Fixing the Transitional Process for Somalia (2000-2011).(By:-Ahmed Abdisalam Adan).
Successive Somali Transitional National Governments established since 2000 have all been characterized by incessant internal conflict among the top leadership, lack of progress on the key transitional tasks and the failure to build functioning institutions. These transitional national governments formed through the Arta Peace Process in 2000, Kenya Peace Process in 2004 and Djibouti Peace process in 2009, all encountered similar challenges that severely undermined their fragile institutions, eroded the confidence and support of the people and eventually forced them to disintegrate. Meanwhile, in the absence of viable alternatives, Somali political forces and international actors concerned about the evolving situation in Somali continue to scramble to assemble various political actors for yet another peace conference outside the country and try to fill the impending institutional void by extending the transitional process for national governance in Somalia.
a. Persistent political wrangling
The Transitional National Government ( TNG) established through the Arta ( Djibouti) Peace process in 2000 was hampered by the row between the President Abdiqasim Salad Hassan and his Prime Ministers Dr. Ali Khalif Galeydh and Hassan Abshir respectively. While the President managed to remove both PMs through the Parliament his government was severely weakened by these internal discords and thus unable to carry out its tasks and fulfill its mandate. With the imminent collapse of the TNG barely 3 years into its term, preparations for a national peace conference started in Nairobi to fill the vacuum in the form of alternative transitional government for Somalia.
Similarly, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) established through the Kenya Peace Process in 2004 was hampered by sharp divisions between its top leaders President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed and Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan soon after its inception.
The President managed to oust the first speaker in 2006, but soon became embroiled in another political row with the then Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Geedi. After Months of tension, political impasse and public divisions within the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs), Prime Minister Geedi was pressured to resign late 2007. By the time the new Prime Minister took office in early 2008, the TFG was already in the final year of its term and displayed the scars of the previous internal power struggle of its leadership. Expectedly, the TFG and its international sponsors could only use the remaining year of its mandate to initiate a process that could extend the transitional mechanism for additional period. Unfortunately, the TFG leadership could not avoid the internal wrangling that has already fragmented the fragile transitional institutions. By the end the year the public row between the President and Prime Minister Nur Adde concluded with the forced resignation of the President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed eight months before the end of his term.
The 2009 Djibouti Peace Agreement which extended the life of the TFG led by Sharif Sh.Ahmed under the presidency has also been plagued by the same mistrust and political discord among the leadership of the TFIs over the past year. A serious rift between the former speaker, Sh. Adan Madoobe and former PM, Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke over differing interpretations of the authority and power of their respective institution, led to the forced removal of Sh. Adan from the Speaker. This was immediately followed by intense power struggle between the President and PM Sharmarke that concluded with the resignation of the PM in September 2010. Unsurprisingly, the showdown shifted to the two remaining leaders of the TFIs, the President and the Speaker, over the process of selecting and endorsing the executive branch, namely the Prime Minister and the cabinet. Like the previous rows, this conflict is aggravated by the apparent mistrust between the two leaders, which makes the choice of the new PM much more critical to their political survival in the zero-sum game of present day Somali politics. In the end, a compromise cabinet provided both sides some assurance to move forward, concluding the two month long bitter wrangling among the TFG leadership. Predictably, the row between the President and the Page 3
Speaker re-ignited as the end of the government mandate approaches, and discussions shift to post transition arrangements.
While there are marked differences between the successive transitional Somali governments established since 2000, in terms of time, actors involved, process and circumstances, etc. they were all weakened by persistent internal political conflict between the leaders of the various transitional institutions
II. Structural defects in the Development Process of the Transitional Governments
A closer examination of how the transitional governments for Somalia were established in the past provide some clues that may help explain the source of the recurring internal power struggles that consistently manage to run-down the fragile experiment to the ground before it takes-off. Key components of the development process include; conference participation / delegates, the conference agenda and program, arrangements and agreements reached and the international/regional sponsors that help manage, fund and provide legitimacy to the process and its outcome.
1) The Political Actors ( Conference Participants/delegates)
Once the call for the reconciliation conference is announced, self-appointed political leaders, claiming to represent clan/ sub-clans, regional authority, political organization/ factions, social movement, interest group and Diaspora associations generally converge to the site of the peace conference. While the majority of these individuals come from outside the country, they skillfully use their connections and affiliations to the local clans, groups, sponsors, etc and manage to include themselves into the official conference delegates, and hence a seat at the decision-making table. Naturally, once the political elites and Diaspora delegates dominate the conference program and committees, the agenda shifts away from the critical issues of security and stabilization, local administrations, institutional building, humanitarian crisis, addressing deep seated grievances, past crimes and impunity, etc. Instead, the deliberations move to superficial reconciliation, political power sharing arrangements and intense campaigning for top seats in the newly formed institutions, as was rightly observed by scholars, „to the frustration of external moderators, the Somali delegates
showed no interest in resolving conflict issues and only became engaged when the subject turned to power-sharing.‟
Expectedly, participants of these conferences manage to occupy the top political positions, utilizing all the means necessary, including corruption and political deal making. However, once in office many of these political actors show their limitations in terms of understanding the dynamics on the ground, as well as lack of critical political base and support from local populations. These limitations often force leaders of the respective transitional governments to rely more on external support, rather than seeking local legitimacy and indigenous solutions to the critical challenges on the ground.
