It means people choose their own representatives in government. It means people can change their political leaders and representatives periodically. It means politicians are held accountable for their policies and actions. It means nobody is above the law of the land. It means corruption and bribery are serious crimes to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. It means tax evasion is equally serious crime. It means closed-door deals by people in public office are evading public scrutiny and they should be exposed. It means people ask questions and seek clarifications for the policies and public programs. It means leaders and representatives cannot retaliate for investigative media coverage on power abuses and malfeasance in public services. It means adequately vetting people before they take up public office.
Compare this notion of representative government with what was happening in post-civil war central and regional governments of Somalia. Do you find anything resembling close to what we are talking about? The culture of political marketplace, elite bargaining, vote rigging and buying openly with impunity could happen in a country beyond redemption. Nothing short of radical reform in all aspects of life would save such a nation.
Representative government goes hand-in-hand with free media, freedom of expression of thought and protection of human rights. There is no room for incompetence, cronyism, nepotism and influence peddling in the fair delivery of public services. It means insuring certainty and predictability in the behavior of public figures. It means public officials and institutions serve all citizens of various faith and beliefs, guests and visitors alike.
I sometimes reflect upon what many Somalis have been saying all along- it is still a long way for Somalia’s statehood to function normally as a democracy, serving its own citizens and pursuing vital national interests. I agree.
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