Saturday, February 28, 2015

Opinions: 2016 Elections and the Challenge of Reuniting Fragmented Somalia




By Abdirahman Mohamed Mohamud Farole
It is ethically dubious and socially irresponsible to remain silent about the ongoing developments in Mogadishu, events that I believe will not lead us to our desired destination. As a long-standing public servant, prominent contributor to major peace conferences that produced interim governments (1991, 2000, and 2002-2004), and former Puntland President, I feel obliged to draw attention to our present predicament and the perilous direction that is being taken.  Further, I wish to remind the Somali public and the wider international community to the long and arduous process we have undergone to end the transition of the Federal Government of Somalia  (FGS).  
The current stage of nation-state building in Somalia is unnecessarily characterised by political infighting, rampant corruption, constitutional violations, and the controversial sacking of two Prime Ministers within two years. Responsibility for such political misconduct must be given to the political-religious minority dominating the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS). It was this group’s political manipulation that created the parliamentary opposition that compelled the appointed 3rd PM to change the composition of his nominated Ministers twice.
Before squandering more precious time and resources on our current political course, we must ask ourselves three important questions: 1) Is Somalia on the right track to 2016 elections? 2) Can Somalia complete the four-year milestones (2012-2016) set out after the conclusion of the Roadmap Process in 2012?  3) Or will the country end up with an undesirable term extension.
The Somali people are interested in and grateful to the international communities’ efforts, (IGAD and other international bodies), to solve the Somali crisis. A brief account of the outcomes of Somali peace processes since 1991 reveals that federalism was borne out of a consultative process and that it conforms to the Somali people’s decentralised cultural traditions. 
In the early months of the Somali conflict, the first Djibouti Peace Conference (15-21 July 1991) brought together leaders of warring factions, prominent citizens, and former civilian statesmen. It included former President Aden Abdulle Osman, former Speaker Sheikh Mukhtar Mohamed Hussein, former Prime Ministers Abdirizak Haji Hussein and Mohamed Ibrahim Egal, who chaired the conference -- aiming to sign a peace agreement and rebuild a viable state to end rampant bloodshed and form a national government. The 1991 agreement was signed by all rebel factions and former statesmen and witnessed by Presidents of Djibouti, Kenya and Uganda, and diplomats from Italy, U.S.A., China, France, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Germany, and Nigeria. Article 4(c) of the Agreement states: “The [1991 Djibouti] Conference agrees to implement Regional Autonomy system in the country and to write this in the Constitution”[1]. Henceforth, the later adopted federalism in 2012 has its origins in 1991.
The second peace conference was held in Djibouti in 2000, although its main focus was on civil society it had two main shortcomings: Somaliland and Puntland boycotted the conference and it bypassed the warlord factions altogether. In addition, former high-ranking Barre regime officials, who were ambitious to return to a centralised power, hijacked the conference and assumed leadership of the interim government. Consequently, they failed to reinstitute governance as Mogadishu warlords saw them as remnants of the ousted regime.
The third peace conference held in Kenya lasted two consecutive years (2002-2004) but was the most effective in terms of inclusiveness and content of the Transitional Federal Charter (TFC), recognising a decentralised system of government whose basis was laid down in Djibouti in 1991.The recognition of federalism in the charter was a milestone. It was able to bring Puntland state on board, as it could only be part of a federal form of national government according to its constitution. The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) restored the seat of power in Mogadishu (Villa Somalia) in 2007, but the Islamic Courts factions, and hard-line terrorist elements within them, engaged in military conflict against the TFG.
In 2008, TFG political engagement with an Islamic Courts faction led by Sharif Sheikh Ahmed produced the Djibouti Agreement, this led to his election with an extra two year mandate as a result of doubling Federal Parliament from 275 MPs (of 2004) to 550 MPs in January 2009; 275 of which were unilaterally nominated by Sharif in Djibouti with the assistance of then head of U.N Political Office for Somalia, Ahmedow Oul Abdullah.  
With Sharif’s election, Somalia entered a new era under the leadership of small ideological sects whose views were out of step with the general public. President Sharif, similar to his successor and current President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, resisted tenaciously against federalisation of Somalia. In June 2012, for example, he stunned Roadmap Signatories and international diplomats present at the historical signing ceremony of Provisional Federal Constitution (PFC) in Nairobi, by announcing that there was “another constitution”. Nonetheless, he signed PFC among other Roadmap stakeholders after he was scorned for his political intransigence.
Sharif and his successor President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud share the common view of governing the country without respecting its existing laws. A national President is expected to work in partnership with the existing administrations to promote federal unity. Alas, their core ideological views contradict devolution of power and principles of national reconciliation.
Case in point, at a meeting in Nairobi on 4 August 2012 between former U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Roadmap Signatories, Sharif publicly opposed the formation of Jubaland State. Likewise, his successor President Hassan did everything in his power to undermine formation of Jubaland and Southwest States. Later, during a visit to Puntland in April 2013, President Hassan speaking at an honorary ceremony told a large public audience: “I was against the Federal Constitution process in the past, but now I was elected with it”. They also manipulated Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamea (ASWJ) a moderate religious group fighting against terrorists in central Somalia.
Reuniting a fragmented Somalia requires adherence to the constitutional framework that its people adopted, but the last two presidents have disregarded this aspiration. It has been evidenced that over 30 articles of Provisional Federal Constitution were illegally tampered with, including important provisions relating to the Upper House of Federal Parliament (which was supposed to be established and voted in the 2012 presidential election) and defining the status of the federal capital. It is worth noting former Constitution Minister and current MP Abdirahman Hosh Jibril and speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari were respectively responsible for signing, stamping, and distributing the tampered version of the constitution to the MPs on the 7th of September, 2012.
It does not seem the remaining tasks can be completed within the coming 18 months. Firstly, we are not on the right track for 2016 goals as much valuable time was lost in the attempts to obstruct the formation of states. Secondly, it is not possible to hold one-man one-vote elections in 2016 in the absence of a conducive environment such as, adequate security, further progress in reconciliation, ability to conduct population census, and provision of adequate financial and logistical capabilities, etc.  Lastly, the problem will only be heightened if term extension would be granted to the political-religious minority dominating the Somali Federal Government. In this last scenario the country would remain entangled in the vicious cycle of political instability experienced for the last 25 years.  
As things stand, it is crucial that the Provisional Federal Constitution be reviewed by responsible, broadly minded federalist elements with wider knowledge of Somali traditional culture, strictly following the provisions of its Chapter 15.  As agreed upon in Garowe Principles, the divisive 4.5 clan formula is limited only to this term. Therefore, the next parliament must be at a constituency level and should be based on a broad community selection.
Abdirahman Mohamed Mohamud (Farole), a prominent contributor to major peace conferences, a long-standing public servant and a former President of Puntland State of Somalia (2009-2013).
[1] “Shirku wuxuu go’aansaday in dalka looga dhaqmo ismaamul goboleed dastuurkana lagu qoro.” See Djibouti Agreement, July 21, 1991.

Abdirahman Mohamed Mohamud (Farole), a prominent contributor to major peace conferences, a long-standing public servant and a former President of Puntland State of Somalia (2009-2013).
Source: garoweonline.com
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