2) The Process of the Peace conference
Since 2000, three national governments were reconstituted for Somalia through elaborate peace conferences organized outside the country. The Arta Peace Process in Djibouti produced the Transitional National Government (TNG) in 2000, the Kenya Peace Process established the Transitional Federal Government in 2004, and the Djibouti Peace Process extended the TFG for another 2 years in 2009. In the process, the objectives /goals, participation, agenda, agreements and expected outcome for the conference is outlined.
While the main objectives of the past national peace processes remained the same „reconciliation among the Somalis‟ and „creation of transitional government‟ there has been little success in either of these goals for the past eleven years of transitional period. On the contrary, the country has largely descended further into localized conflict and destruction, with diminishing hope for the return of functioning state institutions in Somalia.
a. Lack of genuine reconciliation among the Somali people
During the past two decades, the nature of the conflict in Somalia has been shifting from macro level, between national groups and clans, and transforming more into localized hostilities and rivalries between sub-clans and communities within the same territories. This requires the peace processes not only to bridge the gap between the political leaders in the conference, but also to develop a meaningful plan to heal the deep seated mistrust and local grievances that fuel continued rivalries and fragmentation within the communities. Page 5
However, it seemed that in the past peace discussions, little effort were devoted to resolving conflict issues, and to restore the needed trust and confidence among the local populations and communities. Instead, the deliberations were often dominated by superficial pronouncements of reconciliation, forgiveness and idealistic pledges for cessation of all hostilities. While these rather simplistic proclamations can have positive effect on the ongoing peace process, there has been limited success to implement such constructive resolutions at the local level.
During the Peace Process of the past decade, it was quite clear that neither the political conflict between the warring parties at the national level was resolved, nor the internal grievances of local communities addressed. For instance, during the Arta, Djibouti 2000 Peace conference, it was obvious the absence of the armed factions „warlords‟ from the peace agreement could undermine the newly established transitional institutions once they are relocated back to the country. Once in office, the TNG leadership failed to continue the reconciliation process and bring the armed opposition into the transitional process, precipitating its downfall. The Kenya conference tilted the pendulum to the other side, practically empowering the armed faction leaders at the expense of the other stakeholders, including the civil society, opposing political actors, etc. Predictably, the outcome of the two years long Kenya peace negotiations only added more fuel to the deep divisions and competing rivalries among the Somali political factions and clans, as was rightly alerted by the ICG report soon after the conclusion of the conference in late 2004. “The declaration, in Kenya, of a Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in October 2004 was heralded as a breakthrough in Somalia’s protracted crisis of statelessness and civil strife. But the peace process has gone largely downhill since then. The Transitional Federal Parliament’s choice for interim president, Colonel Abdillahi Yusuf Ahmed, is divisive and controversial. To many Somalis, his election represents not a step toward peace but continuation of the war by other means”.
Similarly, the Djibouti 2008 peace discussions which sought to incorporate the armed insurgency into the transitional process went into political campaigning and election process without arresting the violence on the ground and addressing the internal rifts within the two camps of the ARS and the TFG. Despite the considerable challenges of implementing the security agreement between the two parties and unifying the TFG and ARS forces in Page 6
Mogadishu, the entire peace process shifted into a leadership contest for replacing President Abdullahi Yusuf following his unexpected resignation in December 2008. Expectedly, the election euphoria and raised expectations from the Djibouti process began to wear down as the realities on the ground and conflicts previously avoided (ignored) started to confront the newly renewed institutions once they were relocated back to the country. Definitely, externally driven peace processes for Somalia failed to consider the relevance and value of addressing local grievances among the Somali communities and political factions, and as a result prolonged the conflict and statelessness for the country.
