Part 2: A Different Perspective For Long Lasting Peace And Stability In Somalia

Keydmedia Online - Dr. Mohamed Warsame 'Kimiko' - « Previous Page | In November, 2003, IGAD Heads of States engaged in the Somali Peace and Reconciliation Conference in Nairobi.
Editorial Keydmedia Online
Part 2: A Different Perspective For Long Lasting Peace And Stability In Somalia
At the same time, the wider international community was engaged in the Somali question and it was clear that there was a gap in considering the issues at stake and involving the Somali people in evolving appropriate solutions that belied the real problem: the Somali people constituted by the clans and their system. At the same time, it was suggested that certain changes be made to the course of the Conference and to avoid any imposed solution by all means. The relevance of the proposition contained therein remained and will always remain just as valid as it was back then. In essence, to go back to the roots: the clan system. Regrettably, the Conference proceeded and haphazardly ended a year later in October of 2004 after two years of deliberations with no end in sight. Indeed, the Conference ushered a new ominous era of immeasurable and far-reaching consequences for the Somali people; more than six years have passed since the paper was presented and unfortunately its predictions have became a reality in that the Somali situation is by far worse than it was then. Most likely by design, the Conference failed and betrayed the Somali people’s aspirations. At its end, in October 2004 it delivered the following: an ambiguous, divisive, and impractical Charter containing all the ingredients that can pre-empt or at least seriously hinder the Somali people from smoothly exercising their sovereign right to choose the form of government they deem suitable; a federal system that undoubtedly carries with it, the seeds of conflict (it should be remembered that Gen. Mohamed Siad Barre on his own whim had, in the latter part of his rule, increased the regions from eight to 18, with ill defined boundaries; a 275 member parliament which represented nobody in Somalia but themselves. This parliament elected a president and formed a large cabinet from among its members, in what seems to have been a move to thwart the rebirth of a viable Somali State. Sadly, the established institutions, the Parliament, the President, and the Cabinet, were not even able to relocate to Somalia, their country almost for a year until they were forcibly given an ultimatum by the Kenyan Government to leave Kenya by a certain given date. Consequently, the members of the established institutions which had been divided across the board into two factions left Kenya: one faction including the Speaker of Parliament headed to Mogadishu, the capital; and the other, including the President, to Jowhar (90 Km. north of Mogadishu) hosted by one of the Warlords. After a time of mutual recriminations through the media and without any direct dialogue, the two heads of the new factions, the President and the Speaker of Parliament meet in Sana’ at the invitation of the president of Yemen, and agreed to move the factions to Baidoa, 250 Km. south of Mogadishu. But the divisions have remained as they are, compounded by the utter ineptitude that has persisted; ironically nothing has happened; one finds the two factions living side by side in a Somali town, idling until new players come into the field. The first players were the Islamic Courts, who after defeating some of the Warlords in Mogadishu attempted to bring down the national flag, and established their own strict rule in the capital and some other areas. Ethiopia was next, after it had driven out the Islamists in December 2006, it occupied the Somali capital under the pretext of restoring peace. These new developments irreparably made the Nairobi institutions meaningless. Because, ironically, the divisions and bickering continued to persist even when the Speaker of the Parliament was exiled in Eritrea, the President and his Prime Minister engaged in a personal feud and as it was expected: the latter had to leave on 29 October 2007. All in all, the Nairobi conference and its institutions have only brought to the fore in Somalia, the emergence of extremist groups, foreign occupation, humiliation, massacres, considerable displacements, more misery, and untold suffering for the people. The number of lives lost, the amount of property destroyed as widely reported by international agencies and media, is staggering. The international community has put in a lot of effort and financial resources in Warlord conferences, the 16th of such conferences was held in Nairobi, and others followed. For instance, following the Sana’ meeting of the two presidents ( now heads of the two factions), the most significant conference after Nairobi was held in Khartoum on 30 October 2006 with the aim of reconciling the positions of the TFG and the Islamic Courts each of which had its own single agenda item which they refused to compromise on. The truncated TFG had one single objective: to bring into the country foreign troops, especially Ethiopian troops by all means; equally the Islamic Courts, who at one point attempted to bring down the national flag, had only one single objective: to establish, at the behest of a larger movement, an Islamic State in the country. Clearly none of the two groups represented the Somali people or their interest. Soon after, another one of these futile conferences was held in Asmara with the Eritrean government hosting a group of strange bedfellows that included Islamists, secularists, dissident parliamentarians, elements from the Diaspora, and individuals. The group agreed only to call themselves the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia. The Djibouti process This process had started