After the unprecedented ouster of former parliament Speaker by President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and Prime Minister Hassan Kheire in last April, the Federal Parliament of Somalia (FPS=House of the People and Upper House), the lead-institution for domestic accountability, ceased to exercise its mandated oversight over the executive branch of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS). Under the double-edge slogan of political stability, leaders of both houses of the FPS have frozen the parliamentary activities to free the executive branch from domestic accountability and transparency. Pro-executive Parliamentarians are receiving special treatments and emoluments for parliament’s paralysis.
Lack of domestic accountability and transparency is deepening state failure.
As a last resort, under the Mutual Accountability Framework, the executive branch of the FGS faces foreign (donor) accountability to account for its performance in the past 6 months in the upcoming meeting of the High-Level Partnership Forum (HLPF) planned to take place on July 16-17, 2018 at Brussels, Belgium. A large delegation from the federal government (FGS), probably including President Farmajo, the federal member states (FMS), the civil society, the media, and the business community will attend the Brussels meeting. On July 16, the international Partners will meet with Somali senior officials, while the following day they will meet with the Ministers for past performance review and action plan for the next 6-12 months. However, the consensus is that foreign accountability can’t be a remedy for the lack of domestic accountability and transparency.
The meeting will focus on the progress made in inclusive politics, security reform, economic recovery; and resilience, recovery, and humanitarian assistance. Justice and security reform along with the political roadmap for 2020 elections, the transition plan (euphemism for AMISOM Restructuring), and the level of aid needed will get special attention.
While the review and finalization of the Provisional Constitution is mired into chaotic process expected to continue beyond 2019, the acceptance of 2014 census is in limbo, the separation of jurisdiction between FGS and Benadir Administrations is on hold, the boundaries between FMS and districts within FMS are not demarcated, there is a push for resource and power-sharing between FGS and FMS and the transition from 4.5 clan formula to universal suffrage for political representation. Observers and readers could imagine the quality of leadership, level of capacity, resources, transparency, dedications, and legal framework needed, but nowhere near, to address those issues related to state-building goals without creating a new crisis, obstacles, and polarization.
The federal government hastily organizes meetings in Mogadishu few days before Brussels meeting. Undoubtedly, the participants of those meetings, particularly members of the federal parliament, the representatives of FMS, the civil society, private sector, and the media, have not been given the time, opportunity, and confidence to study and debate the briefings or expert papers for meaningful contributions. This fits the pattern of the working of the federal government pointed out by a recent study of Vanda Felbab-Brown on “The Limits of Punishment: Transitional Justice and Violent Extremism – Somalia Case Study” in which the author says that the federal government works ad hoc without very much thought about policy and legal specifications. The Somalia case study assesses the deficiencies of the military actions of the international community and the Somali government against Al Shabab, the web of problems and injustices related to the handling of Al Shabab defectors and the communities under Al Shabab rule, and offers radical recommendations.
Apparently, the President and the Prime Minister are either unprepared or unconcerned on what entails to lead responsibly and judiciously a failed state struggling to resurrect and retake the path for peace and democratic system of governance with an imperfect federal system in partnership with generous but distrustful international community. Both leaders are having great difficulty in translating the cardinal principals of public participation in public policy discussions, rule of law, and respect of human rights into effective governance practices that strengthen public confidence in state-building goals. Their approach ignores available knowledge about state-building and democracy and emulates the footsteps for a state-controlled economy of the collapsed military dictatorship.
In anticipation of the Brussels meeting, the European Parliament has issued comprehensive resolution that recalls the root causes of Somalia’s crisis and exhorts the FGS, the European Union, and the international community to work together to accomplish the objectives of state-building and peacebuilding, consisting in “the development of strong institutions governed by the rule of law and able to provide basic services, security, freedom of expression and freedom of association. The resolution emphatically urges the reform of the National Intelligence Service Agency (NISA) with credible oversight mechanism and the establishment of Independent judiciary system, and independent investigative and accountable institutions. It makes clear that unfailing respect of human rights is a necessary precondition for tackling Security Reform in Somalia. Demobilization of the paramilitary force “Xasilinta” (Mogadishu stability force) is a high priority. The silence of UN Mission in Somalia over the illegitimacy of paramilitary “Xasilinta” and NISA forces is appalling.