The fact that the election of the leaders marked the conclusion of peace process further highlights the disconnection between the externally driven peace process and the realities on the ground. In all the past Somali conferences, the entire reconciliation process abruptly came to an end once the leadership of the transitional institutions are elected / selected, shifting the responsibility for the Somali nation entirely to the newly designated individuals. To make matters worse, soon after the celebrations and self-congratulations for a job well-done, the embryonic transitional institutions are shipped back to the country, with no preparations, resources, support base or foundation to build on.
b. Fragile Legal Base – ‘Peace Agreements’ and ‘Transitional Charter’
The second major problem in the Somali peace processes is the consistent failure to develop a comprehensive agreement with detailed implementation plan, including the realistic timeline, resources allocation and clear roles and responsibilities. Indeed, the legal instruments that served the basis of the peace agreements in the past were often relegated to a secondary role during the conference proceedings, and generally developed in haste, with limited input and involvement from the participants of the reconciliation process. As a result, the produced documents „Transitional Charter’ or ‘Peace Agreement’ usually do not reflect the local realities and challenges on the ground, lacks clarity and often contains inconsistent or contradictory articles that leave room for different interpretation, disagreement and manipulation.
Another major weakness in all the previous peace agreements was the absence of arbitration or enforcement mechanism that could hold the parties accountable and ensure the full Page 7
implementation of the terms of the agreement. Given the fragile nature of peace agreements in conflict societies such as Somalia, it would have been useful to develop, during the peace process, a credible, independent institution that is authorized to monitor the implementation of the agreement, and provide necessary clarification when there are differences in interpretation of clauses of the peace accord.
Successive transitional governments have consistently and deliberately violated the spirit and the letter of the agreements they signed during the peace process. In defense for their autocratic behavior and disregard for the peace settlements, leaders of the transitional institutions often assert their sovereignty rights and claims of internal affairs, despite their over-reliance of external support for existence. In fact, the deliberate misuse and manipulation of the Transitional Charter and other legal instruments for personal and political interests contributed to the widening legitimacy-gap and increasing mistrust of the public towards the successive transitional governments. Furthermore, TFG leaders have consistently and willfully manipulated the judiciary institutions for their narrow political motivations. Expectedly, such cynical intrusions of the legal mechanisms basically compromised the credibility, independence, and effectiveness of the fragile justice system at this critical transitional period. The on-going squabble of the TFIs over the appointment of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court only confirms the extent of the deepening exploitation of the justice system by the leadership.
3) The role of International Actors in the Peace Process.
The international community is the third important ingredient in organization of the Peace conference outside the country to reconstruct the transitional governments for Somalia. The international actors play multiple roles, including providing neutral space for the warring parties, sponsoring and hosting the conference, as well as backing and legitimizing the 1`outcome. In short, the international community make it possible for the conference to succeed and is expected to show similar commitment and resolve to the ensuring the implementation of the peace agreements and the execution of the transitional tasks. However, it seems that the international community fell into the same trap as the Somali political elites, overtaken by the high-level political campaigns and hollow rhetoric of reconciliation at the conference deliberations. Page 8
Obviously, the significant presence and involvement of international community representatives at the peace conferences attests to their interest and commitment to helping the Somalis resolve the crisis that has plagued their country. But, it is also apparent that the international community has not adequately utilized its facilitation role in the peace process to appropriately guide the deliberations to the critical issues in the country, pressure the Somali parties to consider the challenges on the ground, and ensure that the transitional mechanisms produced had the capacity to carry out the tasks and responsibilities outlined within the mandate. In short, it seems international actors often opt for the shortsighted „quick-fix‟ propositions from the Somali political elites as a solution to the very complex and protracted problems of Somalia.
Furthermore, the role international community is not well defined in the implementation phase of the peace agreements. Even though the international community provides the political legitimacy, financial support and in some cases security protection to assist the newly developed transitional institutions function, their involvement did not go far enough to serve as „Guarantors‟ for the effective implementation of the accords reached. The International Community‟s response was tested when the Somali political actors showed their disregard for the Transitional Charter when they failed to meet the required 12% representation for women MPs, soon after it was approved in the 2004 Peace conference. The feeble response from the international diplomats to hold the Somali leaders accountable to their legal commitments only encouraged TFI leaders to manipulate existing legal instruments for their own use. Recent examples include President Sharif Sh. Ahmed‟s open violation of the power sharing arrangement between the TFG and ARS under Djibouti Peace Agreement, with the tacit consent of the international community. When in late November 2010, the speaker of the TFP single handedly confirmed the new Cabinet without the required MPs vote of confidence, the international community cheered quietly. In this case, the international actors were more concerned with breaking of the political stalemate within the TFIs, rather than the deliberate breach of the Transitional Charter that lay the foundation of the TFIs. But, when the Members of Parliament (MPs) recently extended their term for three more years, following the IGAD, AU and UN suggestions, the response from many international actors was quick, critical and unusually harsh in tone. In return, the MPs Page 9
immediately highlighted the conflicting approaches of the international community, shifting the blame to the International actors and asking them to refrain from their internal matters.
