Somalia is taking the right direction for the first time in two decades.’ Abdullahi Ali Hassan, executive director of Oxfam Novib’s partner CED, reacts to the election of Hassan Sheik Mohamoud as his country’s new president.
Abdullahi Ali Hassan: ‘I am optimistic that his government will restore peace and stability.’ Photo:Center for Education and Development Somalia is one of the poorest countries in the world. In recent decades the Somali people have faced civil wars, periodical droughts, famine, floods and a tsunami.
The election of Hassan Sheik Mohamoud as the new president brings hope to Somalia. According to Abdullahi Ali Hassan, executive director of the Center for Education and Development (CED), one of Oxfam Novib’s leading partners in Somalia, Mohamoud is the right man to lead Somalia to a better future: ‘Somalia is heading in the right direction with this president. Somali civil society groups will get more opportunities for realising changes in this country.’
There was an assassination attempt on Mohamoud only two days after he started his new job, and a few weeks later a law-maker was killed by Islamist rebels in Mogadishu. How optimistic are you about the future of Somalia and the hope Mohamoud’s election must have brought?
Hassan: ‘It is clear to everyone that Somalia is taking the right direction for the first time in two decades. The country is shifting from a transitional system to more de facto democratically elected government institutions. What happened shortly after the election of the new president doesn’t provide an accurate picture of this country’s future. They were isolated and manageable cases that could have been prevented in the first place. However, to ensure that such horrific events do not happen again the government should prioritise stabilising security through an effective establishment and upgrading of Somali police forces and intelligence, which will clear pockets of resistances from insurgent groups in the coming future.’
Mohamoud is a teacher and comes from civil society. Do you know him personally?
Hassan: ‘Mohamoud was a teacher even before the collapse of the former Somali central government. I was a teacher too. We worked together at the Somali National University and have been friends. He is a man of good character, intelligent, socially interacting, committed to always turning his promises into deeds and action, and he is a man who consults the people around him, before taking any decisions.’
What are your expectations about him and the development of Somalia?
Hassan: ‘In the long term I expect to see this country headed to becoming a more peaceful society and I hope for a full recovery for all Somalis from the devastation and destruction that has occurred over the past two decades of chaos and anarchy. This will not happen during his term, but I am optimistic that his government will restore peace and stability, and lay a foundation or at least a starting point that achieves partly the reconstruction and development of this country.’
Looking at Mohamoud’s background, what opportunities does he bring to the work of civil society in Somalia?
Hassan: ‘Mohamoud is a key member of Somali civil society groups, a prominent activist, an educationist and a founder of what became later the SIMAD University. He will bring good collaboration and co-ordination between his government agencies and Somali civil society organisations. He will also effectively contribute to the fact that Somali civil society groups get more opportunities for realising changes in this country, and that there will be more transparency and accountability when it comes to public service management throughout the country.’
At the moment maintaining security seems to be the main problem in Somalia. What is CED going to do to keep the development of young people and specifically girls high on the agenda of the new government?
Hassan: ‘CED is mobilising its resources to be prepared to act on what is required, and adjust to the dynamic political changes that are taking place in our country. As Somalia is moving towards more economic security and development we are planning skills training for young people to ensure their participation in the development of the country. We are also planning the rehabilitation of the devastated education system through a revival of the sector, hence the improvement of the education system for girls has been one of our main objectives for a long time.’
Bron Oxfam Novib, October 26, 2012 Auteur Fred Geelen, editor Oxfam Novib