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2017 London Conference on Somalia: Context and Scope
By Mohamud M Uluso
Tuesday May 2, 2017
A Kleptocratic government - a government whose leaders make themselves rich and powerful by stealing from the rest of the people –monopolized the Somali affairs and interests for the past 4 years. Abuse of power, unprecedented level of corruption (looting), injustice, insecurity, wrong execution of state building strategy, and lack of public service delivery were the lessons and legacies left behind by the kleptocratic government under the leadership of former president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
The 4.5 billion dollars in humanitarian and development grants
reportedly given to Somalia between 2013 and 2016 by the international donors advanced little the statebuilding goals. Unfortunately, the Somali people suffer bad reputation for corruption, disunity, and foreign dependence.
The spontaneous widespread public demonstrations participated by the presidential guard of former president by firing live bullets in the air, upon the election of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed (Formaggio “Cheese”) on February 8, 2017, reflected the public discontent about the performance of the voted out president and hopeful expectations for positive change from the voted in president.
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During the presidential campaign of 2016-2017, all presidential candidates, except the incumbent President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, advocated for quick and real positive change to prevent further deterioration of the Somali situation. President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo shoulders the awesome responsibility of undertaking convincingly and effectively the promised positive changes for the multifaceted problems facing Somalia. Somalia should not remain any longer a privatized country for contractors, looters, terrorists, and polluters.
Although the role of the international community in Somalia is indispensable for many reasons, the immediate challenge against the pledged change is the London Somalia Conference scheduled on May 11, 2017, announced by the British Prime Minister (PM) Theresa May during
her debut speech to the UN General Assembly on September 20, 2016.
The reasons the PM cited for organizing the conference were the leading role British government plays in the fight against Al Shabab and the need to increase the support to the regional countries contributing troops to the African mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and to build the capacity of the Somali security forces. UK, as permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC), positions itself as the UNSC trustee for Somalia. UK nationals holding different international positions are responsible for Somalia.
Immediate government of President Hassan did not share the background and scope of London conference with the Somali people. Practically, the conference challenges the change because it directs the federal government to stay on the course of the last 5 years. This contradicts the general public expectation for changing course to improve the livelihood of the Somali people. In addition, the conference takes place at the backdrop of political changes in the world.
Two major changes that have taken place in the world in 2016 are the election of US President Donald Trump under the nationalistic platform “America First” and the nationalistic decision of the British people to leave the European Union (EU) after more than 40 years of membership. The British Exit (“Brexit”) from the EU will have serious repercussions on the cooperation between Somalia and other European countries. The UK government seeks among others the alliance of US and Norway to face-off with EU members like Germany, Italy, France, and Sweden. The involvement of the Middle East countries and neighboring countries in Somalia is creating political and security tensions.
Wearily enough, the US Administration and UK government have declared their intention of reducing their foreign aid budgets in the next years. This reduction and the declining flow of remittances from western countries due to the international efforts to prevent terrorism funding will negatively affect the recovery of the Somali State. The needed Debt relief and massive aid for public investment depend on long term benchmark performances.
In addition to the leaders of east African countries and other foreign dignitaries, Somali delegations from the federal government, regional states excluding Somaliland State, and representatives of the private sector, diaspora, and civil society are invited. The exclusion of Somaliland could be interpreted as legitimization of its claimed secession or separate status unless such interpretation is dispelled. UK sponsors separately the Somaliland Development Fund.
The core scope of 2017 London Somalia conference is a New Partnership Agreement between the international partners and the federal and state Somali delegations. High Level Partnership Forum (HLPF) will govern the partnership agreement focusing on three themes- improved security, political reform and Governance, and economic development. The conference will approve a Security Pact that will popularize the global agenda on countering terrorism and violent extremism (VE) but will also crowd out the comprehensive approach to statebuilding framework.
The stated goal of the political reform and governance theme is to hold one person one vote elections in 2020. Due to 2016 election experience, many Somalis are very skeptical about free and fair one person one vote election in 2020. Completion of the prerequisites for democratic election, including credible judiciary system and enforceable mechanism, seems far from realization. The economic development theme focuses on the working together of the federal government, regional states, the private sector, and the international donors to jumpstart the national economy.
The working relationship underlying the partnership agreement and security pact countervails the Somali Constitutional Order envisaged in the provisional constitution of the Federal Republic of Somalia and scrambles the functions of the federal government and regional states. It interferes with the responsiveness and accountability of Somali state institutions. It undermines the efficacy of the rule of law and obfuscates the relation between the Somali State and its citizens.
The World Bank Report on Somalia Economic Update
, issued in October 2015, emphasizes the need to reshape the political and constitutional framework of Somalia for integrated federal government which controls the Somali territory as a basis for economic solidarity, development, and management. This impels the finalization of the provisional constitution to address the problems of clan based federalization. Somalia has two parallel governments: The federal government of Mogadishu and six federal member states (clan fiefdoms) - Somaliland, Puntland, Jubbaland, Southwest, Galmudug, and Hirshabelle. There are 7 Somali presidents.
Surprisingly, in connection with London conference, the National Leadership Forum (NLF), presumed out of business after 2016 parliamentary election, held a meeting under the chairmanship of president Formaggio. The standing of the NLF breaches the fundamental principle of Article 3 (4) of the provisional constitution demanding the separation of powers between the legislative, executive and independent judiciary branches of the federal government for accountability, efficiency and responsiveness to the interests of the people.
By exercising executive and legislative powers, the NLF has established a National Security Council (NSC) comprising members of the NLF, six federal ministers and Governor of Benadir Region, and a State-Level Security Councils (SSC). It also endorsed a new Somali National Security Architecture (NSA) as a stepping stone for the security federalization without regulatory framework. It authorized SNA force of 18,000 and Police Force of 32,000 force and command and control structure. Finally, it ordered the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of any extra security forces not lucky to be part of the authorized number. After 16 years of security mismanagement, the security federalization process could be a “Pandora’s Box.”
The provisional constitution regulates the security forces and functions. Article 54 allocates the powers of the matters concerning the national defense exclusively to the federal government. Article 90 (b) says the president serve as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. Article 111H establishes Independent National Security Commission to study and develop integrated security framework to address the present and future needs of Somalia. Article 126 says, “The federal government shall guarantee the peace, sovereignty, and national security of the Federal Republic of Somalia and the safety of its people through its security services - the armed force, the intelligence service, the police force, and the prison force -; the deployment of security forces shall be determined by law.” Article 130 says, “The two houses of the parliament shall enact a law governing the structure, functions and levels of the security agencies of the federal republic of Somalia.” It is not clear why the federal leaders decided to ignore the democratic rules on security matters spelled out in the provisional constitution.
World Bank Public Expenditure Review (PER) report on security and justice sectors
, issued in January 2017, details the intractable problems vexing the security and justice sectors fundamental for sovereign, effective, and secure State in Somalia. The report provides recommendations for security and justice sectors reform based on the principles of affordability, efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability.
Ultimately, the leaders of the federal government shoulder the responsibility of protecting and respecting the Constitutional order of the Federal Republic of Somalia and the aspirations of the Somali people to chart out their common destiny. Somalia cannot afford four more years of kleptocratic government and political lapses.
Mr. Mohamud M Uluso
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