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Djibouti Is Following The Path Of Somalia
By Mohamed Awaleh
Nation-state building must start from the nation to state, instead of the state to nation. Republic of Djibouti has practiced the opposite. Because of this there is now instability. Djibouti has inherited tribal rivalries: Afar and Issa. To save the nation-state, Djibouti leadership must accept the new process of true decentralization in order to diminish tribal or sectarian politics in the country. Djibouti must begin to study their own traditional cultures and societies in order to better understand their circumstances. Each and every indigenous community has its own institutions that sustain and protect individual rights: kingdoms, councils of elders, nomadic pastoral democracies, and other progressive variations of common social structure.
Ever since French colonialism and the first commercial Contacts with Arabs, the Djiboutians have been confused by the new values, rules and systems which were introduced to them. The old ways of barter and trade no longer served the new relationship between nations more economically and militarily advanced. Most African countries today have abandoned their old social ways which take into account African environmental realities. They simply imitate their colonial masters' old ways, and institutions which have nothing to do with their way of life and background. To make bad matters worse the government of Djibouti are blindly copying institutions alien to a sense of African well-being.
No system is perfect, and abuses occurred in traditional cultures and societies, as well, but the mitigating circumstances reflect the life and breath of the society. Tribal warfare indeed undermined any hope for building a nation state. Unlike Europe in the Dark Ages.
In the midst of the democratization of Djibouti in the millennium, it is only for the sake of appeasing the donor countries (the West). However, there's a big loophole in this whole process. The main weak point which Djibouti leader( Prs. Ismail Omar Guelleh) continue to accept is bringing a genuine democracy that indeed enhances solid development and serves justice for all.
With all due respect regardless of the rhetoric out there, one must realize that there is no way Djibouti will truly democratize under this current system, particularly imposing these unrealistic, alien imported ideologies by this current President.
The question is how this tiny nation would economically develop when there's no separation between politics and judicial systems. Free press, freedom of speech and respect for different or opposite opinions. In respect of our motherland; it's more likely will collapse just like Somalia: due to lack of institutions to enrich the political stability, not satisfy one man's ego, but create balance of powers between executive, legislative and judicial power. Yet, they don't even properly emulate their European counterparts' models of government. Countries in Europe or the West in general, aren't countries run by one man anymore, but they are governed by thousands of men and women. Well! Did Djibouti government appropriately at least emulate their former masters? No! In the France, there's constitutional superiority, but in Djibouti there's one man's superiority: President Ismail O. Guelleh.
If Mr. Guelleh is sincere about democracy, He must search first the answers through his cultural values, social history and understanding the ways of life of his people.
Lastly, here are my suggestions:
- Separate politics from the courts, not only in theory, but in reality.
- Freedom of thought, speech, press, etc . . .
- Give greater autonomy of local elected officials by the people.
- Give the civil servant power to initiate policies, and refuse to do something illegal asked by their cabinet ministers.
- Stop limiting the progressive oppositions political parties.
- Respect the people's will.
- Encourage national, stimulating debate with various individuals and institutions in the country.
- Demilitarize the police forces in the country and allow them to exist under the local administrations.
- Expand the educational systems. Educate the people. Invest more in universities and colleges.
- Open to the people the work of the government.
- Stop hiring foreigners - and give the Opportunities to the Djiboutians.