FEATURE: President Hassan Sheikh’s immediate goals for 2023

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MOGADISHU [SMN] – The Federal Government of Somalia led by HE Hassan Sheikh Mohamud turned a new page in 2023 after recording momentous gains on all fronts last year, 2022, while in office for seven months and 15 days.

 

Mohamud will be written in the history book for doing a great job within a short time. He is highly praised for his visible activities, Including launching a fruitful Somali-led military campaign against Al-Shabaab.

In his new year’s nation address, the president said 2023 will be a year of service and work for his government, and also will be the year of re-liberation, completion of the constitution, taking the security responsibility from AU troops, finalization of the debt relief process and expanding public schools.

The Somali security experts believe that 10 months ago, no one could dare to face Al-Shabaab on the battlefields because of its harsh reprisal. But Hassan Sheikh proved that the militants can be defeated.

Al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda’s most powerful East African ally is believed to generate around $100 million per year through multiple funding streams, including extortion of local businesses and individuals.

Since the launch of the all-out offensive last year, Al Shabaab has been losing its grip on power in Somalia after the national army teamed up with Vigilantes locally known as Ma’wisley gained ground.

In a new successful policy by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s government, Somalia is endorsing the use of community fighters to help weed out Al-Shabaab from villages in central and southern regions.

“Once they could not tolerate the intimidation, the extortion, and the abduction of their children, some local clans say they have started fighting Al-Shabaab. We want to support our people to live in peace and dignity,” the president said.

The SNA assault was unpredicted, even for Al-Shabaab. The FGS took the fight inside the militant strongholds in a Somali-led and Somali-owned campaign that drew local and international support.

Hassan Sheikh came up with a new strategy that is based on two things – an ideological war front and cutting Al-Shabaab’s economic lifeline. The government shut down bank accounts linked to the group.

The president said Al-Shabaab will be rooted out from the entire country within 2023 and pledged all liberated areas will receive basic services and humanitarian assistance from the government of Somalia.

Political analysts say Mohamud’s goals are promising move that was difficult to achieve or even tested by his successors. In the record, the ongoing war dealt the biggest blow to Al-Shabaab since 2011.

Debt relief

The debt relief process will help Somalia make lasting change for its people by allowing its external $5.2 billion debt to be irrevocably written off. The World Bank and IMF commended FGS’s economic reforms.

With the support of the global lenders, the government took major steps towards Debt relief under the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. Somalia is the 37th country to reach this milestone, known as the HIPC Decision Point.

As Somalia continues on its path towards stability and development after 30 years outside the international financial system, the normalization of its relations with the international community will re-open access to critical additional financial resources to strengthen the economy, help improve social conditions, raise millions out of poverty, and generate sustainable employment for Somalis.

Debt relief is vital for economic development and self-reliance as it opens the door for foreign investment. Somalia heavily relies on global assistance as 70% of the budget comes from donors.

Constitution

For more than 20 years, the Horn of Africa country has been going through challenges, including power struggles and resource sharing due to the lack of a complete constitution that defines all national issues.

The sitting president put the constitution on the top priorities of the 2023 work plan to move the country out of the endless disputes that the previous leaders failed to fix the state-building problems.

If the mission is accomplished, Somalia is a country with an official complete constitution, which protects the rights of the citizens, and sovereignty and guides the governance system. This is a long-awaited attainment.

Free Education

According to the estimates, as many as 3 million children are out of school in Somalia because of recurrent conflict, drought, and lack of economic power by the parents to pay the monthly fees.

After signing a nearly one billion 2023 budget bill into law, Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud announced last week that the ministry of education will hire a record 3,000 new teachers to try to bridge a wide education gap.

This is meant to address a shortage of teachers at public schools that have hindered learning. Mohamud says special opportunities will be given to districts where there are very few school students and also to areas where Al-Shabaab was dislodged.

The announcement of the expanded education was welcomed by many parents who have been unable to send their children to schools that are fully managed and funded by the country’s government.

Hassan Sheikh’s administration said it will work around the clock to improve the future of the next generation through education and create job opportunities in the country to prevent them from risking their lives on the desperate and dangerous journey abroad.

The government’s plans for this year include making social and political reconciliation in Somalia to find united and strong people who have the same vision and decide their own destiny instead of division.

Judicial reform

President Hassan Sheikh has pledged a transparent and equitable justice system as he initiates drastic changes to Somalia’s vital institutions. The justice system has been criticized for many years.

2023 is a year in which the government faces daunting tasks, including security, army rebuilding, completing the draft constitution, free education delivery, and revival of the shattered economy.

Many Somali people believe that the re-election of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as head of state is a precious opportunity, which will lead the country to full recovery and stand back on its feet after more than 30 years.

The new term of HE President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, an academic and a fresh Ph.D. holder is principally guided by his 2022 election campaign promise “Somalia at Peace with itself and the world”.

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