The Winner Takes it All

There could only be one winner. In a power struggle that pitched a warlord with the backing of Ethiopia and his own regional army against a softly spoken former vet, my money was always on President Abdullahi Yusuf triumphing over  Mohamed Gedi, the prime minister. So it was little surprise that Gedi quit yesterday. In fact the only surprise was that it had taken him so long. I suspect that it was his personal safety that kept Gedi in post as his country slipped further into anarchy. He has long been hated in Mogadishu, the city that was supposed to be his power base, and knows that he needs the trappings of state to protect him from Somalia’s guns.

But he won’t have to stay long in Somalia. I understand he was granted political asylum last year by a western power. And it sounds as if he has managed to amass enough cash from his salary (ahem) to lead a pretty decent life outside the country.

This might well be an opportunity for Somalia to start again with a Transitional Federal Governmeny that has struggled to unite the country’s warring clans. Another round of political haggling could bring the main clans back into balance, now that the Hawiye representative – much despised in his own constituency – has been dumped.

Or it might be a chance for some new bloodletting as the other clans let President Yusuf know he can’t have it all his own way.

Perhaps the notions of power-sharing, coalition building and consensus government don’t have a place in Somali politics. Perhaps we just need a winner.

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