In the run up to the last General Election, negotiated democracy was synonymous with the politics of Northeastern. Generally, the residents of this part of the country resort to elders in resolving most of their disputes. It is often said real men are the old and real words are those they pronounce. This men hold an important position in community decision and at a tender age, you will often be warned that the person who does not listen to elders advise gets his leg broken.
Months to the polls, virtually every Somali clan or sub-clan started reviving long forgotten titles. The sultanate, for that matter, was reborn to whip the communities together. These men of wisdom will tell you if people come together they can even mend a crack in the sky.
In Garissa, Governor Ali Korane was a beneficiary of clan endorsement. Together with Majority leader Aden Duale and the Balambala MP Abdi Shurie, the Abduwak sub-clan were able to bag three crucial seats.
Mandera Governor Ali Roba is the prominent general to triumph over negotiated democracy. In 2013 he was little known and was a product of the same system he defied.
In unclear circumstances, the Garre council of elders dropped all the elected leaders from their community in the famous Banisa Declaration. Those sympathetic to Roba cried foul and vowed to stand with him. The elders were accused of being compromised and corrupt.
In the end, the governor consolidated his political base and formed alliances with other clans to win this coveted seat. Critics will argue that he rigged himself in and is a product of a flawed election. However, the courts upheld his win and until they determine otherwise, I think he is a general winning against negotiated democracy.
In my county of Wajir , Governor Mohamed Abdi Mohamud was also product of negotiated democracy . At first, he was dropped by the sultanate. Later, he manoeuvred his way out and elbowed his kinsman Ugas Sheikh, who was the initial nominee. He went further to form an alliance with other clans to win the seat with a large margin.
Tarbaj consistuency, the genesis of this article, is inhibited by the Fai sub-clan of the larger Degodia clan. The first time MP is my elder brother and I was actively involved in his campaigns. The community was at first confused and did not stick to its initial decision. There was first and second verdict.
In my constituency, Jubilee nominee Idris Dubow, who was our opponent, was also a product of the first verdict. He capitalised on this all important clan endorsement and made it his number one campaign tool. In every rally, he would root for the system and discredit those who defied it, more so the MP. Surprisingly in 2013, he rebelled against the same system and performed dismally.
On the other hand, the MP engaged the voters directly and brought all candidates who were anti the elders' declaration on board. The consistency has four wards and all the then sitting MCAs were dropped. While defending their respective seats, they were able to boast our campaigns. They put in a spirited fight and formed a team of those left out by the elders in this process. Collectively, they all campaigned for the same governor but fought their own wars. Today, out of the four wards in the constituency, only one is a product of negotiated democracy. The rest defied the system, including the current Majority leader.
In negotiated democracy, during consensus building, the majority of Somalis being Muslims believe in the powers of Al-Fatiha, the first chapter in the Koran. Its seven verses are prayer for guidance, lordship and mercy. The candidate being prevailed upon to withdraw is showered with the blessings of this important Surah. Its believed the Almighty will open up other avenues for him.
In ideal circumstances, where there is fairness and justice all parties benefit. In the event there is other ulterior motive and injustice culminating in Fatiha, that wont work because God is never a witness to an injustice and there is a popular Somali saying: " A broken tradition angers God."
It was the duty of the elders to be just to all. Long ago, these men used to be free from any form of influence but in our case during these negotiations,that was not the case.
We put our faith on the elders and the religious leaders, we presented our candidature and paid the requisite application fee. Midway the system was hijacked. Self-interests superseded those of the community, friendship over fairness and predetermined decisions over consultations. It was unfair from the start.
Candidates developed a high degree of patience and in the end, though tough, they emerged the winners, albeit with small margins.
The writer comments on social-political issues and can be reached at [email protected]