the opposition parties in Somaliland, UCID, made a remark to this effect. However, neither Mohamoud nor the federal member states would accept such a concession. 

Second, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s appointment is more tactical than substantive. It is part of his strategy of eliminating his possible contenders for the 2026 elections, one by one in the political process. Look no further than Abdirahman Abdishakur, whose appointment as the envoy for the drought dried up his political party. Almost everyone left him because he was in a position without a portfolio, where he could not benefit his followers in any way remotely comparable to his boss and friends.

As for the present appointment, in addition to its likely effect on the upcoming reshuffle, it may embroil Guled in the same dilemma as AA. It may also further put him in a difficult position where his master erects more complications than necessary to make sure that he fails in this role. This sinister intention is particularly likely to be made easier by the fact that the issue is more complex than the eye captures, as Guled himself acknowledged. For this reason, the messenger is more important than the message.

Having highlighted the problems apparent in the appointment, the following could be a better alternative to approach the issue: 

  • Set up a ministry dedicated to the unification, staffed by lawyers and experts in international relations, to explore options and possibilities in which Somaliland could be engaged.
  • Leadership of the ministry should be drawn from Somalis other than the Daarood and Dir elites. Hawiye, too should be included in the precluded list since the administration in Hargeisa drums up the Irir rhetoric at a time when the Hawiye is at the helm of the power in Somalia.

Abdifatah Ismael Tahir is former member of Somali Parliament and Research Associate at The University of Manchester.

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