Obviously, these specific examples point to a broader problem of the emergent Transitional institutions for Somalia, where the decision making process is often driven by personalities and their self-serving motives, rather than by the rule of law, consensus and common interests. In reality, such wanton disrespect for legality and legal mechanisms within the TFI leadership may help explain the dismal failure of successive governments to revive some elements of the judiciary systems at the district, regional or national levels for more than a decade. The apparent inconsistencies of the international community‟s approach to the Somali institutions, coupled with the absence of effective accountability mechanisms that can hold the signatories and especially the leadership of the TFIs responsible for their actions contributed to widening deep mistrust of the public towards the transitional government, persistent internal rows among the leadership and the failure to make any progress on the transitional tasks during the term in office.
III. The Outcome / Result:
Somali transitional governments produced outside the country consistently demonstrated their inherent limitations to manage and overcome the serious challenges that confront them soon after their relocation back to the country. Some of these recurring deficiencies can be traced back to the organization of the peace processes that facilitated the creation of the transitional institutions. Critical defects in these reconciliation processes include; weak representation, legitimacy and broad-based support; emphasis on power-sharing over genuine reconciliation; focus on political campaigning rather than negotiating viable settlement on key issues and challenges; inconsistencies and contradictory roles and approaches of the international community towards the TFIs.
Expectedly, the products from these subsequent processes, the transitional institutions, come with significant drawbacks that undermined their effectiveness, paralyzed their performance and contributed to their predictable failures. Successive transitional institutions established in the past decade consistently manifested numerous structural defects including, persistent conflict among the leadership; deliberate misuse of legal instruments; emphasis on Page 10
group loyalty and tribal solidarity over principles, laws, agreements, institutions and systems; over reliance on external support to compensate for internal legitimacy-gap and disconnection from local realities; superficial and quick-fix tactics over indigenous, genuine problem solving strategy; corruption, misappropriation and mismanagement of public resources; and leadership driven by selfish political motives and personal ambitions, etc.
IV. The Way Forward
Even though, a diverse group of political actors, including seasoned politicians, warlords, intellectuals and moderate Islamists took the helm of the tentative project to create transitional institutions in the past decade, they all managed to self-destruct the fragile experiments. Of course, those in charge of these transitional initiatives can‟t escape their share of the blame and must take ownership for their incompetence and poor leadership. But, it would be rather simplistic and shortsighted to put the blame for the repeated dysfunction solely on the behavior of individual leaders, without considering other contributing factors. This brief analysis clearly demonstrates that the biggest challenges that destabilized the transitional institutions in question can be generally associated with structural deficiencies of the peace processes that produced them. The inherent limitations of these processes in terms of involving legitimate representation, achieving genuine reconciliation and developing viable agreements, among others, continuously hamper the newly formed transitional institutions to launch effectively and start functioning, soon after their relocation back to the country.
It is therefore, quite critical that any effort to develop a meaningful strategy for the way forward for the country be built on solid principles, agreed by all the national as well as external stakeholders. These basic principles include;
1) Legitimacy and ownership of the political process.
Over 15 attempts of external national peace conferences for Somalia have failed to revive the collapsed central state, produce functioning institutions and restore peace and stability for the country for more than 20 years. A major reason for the recurring failure is the limited participation and genuine representation by the relevant stakeholders in the conferences and lack of ownership of the political process by the Somalis. Since the Page 11
prolonged conflict and statelessness in the country lead to disintegration and fragmentation of the society, it is quite critical to ensure a broad-based participation in the political process and that all the segments of the society are truly involved. It is only when the legitimate representatives of the Somali communities come together, properly asses their situation, negotiate practical solutions and take collective responsibility for achieving it, that meaningful progress can be expected. The agenda and issues deliberated must be determined by the Somalis and reflect their genuine concerns and aspirations. In short, Somalis must be in charge of their destiny and in the process restore their trust in each other and regain their pride and dignity.
2) Security improvement linked to political progress.
The prolonged conflict and statelessness in Somalia for more than two decades is not due to the insecurity and lawlessness in the country, but is the result of the lack of viable political solution for the nation. Indeed, the deteriorating security situation along with the shifting conflict dynamics, from clan conflict, factional and warlords, extremist militancy to external intervention all point to the absence of a meaningful political settlement among the Somalis. There were a number of times in the past 20 years when the various political authorities of the day managed to overpower their rivalries militarily, but failed politically to win over accommodate their rivals and broaden their legitimacy. That is why the tangible international support to the Somali security sector for the past few years have failed to materialize, in the absence of corresponding political progress. In fact, there is a growing recognition that the Shabaab extremists represent a political challenge, rather than security threat. And, therefore, any effort to strengthen security and create stability in Somalia, must consider parallel progress on the political front to ensure lasting solution.
