Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed: The Ideal Candidate For Villa Somalia

MUQDISHO-AYAAMAHA-The long-delayed Somali Presidential election is slated to take place at the heavily-guarded, Afisione Hangar at the Mogadishu airport on May 15th to coincide with the Youth Day, an annual commemoration of the founding of the Somali Youth League (SYL), the party that delivered independence in 1960. Key candidates seeking to take over the reins of power at Villa Somalia include former Presidents, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, former Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre, and Puntland President Said Abdullahi Deni. Outgoing President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, whose term expired in February 2021 has also thrown his hat in the ring.

The majority of Somalis are clamouring for the return of Sheikh Sharif, a proven leader with a strong vision for the country capable of resolving Somalia’s intractable security, political and development challenges. He can be trusted to bring the entire nation under a long-term clear vision that can lay a new foundation for the country and deliver the people to the promised land. Of all the contending candidates, no one can make a better president than Sheikh Sharif given his visionary leadership, previous impeccable record in government as well as his profound love for the country and its people. As a genuine political leader, he has demonstrated an unwavering love for his country, its people, its culture, and its heritage, and always makes a sincere effort to make Somalia a better place for all.

Sheikh Sharif is widely considered as the father of Somalia’s roadmap, a political arrangement that moved the country from the 12-year long, transitional state to a federal government. During his 2009-2012 stint in power, his government faced obstacles that were unparalleled as it dealt with a deadly terrorist group whose plan was “to topple the government as soon as it arrived.”[1] Against all odds, Sheikh Sharif’s government proved it could last as it took the battle to A-Shabab, driving out the insurgents from Mogadishu in October 2011, before pushing them out of other major cities and towns. Apart from pulling off Somalia’s most enduring victory over Al-Shabab, Sheikh Sharif’s government achieved other important milestones in critical sectors including good governance and reconstruction and in the humanitarian front where his government effectively mobilized international support to mitigate the deadly effects of the 2011 famine.

His brand of leadership attracted the attention of international actors, especially Turkey that has since become one of Somalia’s most dependable security and development partners. Incredibly, his government’s stellar record came on the back of a shoestring budget, in an era when Somalia was chronically short in resources with minimal international aid trickling in. In sharp contrast, the outgoing Farmajo government has enjoyed unprecedented international largesse to the tune of billions with little to show for as the security situation deteriorated under his watch with an emboldened insurgency wreaking havoc across the country. If elected for a new term, Sheikh Sharif can be counted upon to restore peace and security, unite and reconcile Somalis and reset the country on the path of development, stability, and economic prosperity.

He is admired for his selfless character and pleasant personality. Somalis love him for his admirable traits such as integrity, honesty, fairness, self-sacrifice, self-control, and perseverance and for his deeply held strong moral values and core principles. While some leaders are known for their despotism and totalitarian tendencies, the humble and down to earth Sheikh Sharif sees himself first and foremost as a servant for his country and its people. This is one of his distinctive attributes that has endeared him so well to the Somali people earning the full respect of his peers and compatriots alike.

Disturbingly, conflict-induced despotism, corruption and moral decadence pervades in Somali society today. At the helm, the country badly needs a head of state who can effectively combine sound political, traditional, and religious leadership roles. No political leader in Somalia can fit that bill better than Sheikh Sharif. A holder of bachelor’s degree in law from Libyan and Sudanese Universities, with graduate studies credentials from Boston University and Oxford University, the incorruptible Sheikh Sharif is known for his non-clannish conduct moral uprightness and steadfastness. He is equally respected for his strong Somali traditional values while his political and diplomatic skills will enable him to safely steer and guide the national vessel through rough waters.

On the diplomatic front, the last five years represent the darkest chapter in Somalia’s history. According to Diplo, a Swiss-Maltese non-governmental organisation that specialises on capacity development, Diplomatic Protocol is an important practice rooted in history, royalty, religion, culture, and language and involves etiquette on a local and international scene. It establishes the rules governing acceptable international behaviour on the part of world leaders, diplomats, and nations of the world[1].

The election of Sheikh Sharif would present an excellent opportunity to stamp out the embarrassing belligerent culture of the dark days as he would bring on the table his proven diplomatic acumen that served Somalia so well in the past. During his previous tenure as president, Sheikh Sharif demonstrated strong international affairs management. Unlike the outgoing incumbent who has been at loggerheads with Somalia’s neighbours and international partners, Sheikh Sharif’s calmness and maturity on the global stage received plaudits from regional and international players. He maintained cordial diplomatic relations with world leaders and forged healthy working relationship with Somalia’s partners, including the donor community, United Nations, African Union, the Arab League, IGAD etc.

Sheikh Sharif is a strong consensus-builder with the ability to build bridges that can unite Somalis holding diverse or conflicting political viewpoints. According to Harvard’s Program on Negotiation (PON), consensus building is a process involving a good-faith effort to meet the interests of all stakeholders and seek a unanimous agreement[2]. Sheikh Sharif is well known for such quality, having pursued consensus- building measures during his last term in office bringing together Somalis fronting deeply polarized political agendas. Over the last five years, he advanced similar initiatives as an opposition leader proactively engaging with Somalia’s political

opposition, civil society, and the general public. He was instrumental in mobilizing previously fragmented Somali opposition parties leading them to work together under the banner – the Forum for National Parties (FNP) that brought together six major parties in 2019 forming Somalia’s first ever coalition outfit under his leadership.

At this critical juncture in Somalia’s history, the country needs a leader like Sheikh Sharif capable of making tough and brave decisions for the better future of the public and willing to listen to and respect the people’s voice while representing them faithfully. He is a statesman who can work collaboratively with the national leadership and international partners to develop a concrete plan for change. A vote for Sheikh Sharif, is a vote for renewal and better future for Somalia. It is a vote that represents a positive change, peace and prosperity, unity, and reconciliation.

If elected, Sheikh Sharif would help build a new Somalia free of despotism and corruption. He would build a strong professional army that can effectively take over Somalia ‘s security at the end of ATMIS mandate. He would restore law and order, consolidate Somalia’s nascent democracy, end impunity, uphold justice and respect for the rule of law. He would strengthen federal institutions, foster better relations with federal member states, and bring the constitutional process to a successful conclusion. Lastly, he would root out the scourge of clannism and endemic state corruption, reconcile and unite all Somalis and embark on a nation-building project that would make Somalia a force to reckon with in the region as it takes its rightful place in the world.

Sayid Mohamed Ahmed Gurey