ONUMBA.COM – The treacherous road to peace and stability in the East African nation of Somalia could pass through Columbus where Abdulkadir “Fish” Ali officially kicked off his candidacy for the president of his war-battered homeland.
Ali, who was the Chairman of the Somali Chamber of Commerce in Columbus, made his candidacy official last week at a rally held in Days Inn on E. Dublin Granville Road.
Before a group of friends and supporters, at an event bunting with Somali flags and patriotic songs, Ali urged his fellow Somalis in their native tongue to rally around his candidacy under the mantra: “2011 New Hope for Somalia.”
If he prevails in his bid, he vowed to establish an effective government rooted in “honesty, integrity and accountability.”
In his speech, Ali outlined some of his plans to steer Somalia out of the crippling conflict that has robbed it of an effective government for nearly two decades.
That conflict has shredded Somalia into a wreckage of despair, leaving its war-fatigued citizens dangling in brutal hostilities, which started in 1991 after the demise of strongman Siad Barre’s regime.
“It’s time for a new leadership,” said Ali.
“We cannot wait for another 20 years for something to happen,” he said. “We want to take back our country from corrupt politicians.”
And when that happens, he would pattern the Somali governmental structure after the U.S. federal presidential system.
Ali unveiled a few of his plans.
Baffled that the United States, as big as it is, has only 435 members of the House of Representatives, he questioned why Somalia should have more than that, and said he would dissolve the “550” member Somali parliament, to make room for a radically smaller chamber with no more than 120 members.
But he would establish a generous salary scale of $5,000 a month for members to “help eliminate corruption.”
What’s more, there would be no more than 25 federal ministers in his government, he said, adding that he would raise the pay of soldiers to $700 a month and that of police officers to $500.
He said he would create a force of “30, 000” well-trained, well-paid Somali military, which is part of his agenda to “build a strong Somali army” to rid the nation of meddlesome foreign forces, bring security to the country and “stop the senseless bloodshed.”
Ali, though not in agreement with the independent minded Somaliland, said that he “approve of the way they have handled their affairs.” He said he would initiate a dialogue with them as part of his comprehensive plan to unite Somalia.
“I will talk to the leaders of the Somaliland,” he said, which will be a striking departure from the approach of the current regime.
Of course, none of this would be easy, and Ali is not oblivious to the potential danger involved in this massive orb, but he said he is not “worried about death” as long as he is convinced he is doing the right thing for his war-torn homeland.
That “right thing,” said Ali, is to rescue his crumbling country from the mean-spirited grip of politicians he characterized as “inhumane, unwise and heartless.”
In an interview last week, the 52-year old Ali told the Call & Post why he decided to embark on this endeavor.
“I came to the conclusion that I can no more be an indifferent spectator of the calamity that has befallen on my beloved country of Somalia,” he said.
He described the existing political arrangements and behavior of current crop of Somali politicians as “unacceptable.”
In the Diaspora, war-fatigued Somalis residing in the United States and elsewhere are swooning for a leader that will rescue their torn-up homeland from war to make room for peace and stability.
But they are clinging on to barely a thread of hope that it will happen.
Ali, though frustrated, remains optimistic.
“I am not one of those who gave up hope on Somalia, because I love my people and I love my country,” he said. “I believe our good days are ahead of us, all we need is to make the right choice this time around.”
In his eyes, Somalia’s current leader Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed is not up to the job of delivering peace and stability to Somalia.
Ali’s candidacy may face a hurdle given that the United States and the international community are reportedly rooting for Somalia’s current regime of Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed to succeed.
Ali is aware of that, but he is forging ahead believing that, “The U.S. is supporting the wrong leadership in Mogadishu.”
Currently, Somalia is ungovernable. The conflict in the impoverished Muslim nation has forced thousands to flee to neighboring countries, the United States and elsewhere.
At the height of the conflict, a stampede of warlords scrimmaging for power littered the scene of a ruptured country carved up into hostile clan-based fiefdoms.