3) Bottom-up approach to peace and state building
Decade long efforts to create durable peace and stability in Somalia through top-down central governance approach have so far failed. The externally sponsored peace processes have not managed to reestablish functioning centralized institutions and restore order in the capital city, let alone expand to the regions and districts of the country. The only exception has been in Somaliland and Puntland where local communities have managed to restore some level of order and administration in their areas. Unfortunately, the leadership of the Page 12
successive transitional governments failed to see the relevance of strengthening local administrations as a way to broaden their authority and legitimize their institution.
As a result, a major segment of the Somali population living in the districts, villages and rural communities outside the capital city remained largely disconnected from the governance experiments, along with the limited resources that came with it from the international community. Expectedly, this gap facilitated effortless takeover of much of South-Central Somalia by the radical Shabaab forces. Any attempt to reconnect to these communities, create stability and broaden governance must combine the current top-down approach for centralized state-building with grass-roots level community mobilization strategy to build localized institutions from the bottom-up. Somalis do not have to go far to see the difference. In both Somaliland and Puntland, local leaders and elders have already demonstrated that the bottom-up approach to peace-building is a viable model for reconciling local clans, strengthening local security and stability, and building legitimate institutions for service delivery, resource management and political expression. This administrative decentralization approach has been consistent with the growing demand of Somalis for a federal system of governance, in the latest national reconciliation conferences of Arta and Kenya, respectively.
An effective bottom-up strategy must be built around the four interlinked pillars of reconciliation, security, administration and economic development at the local level in a systematic and well-coordinated approach.
a. Localized community level reconciliation
The Somali conflict is no longer between the major Somali clans along the so- called 4.5 segments. Instead, the mistrust and suspicions is between the sub-clans who share common dwelling and settlement. The collapse of the state institutions, coupled with the weakened traditional institutions left deep seated disputes and grievances among these groups unresolved, contributing to further fragmentation and tension at the local communities. These grievances among the local communities and sub-clans that generally live in the same localities provided Shabaab militants with the most effective tool in their takeover and control of much of South Central Somalia. Page 13
A simple scan of the districts and regions throughout the country clearly show direct link between the strength of Shabaab militants in the area and the level of grievances and mistrust among the local communities. Examples of territories where Shabaab extremists have skillfully exploited the discord and lingering suspicions among local communities include, Hawadle vs Gaalje’l sub-clans in Hiiraan region, Marehan vs Ogaden sub-clans in Kismayo region, Murusade vs Hiraab in Central regions, Hadamo vs Ligsay sub-clans in Bay/Bakool regions, and Reer Mataan vs Harti -Abgaal in Banadir region, to name a few. In all these cases, local sub-clans with claims of past injustices against other local communities have tactically opted to endure the occupation and collective punishment of Shabaab militants, until their grievances are redressed through genuine reconciliation and trust restored.
Local level reconciliation among the clans and sub-clans of the targeted areas would be a key step to bridge the gap, regain trust and restore the unity and cooperation among local community members. The purpose of this local reconciliation is to bring an end to all active hostilities and tensions, to resolve internal conflicts at the community level, and to pave the way for genuine collaboration on strengthening security and establishing functioning administrations in their local setting. Somali traditional leaders and religious elders are well equipped to facilitate such crucial discussions among their populations using their indigenous systems. Indeed, Somali traditional systems have well developed tools, for resolving disputes through mediation, managing local conflicts and maintaining peace. However, the prolonged conflict and continued lawlessness throughout the country weakened the indigenous mechanisms of the Somali people, leaving them vulnerable to the misuse and exploitation of political actors and faction leaders. It is, therefore, quite important that credible, respected political leaders from the communities affected, get involved in the reconciliation process and contribute to its successful conclusions. The constitutional making process can be adequately utilized to facilitate dialogue and reconciliation among the various clans and populations in local communities.
b. Building security at the community level
The collapse of the central state in early 1990s, and the ensuing clan warfare forced large numbers of Somali families to seek refuge in areas identified with their clansmen and to return to the safety and the protection of their kinship territories. Consequently, this massive re-settlement led to the creation of exclusive clan enclaves, which in effect, consolidated the inherent loyalty to kinship affiliations. As a result, traditional leadership has taken over the added responsibilities for the security and survival of local communities, following the collapse the central state. Twenty years later and countless efforts to revive the decomposed centralized governance; the country is largely segmented into clan territories, with authority and decision-making practically entrenched with local traditional elders and community leaders.
