by Dr. Abdurahman Abdullahi Baadiyow
Wednesday, October 23, 2019
Reconciliation is a long process that encompasses all dimensions of peacebuilding in societies emerging from violent conflicts. The aim of reconciliation is to restore trust and mutual understanding between communities and societies. Reconciliation is not a “one-size-fits-all” process, and it is not a universal prescription to address the physical wounds and psychological pain inflicted in communities and societies in the aftermath of gross human rights violations. Past experiences of reconciliation demonstrate that each community and society should discover its path for reconciliation in accordance with its norms, culture, and religion. Thus, reconciliation cannot be imposed or imported from other communities and societies. It must be approached on a case-by-case basis by considering the peculiarities of each case in its specific context and location. Accordingly, Galmudug reconciliation has its particularities and lessons to be learned. Therefore, in this text, I have described a number of success factors and experiences gained from this reconciliation.
On 16th September, 2019, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo concluded the Galmudug Reconciliation Conference in a celebratory event comprising 720 participants from all districts of the Galmudug State. Galmudug state was established in 2015 and quickly found itself immersed in a tense political conflict with both the federal government of Somalia and Ahlu-Sunna, which finally lead to the breakdown of the state. The federal government took the initiative to deal with situation and signed separate agreements with both Ahlu-Sunna wa Al-jama and President Ahmed Duale to reinstitute the regional state of Galmudug. The main point of the agreement with Ahlu-Sunna included integrating its armed militia into the national armed forces, to hold a reconciliation meeting in Dhuusamareeb and to reinstitute the state institutions.
The Minister of the Interior, Federalism, and Reconciliation Abdi Mohamed Sabriye appointed 12 committee members to organize and conduct the Galmudug reconciliation on 17th July, 2019. This committee included senior and experienced personalities rooted in Galmudug communities. I was honoured to be elected by the members to chair this committee. The mandate of the committee was to invite elders of the clans and their civil society groups to Dhuusamareeb and facilitate their dialogue with the overarching goal to create a common understanding between all stakeholders regarding the road map of the conflict resolution mechanism. After two months of hard work, meetings, explaining, persuading, and inviting elders of the various clans, the committee succeeded in officially holding the conference on 5th August, 2019. Prime Minister Hassan Ali Kheyre, who spent more than 40 days in Galmudug to persuade various stakeholders, inaugurated the conference. Various clan elders and Galmudug politicians addressed this event, which contributes to the celebratory mood. The Reconciliation Conference gained huge support from the Galmudug communities, politicians, civil society, and business communities. After the 7-day conference, the committee evaluated the factors contributing to its success. Here, I will share some of these factors with you. They are sub-divided into factors related to the committees and those related to the government.
I. Factors Related to the committee:
1. Most of the members of the Reconciliation Committees were reputable personalities known for their experience, neutrality, and credibility. They included academicians, former politicians, diplomats, civil society activists, and Islamic scholars. The committee members belonged to all of the clans residing in Galmudug.
2. The committee undertook a program in which they visited community locations, meeting face to face with the elders and civil society groups to explain the objective of the reconciliation conference and expected outcome. The locations visited by the committee were Gurieel, Balanballe, Abuudwaaq, Huurshe, Hiraale, Galkayo, and Adaado. The committees were not able to visit the eastern districts of Galmudug under the Al-Shabaab rule. However, they communicated with the clans residing in these districts in Mogadishu and officially invited them to the conference.
3. Skilful use of nationalistic songs, rich Somali poetry and effective use of mass media through daily interviews with most local radios and TVs, and issuing daily progress reports to the public. In addition, the committee was provided an effective media support team to broadcast all committee activities and clan dialogue during the conference.
4. Employing flexible methods in resolving disputes among clans to the allocations of delegates. Initially, each clan was given four times their number in the parliament of Galmudug, meaning that the total number of delegates was 356. Nonetheless, the official delegates reached 520 to respond to the requests of the different clan elders to give them extra delegates to be distributed to different sub-clans. Moreover, we offered an extra 200 participants as guest members. As such, we have satisfied all clan elders in a case-by-case approach.
5. Flexibility of designated time of the conference. We initially announced that the conference would be opened on the 5th of August to pressure the clans; however, we postponed the date officially to 17th August for justifiable reasons. Finally, we extended the official opening to 5th September. The reason for such flexibility was to make sure that all clans could participate and to give enough time to resolve their internal conflicts.
6. Effective teamwork among members of the committee on the one side and the technical team of the Ministry of the Interior, Federalism, and Reconciliation on the other. The collaborative work and team spirit were exceptional and enabled the smooth implementation of the plan.
7. Flexibility of the program of the conference, which was designed to suit the culture of the people and allow changes whenever necessary and avoid prolonged hours. We discovered that delegates prefer to work short hours from 8:00-12:30 and adjusted our program accordingly. Working afternoon hours after dinner was difficult for many of them because of their age and other reasons.
8. The effective use of Islamic texts on reconciliation, forgiveness, and brotherhood. These Islamic awareness programs were diversified and participated by Islamic scholars who were members of delegations.
9. The use of an interactive system of dialogue, group work, experience sharing, posing questions, and expressing comments. The use of such an approach disseminated in the different daily programs was thought-provoking and increased the interest of the participants.
10. Meeting with every clan separately and collecting answers for 5 major questions. The answers to these questions were projected to the general audience in a closed session. The information gathered from these clans was deposited in the Ministry of the Interior, Federalism, and Reconciliation.
II. Factors related to the Government
1. The Government agreement with Ahlu-Sunna and President Ahmed Duale Haaf in the beginning of the process of reconciliation was the entry point for the success.
2. Providing a reliable and secure environment in Dhuusamareeb through employing various security apparatus, including AMISON.
3. Effective and professional team provided by the Ministry of Interior, Federalism, and Reconciliation and the timely logistical support of the whole operations of reconciliation, such as lodging, transporting, and other support.
4. The continuous presence of the Ministers of Interior and Internal Security in Dhuusmareeb during the whole process of reconciliation to direct and oversee activities related to the reconciliation and conference.
5. Resolving prolonged conflict of the Hiraale/Hurshe community (Faqa Muhumad sub-clan of Dir clan). This conflict, one of the most disastrous in Galmudug state, lead to the deaths of 79 people and continued for more than three years. The government pledged to pay $5000 to each family of the killed individuals while the community agreed to give back to its owners all properties confiscated during the war.
6. Participation of the Prime Minister and the President in the opening and closing of the conference. The presence of the highest authority of the state shows that priority was given to Galmudug reconciliation.
Finally, besides the work of the committee and the government, other stakeholders also contributed to the success of the conference. They included business groups from the Dhuusamareeb/Guri’eel community and several national and Galmudug politicians. This reconciliation was the first phase of restoring the regional state of Galmudug, followed by the second phase, which concerns ascertaining traditional elders and selecting members of the parliament. The third and final phase is the election of the president and other officials and forming the government.
Dr. Abdurahman Abdullahi Baadiyow is Senior Adviser for Peace and Reconciliation for the Somali Prime Minister. He can be reached at [email protected]