In cooperation with the international community, the Somali leaders should know that the leaders of donor countries are recipients of updated briefings on the leaders and inner working of the fragile states. For example, in the Policy Brief of Fragility Study Group on “Fragility and Security Sector Reform,” written by Rachel Kleinfeld, in September 2016 for the incoming Administration of President Donald Trump, contains the following passages:
“In fragile states, leaders are often eager to receive U.S. training and equipment- not to address violent threats but to consolidate power, increase prestige or enhance their wealth. Without truly aligned goals, no amount of training, assistance, and equipment can overcome this basic political dynamic…… State fragility, however, is primarily an issue of political legitimacy. No amount of capacity building can redress governance failures…… State fragility stems from governments that provide extreme privilege and impunity to elites at the expense of other citizens. This governance style, which requires the politicization of security agencies, is a hallmark of fragile states……The United States cannot reform countries that do not wish to change.”
This explains why the US administration suspended aid to the Somali National Army. Similarly, despite commitment and strong desire, the International partners have been hesitant for almost a year to provide financial support for the security sector reform because of blatant human rights violations and ineptitude of the federal government.
In the past few days, the approaching meeting brought host of unfavorable issues at the forefront. They include the chaos surrounding the review and completion of the Provisional Constitution pushed to the end of 2019, the dispute over the Renewal of the Special Arrangement for Somaliland, the vehement objection of AMISOM forces Contributing Countries to the drawdown of their forces decided by the UN Security Council, the FGS purchase of arms from Djibouti, the human rights violations committed by the FGS, the destructive involvement of the rival countries Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates in the internal politics of Somalia, the tensions between the FGS and FMS, and the Tukaraq clash between forces of Somaliland and Puntland regions. These issues could overshadow the meeting.
On June 9, 2018, on behalf of the FGS, the Minister of National Planning, Investment and Economic Cooperation, Ambassador Gamal M Hassan wrote a letter to Somalia Donor Group in which he rejected the Renewal of the Special Arrangement for Somaliland for 2018-2020. On June 13, the Donor Group sent a bombshell letter (reply) to the Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Mohamed Gulaid who is from Somaliland, requesting his concurrence for the Renewal of the Special Arrangement with Somaliland. No reference was made to the Minister’s letter. This should be a memorable lesson for all.
Recently, the media reported the Somali Government purchase of arms from Djibouti in violation of the UN Security Council arms embargo. The destination of the arms is still unknown but the public opinion supports the presumption that the arms were destined to new paramilitary force under the control of Prime Minister Hassan Kheire. This undermines public confidence in federal government. The Somali people suffer from the attacks, killings, and explosions of Al Shabab. However, they loathe to support or work with the federal government mainly for incompetence, corruption, and dishonesty.
The Tukaraq clash is emblematic for the confusion around the state-building in Somalia. Hawiye Elder Abukar Omar Addani speaking about Tukaraq clash said, “we need to know if Tukaraq hostility is “clash between Darod and Dir clans” or “conflict between “Federal Government of Somalia and Republic of Somaliland.” His questioning of the clash sheds light on the conflicting views towards the federal system in Somalia. This also matches the view expressed in a draft paper of the federal government on reconciliation which argues that “a genuine truth and reconciliation process has not yet taken place. The result is that the destruction of the Somali people’s bonds, unity, nationalism, and affinity remain unattended except in some regions such as Somaliland and Puntland.”
The Somali Government should get its act together and lead Somalia to the right path. Demagoguery, banquets, dances, and foreign visits cannot accomplish the quality of leadership or workload needed in state-building, governance, and public policy development. Effective transparency and domestic accountability are mechanism for peace, legitimacy, political stability, and progress.
By Mohamud M Uluso