The world news is dominated by a certain head of state who has been creating quite a few waves in his home country and around the world. Despite being overshadowed, this week has been quite a big one for Somalis.
The country held elections on Wednesday which saw the election of the former Prime Minister as the new Head of State. The election had been delayed for months and there were more than 20 candidates, most of whom were divided among clan lines. The election was held in an airport hangar at Aden Adde International Airport, Mogadishu, the safest place in Somalia. Mohamed Farmajoo was declared president in a peaceful transition of power after incumbent President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud conceded defeat and congratulated the victor.
This is quite hopeful for a country that is fighting quite a few battles, starting from Al-Shabaab, a struggling economy and a few more other issues. Nonetheless, the peaceful transfer of power between two people who have different visions for their country is a great lesson for many East African countries, including Burundi. Although it has been out of the news cycle, the elections in Burundi have created a huge backlash from the government that has been silencing opposition.
The other major news for Somalis is the Kenyan court decision issued today stating that the government’s plan to close the Dadaab refugee camp is illegal. The camp began to grow with the outbreak of instability and violence in Somalia in the early 1990’s and is currently home to approximately 260 000 refugees.
Last year, after suffering attacks by Al-Shabaab in different parts of the country, the Kenyan government announced that it will be closing the camp and repatriating the refugees back to Somalia. The government claimed that its decision was based on intelligence that Al-Shabaab has been using the camp as a hiding place and was planning attacks from there.
Judge John Mativo, who issued the decision on Dabaab, ruled that closure of the camp violates Kenya’s constitution. His ruling stated that plans to close the camp are “arbitrary, discriminatory and undignifying and hence a violation of Articles 27 and 28 of the constitution and consequently the same is null and void”. The Kenyan government has issued a stating saying that it will appeal the court’s decision as it believes the closure of the camp is necessary for national security. Does that sound familiar? Reminds me of a certain ban that is being argued in court as necessary for “national security”, but that’s a topic for another day.
Honestly though, how about that for a case-law in checks and balances in government? Many times our courts are called imbalanced, biased, unfair and more. There is a plethora of examples that can so that. But this particular court decision is one that we should also take into consideration. The court is standing up to the government and telling them their actions are unconstitutional.
The cynic in me wants to doubt whether this decision will be upheld during appeal. The hopeful in me wants to celebrate a court that is doing exactly what it is meant to do: make an independent decision. It is moments like these that make me question: does this system actually work?