Repeated attempts by successive transitional governments to reestablish the Somali National Forces and restore peace and security throughout the country have all been unsuccessful to date. The reason is mainly due to the central authorities‟ failure to take into account the dramatic transformations that forced this clan-based society to resort back to their indigenous social structures in administering matters of common concern to their local clans such as peace and security. Clearly, efforts aimed to promote effective security need to properly utilize the proliferation of local clan militias that is already operating in these communities, largely serving as defense forces for clan territories. Surely, this localization approach to security is already in place in much of the country. The TFG forces in the capital are predominantly „Banadir Regional Forces‟, whereas the Kenya trained forces belong to the Southern-Jubba regions, the Ethiopian trained forces currently stationed along the South-Westren border belong to the Bay, Bakool and Gedo regions, and ASWJ and Hiiraan forces belong to the central regions. This de facto regionalization approach to developing functional security must be reinforced as part of a broader strategy to reconstruct Somalia‟s national security system. Besides, this localized security approach responds effectively to the parallel shifts in today‟s warfare. Clearly, the conventional warfare between nation-states that relied on heavy artillery, tanks and aircrafts is now replaced by irregular warfare that is decentralized in nature and skillfully utilizes social exclusion, political marginalization, ideological appeal, and targeted violence as their preferred weapon of choice. Organizing and empowering local militias to defend their communities against invading extremists, and promote peace and stability in their localities would be a more Page 15
effective and realistic undertaking, than the current top-down approach that have repeatedly failed to deliver, despite the considerable resources invested.
The advantages of this bottom-up approach to security development include the conduct of simultaneous operation s in multiple fronts; increased local community appreciation, ownership, involvement and support to the security operations; reduced risk of defections and weapons sale to the enemy; enhanced intelligence and collaboration from the local populations; and improved effectiveness and success rate. The experiences of self-governing administrations of Somaliland and Puntland have already proven the success of this bottom-up strategy. More recently ASWJ community leaders in Central regions have amply demonstrated that local clan militias, once organized, can effectively defend their communities from the incursions by external forces such as Shabaab extremists, despite their limited resources. Local militias can effectively maintain security, provided they are properly organized, trained and adequately remunerated, and most importantly, afforded the necessary leadership and support from the local communities.
The central government would have a critical role of coordinating the training; equipping and organizing them into professional local police forces that effectively manage the internal security of the districts and regions of the country. In addition, the central authority drawing from these regional forces, can integrate them into national, rapid deployment units that can respond to emergencies and crisis. Furthermore, this bottom-up parallel approach to security development would also allow a more equitable distribution of resources to the various parts of the country, thereby contributing to the confidence building and trust among the various constituents that make up the nation.
c. Local Administrations
The lack of functioning local administrations contributes to the continued lawlessness, recurrent conflicts and absence of basic services through much of the country. Developing local governance institutions is a key step in the process of building durable peace and stability in local communities. Once the shattered relations among the local populations is restored and inter-community confidence and cooperation is revived through the reconciliation process, it is important to quickly follow-up with the establishment of broad-Page 16
based , representative local administrations . Community-based administrations provide much needed coordination of community efforts, deliver essential public services, maintain law and order; stimulate local economy and foster development; promote community cohesion, unity and collaboration, etc.
These days, the proliferation of grass-roots experiments aimed at establishing local governance mechanisms in many parts of the country is a positive step, but requires timely support to make them successful. An increasing number of emergent local administrations exist only in name, but lack the necessary capacities and resources to make them functional. Adequate support in terms of capacity building, organizational skills, financial management, service delivery and running the day-to-day affairs of citizens are critical to making local governments perform. Given the total erosion of state institutions at all levels of governance, restoring functioning local authorities require serious commitment and investment from the international partners as well as the national government.
d. Community economic development
The fourth pillar in this bottom-up approach to state reconstruction involves the development of the local economy, rehabilitation of the local infrastructure, creating employment and other economic opportunities for the local populations. There is growing recognition that the rampant unemployment and hopelessness in the country is forcing hundreds of thousands of Somali youth to abandon their homes in villages, districts and towns throughout the country in search of a better life. Consequently, their deepening desperation pushed thousands into extremism, criminality and piracy, while many more voted with their feet in a mass exodus through the high seas. All of these options come with high risk and diminishing returns, but for these youth, they offer a better alternative than the enduring poverty, desperation and hopelessness that trap them in their communities. Clearly, reestablishing security and basic governance alone in districts cannot guarantee durable stability and peace, without improvements in the lives of the people through gainful employment, economic opportunities and investment in local infrastructure. Page 17
4) Strengthening the Co-ordination Role of the Central State
The proposed bottom-up approach to peace building is not aimed at replacing the role and functions of the Central State. On the contrary, the co-ordination role of the central state needs to be strengthened and legitimized. The distribution of power and responsibilities between the Central government and local State Administrations is clearly defined in the Transitional Federal Charter. What seems to be missing is the genuine attempt to implement these institutional arrangements by the emergent leadership at both levels of governments. Indeed, the critical challenge to the fragile state building experiment in Somalia has been the failure to achieve the right balance between the top down efforts of the central authority and the bottom-up local initiatives and to recognize their interdependence for the realization of durable solution.
