Fixing the Transitional Process for Somalia (2000-2011) by Ex-Prime Minister Ahmed Abdisalam Adan

Mogadishu (Keydmedia) - Fixing the Transitional Process for Somalia (2000-2011) - Assessing the Structural Limitations that undermine the transitional institutions and proposals for resolving
Article Keydmedia Online
Fixing the Transitional Process for Somalia (2000-2011) by Ex-Prime Minister Ahmed Abdisalam Adan

Fixing the Transitional Process for Somalia (2000-2011)

Assessing the Structural Limitations that undermine the

transitional institutions and proposals for resolving


Ahmed Abdisalam Adan

Mogadishu, Somalia


27th March, 2011


  1. Introduction

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.


    1. 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 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


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


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' twitter_embed_code='' gallery="{gallery}" gallery_embed_code='


Article 21 May 2021 10:14

I read your article on Foreign Policy with keen eyes and interest. While whining from public officials does not deserve response from any sensible citizen of the Republic of Somalia, I felt compelled to counter false narrative with more objective analysis.