while President Abdullahi Yusuf and his second Prime Minister Nur Hassan who was appointed on 24th November 2007 were, as late as December 2008, engaged in a personal bitter feud. Probably, oblivious of the creeping Djibouti process and its implications for the existence of their TFG, each endeavored and hoped to eliminate the other but, in the end, they both unceremoniously left through the back door. The President resigned on 29 December 2008 and went into exile, while the PM, after an unpractical bid for the presidency in Djibouti was, as consolation, appointed the ambassador to Italy. By design or maybe by default, the process seems to have been a desperate one aiming at only supplanting or replacing the Nairobi institutional arrangements, especially Abdullahi Yusuf’s failure-prone administration with anything else, no matter what. The only tangible, though unwarranted, result was to double the number of the parliamentarians to 550 with the addition of 275 new members to be exclusively selected by Sheikh Sharif and his Alliance, and extend their life-span until August 2011 without any provision for the thereafter. This asymmetrical process therefore set the stage for Sheikh Sharif to become the pre-ordained President of Somalia, when one considers that the new parliament, so constituted, was to elect the president The TFG already divided and on the brink of disintegration could neither take up a stance, nor pose any challenge. Sheikh Sharif was sworn in on 30 January 2009, and appointed his first Prime Minister on 13 February. Though the name TFG was kept this virtually signaled the end of the TFG as we knew it, and the beginning of the Alliance government. The new government was not able to articulate any workable political and security program to face the challenges, especially the one being posed by Al-shabaab, an offspring or subsidiary of Sheikh Sharif’s defunct Islamic Courts. On top of this inability, the usual personal conflicts and squabbles between the President, Speaker, and the PM immediately came to the forefront once again. Eventually, the Speaker was ousted on 16 June 2010 during a stormy session of the parliament, and a day later the President, forgetful of the Charter provisions stipulating that the government can only be dismissed by a vote of no confidence passed by parliament, declared the PM dismissed during a press conference. He promised to form a new cabinet that included among others, the just ousted speaker. The Prime Minister initially refused to accept the dismissal terming it illegal and for the next four months, the president and the prime minister remained at loggerheads until finally the PM seemingly through various means, was persuaded to succumb; he tendered his resignation on 21 September 2010. After 40 days of a frantic search the President finally appointed a Prime Minister. The new PM from the start revealed some signs of sensible governance; for instance, he reduced the cabinet from 39 members to a more manageable size of 18; established better rapport with the Parliament; formulated a tentative budget; promised to re-organize the national security forces and to communicate with the citizens who had constantly felt ignored. In spite of the effort, time and the political environment may negate the effort. This is because during the Djibouti process it was agreed to extend the enlarged parliament life until 20 August 2011, however, no provision or mechanism was envisaged for the after expiration of this period. This lack of foresight then has created a real dilemma in the minds of the Somali as well as the international community. The big question is how can we surmount this predicament and move forward? Another related big question is: will the international community organize another conference in a foreign country? Or will it afford the Somali people a say in the solution-searching processes for once, by holding the conference in Somalia? Considering the past experiences probably the latter course is most plausible, no matter how long or how much effort it may take. Under the circumstances, to get out of the impasse and avoid the earlier haphazard and inconclusive exercises, perhaps the best course of action would be to allow the current Parliament to exist for a further period of up to18 months but simultaneously appoint an “Independent National Commission” to organize an “All Somali Clans Decision-making National Conference” to restore the failed State and to ensure peace and stability in the country. This clear objective can be attained within the specified interim period of 18 months after which, the Parliament will cease to exist, and hopefully with it, the foreign inspired transitional arrangements. Earlier conferences and the Somali people. The Somali people have had absolutely nothing to do with all the failure-prone earlier conferences except to suffer from their negative consequences. Indeed, the Somali case has very few parallels, if any, in the history of nations and peoples. It is a complex question but yet simple if only the root causes are clearly understood and the proper steps taken to find appropriate solutions; the clan system may just be the answer, after all, Somalia is made of the clans and not vice-versa. The clans are the legitimate stakeholders and repositories of the sovereignty of the people; all the citizens are united by the clan system which includes every single citizen, whereas all other forums necessarily exclude some; the clans alone hold a genuine interest and can solve the country’s crisis. In their gatherings, the clans often discuss issues at length and steadfastly agree on viable solutions for all problems. A good measure of the conflict resolution capabilities of clans is the fact that, some regional clans have achieved total reconciliation and established their own working autonomous