5) Independent monitoring and arbitration mechanism
In the absence of functioning judiciary and effective legislatures to counter-balance the excessive powers of the executive branch, during this Transitional phase, it is essential to setup independent mechanism that can steer the transitional government towards a culture of accountability, transparency and responsibility. The cynical manipulation of rules and laws, disregard for agreements, abuse of power, and rampant corruption remain at the forefront of the persistent charges leveled against the TFG leadership, giving rise to credibility gap and reduced confidence in the TFIs. Hence, the creation of this mechanism is intended to compensate for the apparent shortcomings of the transitional processes.
The functions of this monitoring and arbitration mechanism include:
i. To promote full compliance of the Transitional Charter and other applicable laws of the TFIs, and the implementation of agreements entered. The committee will serve as an independent, credible, mechanism to adjudicate and arbitrate the disagreements by senior TFI leadership over the interpretation of the Transitional Charter and other applicable laws and regulations. The committee will have responsibility for making final decisions that are binding.
ii. To strengthen good governance, equity, transparency and accountability of the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs). In this capacity, the committee will monitor the
institutional culture, administrative procedures and dealings with external partners of the TFIs, with the view to identify potential problems, and make corrective measures and appropriate interventions in a timely manner.
iii. To mediate disputes over functions, roles, responsibilities and distribution of power between the central government and emerging regional states. One of the major challenges facing political authorities in the country is finding the right balance between the need to empower local citizens through decentralization and devolution of powers to local authorities, with the desire for the unifying approach of strong centralized governance. So far, attempts to reach acceptable power distribution arrangements for the two levels of governments have only managed to intensify the internal conflict between the respective political leaders. This commission could play a pivotal role in facilitating the delicate negotiations between these levels of governments.
iv. To monitor the timely completion of the transitional tasks. Successive transitional governments have consistently failed to undertake the necessary tasks during their mandate. Hence, the pressure for term extension of the transitional mechanisms to avert imminent institutional void becomes justified, despite the lack of credible plan to complete the tasks within the new mandate. This independent commission could provide external oversight and support to the relevant TFIs as they carry out the required activities as planned. The committee could also identify factors and circumstances that impede the implementation of the transitional mandate to allow for proper intervention and necessary adjustments in a timely manner.
The proposed mechanism can be an independent commission, comprising of prominent Somali nationals with the relevant expertise and credibility to undertake such crucial responsibilities. The TFIs, existing regional and local administrations, as well as relevant stakeholders such as civil society, business groups, Diaspora, etc. can be part of the process of identifying and selecting members of this commission. The international community can allocate the necessary resources for the proper functioning of this commission. Clearly, such an instrument is expected to contribute to curtailing the deliberate misuse and manipulation of laws, reduce the recurring leadership disputes, facilitate better cooperation and Page 19
coordination of efforts between various levels of governments and restore confidence, credibility and support for the TFIs. Needless to say, this independent mechanism is not aimed to replace the critical roles of a functioning judiciary and effective legislators to offset the increasingly disproportionate power of the executive branch. Instead, this instrument is intended to fill the apparent credibility gap of the existing TFIs during this transitional phase.
V. Proposed Steps for Action:
Obviously, there are no quick-fix solutions to the myriad of difficulties attributed to the persistent failures of the transitional processes for Somalia. The goal is to better understand the challenges and to undertake practical measures to address these limitations incrementally.
1) The end of the transitional mandate in August presents an opportunity to interject meaningful reform to the TFIs.
Since the Transitional Parliament voted to extend their mandate, the political discourse, both inside and outside the country, shifted the focus away from attending to the present-day challenges of the nation. Precious time and resources seem to have been diverted to shaping the future political course of the transitional process, motivated largely by selfish political ambitions. A year has now passed since the internal political struggles of the leaders managed to destabilize the current government, and indeed, all indications point to further escalation of the political tension with the approaching end of the term. It is, therefore, more realistic to close the current chapter and concentrate efforts on adequately preparing for the extension of the transitional period. Suggestions for the reform of the parliament may include;
a) Term of Parliament extension to correspond to the level of meaningful reforms implemented by the TFP.
