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That question was raised by one of us in a group discussion tonight at teatable in Garowe, Puntland. Everyone expressed his take on that colossal Somali tragedy. The consensus was that Somali state failed due to one man-rule. In other words, the rise of Madax-Ka-Nool is the root cause of Somalia’s collapse. Did we learn anything from this experience?, asked one man. Nothing, responded another. Is there a guarantee that it won’t fail again?, asked 3rd man. No, you won’t get different result from repeating the same experience, volunteered to the debate yet another man.

The conversation was as enlightening as it gets. But what was more exciting was the understanding that since some past and present leaders of the Federal Government and Federal Member States have no capacity or resources to act Siyad Barre, at least this weakness combined with Federal system are deterrent against dictatorship, but for how long? The current problem though lies in leaders of mini-states have created their own enclaves to act as mini-despots in their own right – again one man-rule in a much smaller scale. It means the sum total of the leaders of the Federal Government and FMS amount to a system of despotism in Somalia – an unintended outcome of federalism.

How to come out of this political quagmire? Did you see workshops and training on governance by subject-matter experts in Somalia? But do despots need such transfer of knowledge to the general public and government personnel? Of course not. A vicious cycle sets in which leads to the philosophy hardest question of which was created first, chicken or the egg.

Where does the rule of law fit into all of those? How about independent body of legislators? How does a country call itself democracy in the absence of free and fair elections? We must be all kidding ourselves.

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