By Jerry Okungu
I may be a pessimist, but as early as the Somali peace deal was signed in Nairobi and warlords elected Abdullahi as interim president, I predicted disaster and failure. I did not do so because I had known him. I did so when I saw the circumstances of his election against his track record as a warlord.
Now, two years later, my prediction has come to pass. However, what worries me, and I hope other realists too, is why the international community, Africa and the rest of mankind cannot see that backing Abdullahi Yusuf to bring peace and stability to Somalia is like
asking a goat to negotiate with a crocodile.
The past two years have proved beyond reasonable doubt that Yusuf is not good for Somalia. His type of politics polarises the country even further. He is a soldier who can easily be described as the coward of the county. He loves playing safe. If he were not so, then he would have left Nairobi immediately he was elected President and headed for Mogadishu.
He did not do this. Instead, he lingered around in Nairobi for almost a year waiting for a non existent AU peacekeeping force to lead him to Mogadishu.
Yusuf stayed for so long in Nairobi until the Kibaki administration literally forced him out of town. Life was so good here that he saw no need to hurry back to war-torn Somalia to face the challenges awaiting him there. When he finally left Nairobi, he over-flew Somalia and headed for Yemen where he took a few months before deciding where to land in Somalia! When
he finally did, it was not in Mogadishu but tiny Baidoa, fearing that warlords controlling Mogadishu were unfriendly to him.
His decision to settle in Baidoa caused a rift between him, the Speaker of the National Assembly and his Prime Minister, both of whom were pro-settlement in Mogadishu. However, even though he finally won the day, Somalia never recovered from its persistent internal strife. Thuggery and brinkmanship held sway over the land. Militias of all sorts continued to hold
the country to ransom until the Islamic Courts Union rose from the ashes to take control and bring back law and order.
As I write this article, the entire Somalia, save for Somaliland in the north, is under the control of the Islamic Courts. In any case, Somaliland broke way from the South as soon as Siad Barre bade farewell to his countrymen in the early 1990s.
As if that was not enough, just two weeks ago, war broke out in Baidoa, the very seat of Yusuf's
government over the control of the airstrip. Most foreign visitors like I had to find refuge in
ICU-controlled town of Wajid for days as we awaited evacuation of our colleagues in Baidoa.
Just before Monday's bomb blast that almost claimed the life of Yusuf himself, one warlord called Mohammed Ibrahim Habsade, who controls Baidoa, had given notice to the Yusuf Government to vacate Baidoa or they would be evicted by force!
The blast that claimed several lives is a pointer to the fact that Yusuf's days are numbered as President of Somalia. He is finally cornered the way Siad Barre was cornered. His continued stay in Somalia is not good for the country nor is it good for Africa and the international community.
Any attempts to force Yusuf on Somalis will be a sure catalyst for a bloodbath of unimaginable proportions. Africa certainly does not need another Iraq or Afghanistan on its soil.
If the ICU can bring law and order in Southern Somalia, if Somalilanders can demonstrate that they can run a peaceful government for 15 years, hold regular elections and generally give Somalilanders their life back, why on earth would we waste 8,000 African soldiers to safeguard one individual at the risk of their own lives? Is President Abdullahi Yusuf worth dying for not only by Somalis but other nationals of Africa? I don't think so.
The writer is an independent journalist based in Nairobi