Engagement with the Parliament will be more productive if the discussions are centered on addressing its weaknesses through a bold reform agenda and a detailed implementation plan. Such strategy would shift the burden of proof to the Parliament and would force the members to look inward and engage in the process of internal development. If the Parliament fails to undertake the necessary reforms and meet the agreed benchmarks, then their term could be justifiably curtailed. Page 20
i) Legitimize and strengthen representation of parliamentarians to their constituents
Facilitating meaningful connection of the members of the parliament to their constituents / communities that are relatively peaceful is crucial to making the current parliament function regardless of the term of their extension. The role and functions of federal MPs to the communities they represent must be redefined in partnership with the local authorities. A realistic work plan, with clear benchmarks and specific outcomes should be developed for MPs to accomplish in their constituents. These activities could include, local level reconciliation, forming caucuses to advocate for regional interests, or specific issues and interest groups such as minority rights, facilitating discussions on the constitutional making process, etc. MPs support package can be directly linked to their constituency involvement.
ii) Enhance the leadership of the TFP
The persistent dysfunction of the TFP can be attributed in large measure to the deficiencies of its leadership. This can be rectified by removing the restrictions placed in the selection process for the leadership of the TFP. Currently only MPs can run for the leadership of the parliament. Opening the competition for the leadership of the TFP to both internal (MPs) and external candidates, similar to all the other senior offices of the TFIs, should raise both the profile and competences of the elected officials.
iii) Serious reform to the Parliamentary Committees.
Parliamentary Committees need to be reorganized, redesigned and redeveloped to enable them share responsibilities and duties with the leadership of the TFP. Once membership of various committees are selected based on their capacities and skill sets, they will be able to undertake their monitoring and oversight roles as well as initiating and developing relevant legislations. Page 21
b) Election of the President and Speakership offices before the end of the term must be settled.
The current escalation in the political wrangling between the President and the Speaker is driven, in part, by the struggles of the current leadership to manipulate the post transitional arrangements in their favor as the mandate of the current government ends. If the leaders of the transitional governments are allowed to hold onto power and extend their term of office without a consensus and acceptable inclusive process, it could revive armed power struggle as a means to office and undermine the peace agreements.
c) Establish Independent Election Commission
To compensate for the lack of confidence and poor credibility of the current Transitional Federal Parliament, it would be wise to create an indigenous Independent Election Commission to manage the upcoming election process for the leadership of the TFIs. Setting-up such a credible and neutral body should reduce the incessant charges of bribes and payoffs that have tarnished the reputation of the parliament institution and tainted the election process and its outcome.
2) Constitution making process must be re-activated with the vigorous involvement and full participation of the relevant national stakeholders.
While the Constitutional making Process has been underway for the past several years, its utility as a viable tool to facilitate constructive dialogue among the Somali people and reconstruct the fragmented nation back together has not been fully exploited. The continued lingering questions and cynical manipulation of this mechanism by the leadership of the TFIs undermine its relevance and prolong the results anticipated. The constitutional making process can be skillfully employed by local communities in the process of reconciling their diverse populations and developing functioning local administrations.
3) Strengthen bottom-up approaches and indigenous local solutions.
It is critical to adjust the centralizing tendency of the successive transitional governments and support local initiatives that attempt to create stability, promote reconciliation, Page 22
strengthen local administrations and promote economic development. ASWJ efforts in central Somalia and the current localized security operations in Gedo region should be promoted as an effective alternative to the domination of the Shabaab extremists. The disappointing experience of ASWJ in drawing modest financial and political support from the central government and the international donor community for the past two years, despite their remarkable success in defending their communities from the extremists, doesn‟t inspire confidence and encourage others to follow.
4) Establish credible monitoring and arbitration mechanism.
The use and relevance of this independent mechanism has been amply explained above. It is only noted here to stress that it is now timely to introduce this instrument as part of the broader reform and re-activation of the transitional institutions following the end of the mandate.
5) Imposing sanctions and punitive measures.
When all other interventions fail, sanctions have proven effective in the past to persuade Somali political leaders to act responsibly. The sooner the message of their availability and potential use as a last resort is effectively conveyed, the better the chance for positive political settlement. All indications of the present political discourse in Mogadishu point out that the international community may have to resort to punitive measures in order to exert pressure on the political leaders of the TFI and force compliance.
Mr. Ahmed Abdisalam Adan is former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Information of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia. Mr. Adan headed the government negotiating team of the Djibouti Reconciliation Conference that successfully concluded with the formation of a National Unity Government and the election of the current President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed in 2009. In 1999, Mr. Adan co-founded Somalia’s first independent broadcaster, HornAfrik Media Inc. in Mogadishu, Somalia serving as its Managing Partner and Director of Programs until 2007. HornAfrik’s growing public support attracted global recognition including 2002 CJFE Press Freedom Award for its work in the face of adversity. After decade long operation, HornAfrik became victim 0f the incessant violence, lawlessness and extremism in Somalia and was shut down by Al-Shabaab insurgents in 2010, following targeted assassinations of a number of its journalists and management, including one of the co-founders.
Ahmed can be contacted – email@example.com