Somali President in waiting
By Hassan Isilow
Omar Fiqi left his well paying academic job in Canada and traveled back to Somalia to front the initiative to create a semi-autonomous state within the war torn mainland of Somalia. He has been travelling around the world, seeking support to break away from the mainland, which is currently under the leadership of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG).
Last week the middle aged politician visited the Somali community in Cape Town to drum up support for his idea of creating the Waxa iyo Waaadi state, which would consist of four regions, along with a few districts located in the neighborhood of Mogadishu, Somalia’s troubled capital city.
Somalia currently has six break away, semi autonomous states, the most popular among them being Somaliland, which broke away from the Somalia Republic over a decade ago. Somaliland, like the other break away states, has experienced total peace and economic stability, compared to the mainland Somalia under the TFG.
Tracking down Omar Fiqi, was a kind of marathon for me. I called one of his hosts and requested that he sets up an interview for me with the visiting politician. But the host replied that the “president in waiting” had a tight schedule, so he could not speak to me. That was on Wednesday. After turning down two appointments, Fiqi himself gives me a call and agreed to the interview. He even sent someone to pick me up in Bellville and I’m driven to a place where he is addressing a large number of his supporters.
According to Fiqi, the main motivation for the creation of Waxa iyo Waaadi state is the need to fight the militant group, Al-Shabab. “We are breaking away from the mainland Somalia republic, because the TFG has failed to secure any stability since its creation by the United Nations,” he told the crowd of about 250 Somali’s who mainly hailed from his region.
The former Canadian academic, now turned politician, said the only cure to the Somali crisis is to create many federal states within the main Somali republic. He insisted that this will ensure security, stability and economic transformation of the regional inhabitants. “After 20 years of war, we can not continue to be part of mainland Somalia’s failed state. We are breaking away in order to have our people empowered, protected from the ruthless Al-Shabab and the warlords,” he told me.
Fiqi revealed that at the end of this month they intend to set up a technical committee that will organize presidential and ministerial elections for the Waxa iyo Waaadi state, which is expected to break away completely from mainland Somalia in May. “After successfully completing the election process, we will have legitimately elected leaders to runn state affairs. I believe everything will be successful,” he said confidently, adding that the Waxa iyo Waaadi state has supporters and funders all over the world.
This month another semi-autonomous region, called Azania or Jubaland, was created out of mainland Somalia, which already lost Puntland and Somaliland. Former Somalia Defence Minister, Professor Mohamed Abdi Gandhi, was elected as president of Jubaland. He said his main goal is also to defeat Al Shabab.
Elections for office bearers, including the president, were held in neighboring Kenya. A spokesperson of the Kenyan government said the idea to create an autonomous region near the Kenyan border was because it would prevent the movement of Al-Shabab extremists within the region.
This statement would be interpreted to mean that the Kenyan government was behind the creation of Jubaland, by providing funding and helping to strategise on the creation of the new state. This serves to confirm recent reports on the whistle blower website, WikiLeaks, that Kenya supported the creation of an autonomous region near its border with Somalia to prevent the flow of illegal arms.