by Abdullahi Jama
Monday, March 14, 2011
The recently announced extension of the term of the Transitional Federal Parliament (TFP) for further 3 years is illegitimate (according to Transitional Federal Charter Art 34). The promoters of this idea aim at maintaining the current dreadful status quo.
The TFP’s background may provide some important clues. This institution originated from the political process of Embagathi, Kenya (2002-2004) and culminated in the election of Col Abdullahi Yusuf, as the President of TFG. Thus, it is an IGAD or say an Ethiopian product. According to the Transitional Federal Charter (TFC), a warlord and an elder retain the right to choose an MP. Most of the 275 MPs were chosen, not on the basis of their capability but, their adherence to the Ethiopian policies. Few honest MPs permeated the system for different reasons under different circumstances; nevertheless, most of them have now left the TFP. The Djibouti Process in 2009, which doubled the number of MPs to 550, was even less transparent than Embagathi. The whole block of 275 MPs were flunky yes-men from ARS, handpicked by the Sheriffs to suit their narrow selfish interest. Both groups of MPs, apart from their bloated number and incoherent political views, came up as a result of foreign driven initiative. The TFIs (government &parliament) are tainted by rampant corruption and unscrupulous greed (ICG Africa Report No.170, Feb. 2011). Therefore, it can be argued that such a political entity which is kept on “life support” as Crisis Group confirmed, lacks legitimacy in the eyes of its people. Its dissolution (even if it comes to it) would not adversely affect the facts on the ground. In view of the fact that their vote, undoubtly, goes to the highest bidder, allowing them to extend their term and elect leaders of the country is tantamount to legalizing their misconduct. It is also a travesty of justice that robs Somali people of their right to chose credible leaders.
To the International Community
If the International efforts to reconstitute Somalia’s failed state are to succeed, the MPs of the current TFP should be replaced right after August 2011.The selection process should begin now and Somali ownership of such process should be guaranteed.
The Obama administration ought to recognise the flaws of Bush administration’s policies toward Somalia, which brought misery and destruction for the impoverished people of Somalia. The US and the EU could help by gearing the so called “dual-track policy” to rekindle friendship with Somali people. The following steps need to be taken:
1. Allow south-central Somalia to revamp its political system, and hold a national conference inside Somalia, in order to reinstate its social bonds and resolve the pity tribal conflicts (under a shed of a tree), without the meddling of the neighbouring states.
2. To assist self-administered entities such as Somaliland, Puntland and Galmudug more vigorously in terms of infrastructure and job opportunities, until a credible administration emerges from the south-central Somalia.
3. To reiterate the current US position that rejects the extension of TFP for another three years even if the TFG seizes more territory from Al-Shabab. Seven years of TFG is enough to judge their true colour, they can no longer be trusted.
To the AU, IGAD and AMISOM
1. The recommendations of the AMISOM arranged conference in Accra on 28 February-2 March 2011 endorsing the extension of TFP is heartbreaking and ill-conceived. It is yet another foreign driven agenda that will surely cause more harm than good. Where were the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) and African National Parliaments (ANP) for the last 7 years? If Africa has elected parliamentarians why they deny Somalis to choose credible representatives that can work with PAP and ANP, while advancing the interest of Somali people? Once again, the AU is losing the hearts and minds of the Somali people-They should heed to the suggestions of donor countries who are more in line with the feelings of common folk in Somalia.
2. The recent offensive led by the TFG leaders against Al-Shabab and assisted by AMISOM is, solely, aimed at winning approval for TFIs extension beyond August 2011.
3. While bringing more territory under the government control is, per se, a welcome development, it is ill-advised to launch such operation with no political back-up, without which the TFG cannot hold territory for long.
4. A wise move would be to secure the areas under the government control, and bring about a functioning and coherent authority. A military operation alone cannot cure the crisis of governance currently afflicting Transitional Federal Institutions.
To the Somali political leaders, intellectuals and elders.
1. A national conference should be held inside Somalia (as Puntland-Galmudug press conference have suggested), and should formulate new criteria for the selection of MPs.
2. A National Screening Council (NSC) consisting of senior citizens of 45 members could be selected from cross-section of Somali society. This council screens the new MPs on the basis of their background and political record.
3. Constituencies (clans) should pay greater attention to their representatives (who are now being selected as opposed to being elected) and check their leadership quality, more particularly, their Honesty, Humility, and Hardworking- and they should have clear vision based on altruism, patriotism. She/he should be God fearing.
4. Constituencies or clans should reject their compatriots who served the current TFP, particularly those tainted with corruption or known to be covert foreign agents.
5. The conference should explore ways of reducing the number of the current bloated and dysfunctional TFP by70%or more. Ideally, 120-155 MPs should be enough to represent cross-section clan of the Somali society.
6. The current power sharing formula (however distressing) can be maintained temporarily, in order to avoid political bickering among clans.
7. This conference would be the right venue to discuss divisive political issues such as, the future form of Somali state (federal, confederal, autonomous regions or unitary system), and the ways to re-establish a working relationship between Somaliland and the rest of Somalia.
8. Let's not fool ourselves; time has come to recognise that fringe elements from the north-western regions (however benevolent their motives may be) can no longer speak for Somaliland. We should speak to their representatives.
9. Finally, it is hard to imagine how the warlords and unscrupulous political wolves, who have dominated Somalia’s political scene for decades, can be sidelined in a single strike. However, we should try to reduce their influence as much as we can.
The writer is an independent researcher and author of many essays regarding Somali conflict. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org