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Mr. Mohamed Abdirazak - Candidate for Presidency of Somalia
Security and Prosperity through Reconciliation and Honest Government
It is time we stood up for Somalia. It is time we make our country safe, secure and prosperous for ordinary Somalis.
To achieve that and per our campaign slogan “Achieving security and prosperity through reconciliation and honest government,” we propose to tackle this under the two pillars of:
How do we make our country safe? We must make national reconciliation a priority. Though there have been many initiatives to address reconciliation among Somalis, these initiatives mainly focused on the re-establishment of a Somali government. What we need now is to build trust among ordinary Somalis, which is the foundation we need for restoring the fabric of our society and Somali unity. With trust in ourselves and in one another we can bring back Somali unity and with Somali unity we can protect our people, secure our country and achieve prosperity.
Trust and unity are the political foundations we need to build to unite and strengthen our defragmented security forces. We must recognize strengthening our security forces is a political undertaking. Without political settlement in our regions and reconciliation and trust building among our people no amounts of equipment, salaries or training can give us the national force we so desperately need to defend our country. But we must also recognize that no one else can build, unite or pay for our forces for us. Others can only help us to a degree. We must have the political will to build our national security forces; where every clan makes their contribution and every Somali citizen feels like the security forces are there to protect them.
Once we build our national security forces, we need to build their capacity so they can take over from AMISOM with time. This means not only providing better training and better equipment but also instilling a sense of national duty and patriotism and even more importantly keeping our commitment to take care of those who are wounded.
With trust, unity and a strong political foundation, we can put in place a tax collection system from all the regions to pay for our national forces. But we must first ensure that we eliminate corruption and mismanagement. I will come back to the issue of payments.
Holding government, both federal and local, accountable is our second pillar in our vision for Somalia. How do we fight corruption and increase accountability? It starts at the top. I pledge that I as President and those who work with me will not tolerate corruption.
There has been a significant lack of accountability across all sectors of government. This needs to change. Government institutions are first and foremost accountable to their citizens; under our vision, we will empower the citizens ability to hold their government accountable.
An honest government is vital for the rebuilding of Somalia. To stop corruption, we are going to pay every solider every month by depositing his salary into his bank account. That way money can’t be diverted, taken by corrupt officials or used for other purposes.
I will also establish and independent anti-corruption commission with the full authority to look into all levels of government, to bring prosecution, to remove corrupt officials and recover monies taken illegally.
But I can’t do it alone. Every Somali citizen needs to join with me to say that we are not going to tolerate corruption. By cooperating with those who are not corrupt and by reporting those who are to the anti-corruption commission. Stopping corruption will take time and will take all of us working together.
With a strong political foundation, which is the result of trust and Somali unity and with an honest government and a unified national security forces, we can tackle all other aspects of moving our country forward:
We need to appreciate the democratic culture inherent in our culture. Somali culture does not allow suppression of people’s views and speech. We just need to direct that towards the rebuilding of a democratic government.
Four years ago, I was charged with the task of civic education on the constitution. We made short films and radio dramas explaining aspects of the draft constitution. We then aired these episodes on radio and opened discussion. One night as I was driving home from work, I turned on the radio where a lively discussion was going. Each caller to the radio station was expressing their views about the constitution respectfully and was referring to specific articles and what they thought. There was no clannism, there was no regionalism, and there was no gender bias views. This was an all Somali civil discussion on what’s important for us. That was one of my proudest moments.
We need to continue to make steady progress towards democracy. Direct elections will allow all Somalis to hold officials accountable, to vote out of office those who are corrupt, or who fail to put the interests of citizens first. All elected officials should answer to the people. We do that by allowing every Somali citizen to vote.
Businesses and Private Sector
I believe in Somalis – we are a country of entrepreneurs. Somalis work hard, they are successful in business in Africa and all over the world. We have to open our country for business. Somalis now live all over the world. They have acquired skills, seen business succeed but they still love Somalia. We need to invite them home, bring their skills, their ideas and help us make Somalia prosperous again.
Meanwhile, those who prefer to remain abroad must have the support of their government. For example, we must vigorously advocate for the safety and protection of our business communities abroad such as those in South Africa who face xenophobia.
If we have security and fight corruption, we can then develop Somalia’s agriculture, extractive industries, fisheries, and other natural resources.
International interests have hijacked our natural resources with little to no benefit to Somalis. Dubious international companies have colluded with inept and corrupt officials to strike unacceptable deals that only benefit a handful of people. Under my leadership, we promise to restore Somalia’s natural economic comparative advantage and ensure that the interest of the Somali people is put first.
Our interest first also means opening up our country for just and honest business. We will make our country one that attracts businesses and a country where companies want to do business because we will make it easier to start a business and we will protect all investments, both national and foreign. In the end this is how we will create jobs and change the reputation of our country.
Our path to prosperity is to create jobs for young Somalis. We have to attract foreign direct investment – we can’t do that without security. We can’t do that unless we defeat corruption. And unless young Somalis have hope for their economic future we will never have security. I am sure we all remember the recent accident where several hundred young Somalis died in the sea. They were seeking jobs and better living opportunities. My government will do all it can to create job opportunities here at home.
As we all know, our women were instrumental in the struggle for the country’s freedom and independence. As active participants in the SYL movement, women played an indispensable role in the mobilization process for political independence and decolonization. Many were imprisoned, tortured and killed as they fought for Somalia’s nationhood. Despite the crucial role they play within the society, women are still sidelined and excluded from engaging in politics and peace-building processes in the country.
Our women are our natural treasure. However, it’s become common to pay lip service when it comes to talking about their achievements and the vital role they play in our everyday life at home, at the workplace and at defending their communities and so on. It’s time we got serious and realized that no nation can succeed by ignoring the contributions and the potential of half of its population.
In 2012, I personally worked hard with women leaders in mandating that 30% of parliamentary seats to be set-aside for women. Under my leadership, we facilitated capacity building trainings for over 250 women leaders from state to district level, so women can be part of processes that’s aimed at rebuilding their nation.
My government will ensure to create an enabling environment for women to actively and equally engage in politics of their country at every level.
So, here today, in our capital – I am proud to announce my candidacy for President of the Federal Republic of Somalia.
With your support and the support of millions of Somalis, in and outside the country, let’s stand up for our country to transform it from a country known for its longstanding conflict to a country known for the greatest transformation of all: from conflict-affected to stable and prosperous.
Together let’s stand Somalia up; together let’s achieve what is within our reach. Together let us “Achieve Security and Prosperity through Reconciliation and Honest Government.”
My name is Mohamed Abdirizak and I would like to be your next president.