administrations, for instance, the 1993 Borama Clans Conference established the Somaliland Republic; the 1997 Garowe Conference established Puntland State; the 2006 Galkayo Conference established the Galmudug State; the 2008 Adado Conference established Ximan and Xeeb; while the 2000 broader Conference of Arta (Djibouti)achieved a total reconciliation of all clans with a national government being established with initial substantial popular support. It is unfortunate that the government, primarily due to utter ineptitude and gross mismanagement, dissolved itself so quickly. In terms of participation by the clans, one notes that the Peace and Reconciliation Conferences were organized by the international community for Warlords and their factions, many of whom lacked the appropriate attitude for reconciliation and for whom peace meant only personal losses. There were no political movements, political parties, or clans, just only individuals representing themselves; the conferences failed simply because the Somali people were absent. What is required therefore is not reconciliation in vacuum but rather final and irrevocable decisions taken by the genuine stakeholders: the Somali people constituted by the clans. For this purpose, an internationally sponsored and seriously organized Decision-Making Conference should be convened at the appropriate time by the Independent National Commission within the time table. It is important to note that none of the current players, whatever their opinion and attitude will like the clan system coming into the field. Indeed, the clan’s decision-making processes will render them irrelevant because no one is above the equalitarian clan. The participants of the Decision-making Conference should be genuine representatives duly empowered by their respective clans who would elect/select them through the traditional Shir or Clan Assembly. However, prior to the convening of the general conference each individual clan shall hold assembly, for the twofold purpose of electing/selecting the clan leadership, which must comprise both members of the urban and rural segments on the one hand, and their designation representatives of the clan to the national conference, on the other; moreover such a process would help in identifying the legitimate leaders for each clan because for the purpose of any meaningful dialogue or recourse it is extremely important to have such legitimate and identifiable clan leadership; in their aggregate these clan leaders already represent a credible national leadership. In earlier times it was easy for the clans to identify each other’s leadership but the exigencies of the modern system of governance makes such identification all the more important because less conversant players including officials of government and other institutions are also now in the field. For the general conference to succeed, participation of a majority of the clans is required to inspire confidence. In the same vein, it is likely that all those who first hesitate will eventually join them because it is against the moral fabric for clans to reject one another. Again, it is within this moral fabric that clans are fair to those who are absent. They know how to reach out to one another and exercise incredible persuasive powers; that is why it is hard for the absentees to totally reject the decisions of their peers. It is important that the commission be composed of Somalis with known integrity, reputation, and a sense of nationalism. A number of 27 would aptly represent the interests of the people. Obviously, the Commission, in order to properly execute this fundamental objective requires unwavering support from all those concerned including the TFG and the international community. The transitional organs and institutions then would fully cooperate with the Commission to discharge its responsibilities, likewise, the international community would provide the necessary means and advice, and all the citizens should be ready to take up full responsibility for the work of the commission. Part of the process of the clan assembly that the international donor community can assist in is the commissioning by a government or an institution of a detailed study with the aim of convening this decision-making national conference, which is supported by the international community. This book thus, can be the basis for such a study given that the clan system, its functions and operations have been explained and delineated, any study carried out should not only address but also determine the following: Re-define and re-structure the clan system, this involves determining how many clans exist, how long it will take for the clans to hold their individual Shir-assemblies; the type guidelines and assistance to be given to the clans; the number of delegates to assemble and the expected outcomes; the costs involved in organization of the conference; the possible sites; the event organizers and the conditions under which the conference will take place, the length of the entire process and the timelines; and lastly to determine the obstacles and how they can be surmounted. It is on the basis of such a project that both the Somalis and the international community could fruitfully act upon. Next Chapter: OVERVIEW By Dr. Mohamed Warsame - Kimiko - Keydmedia Online Exclusive Dr. Kimiko is a Somali politician and diplomat. He has occupied various diplomatic posts in Somalia since independence in 1960, including Somali Ambassador to the United States in 1980.

Editorial 29 April 2022 13:51

Somalia is on the move. It is pushing for foreign investment, and large infrastructure projects are changing the face of its scarred capital city, Mogadishu. These developments could promise better fortunes for Somalis as the country emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic