Somalia’s Elections: Failed illegal power usurpation and the way forward
Since the collapse of the State in early 1990s, Somalia has been through the longest civil war and without an effective government in the history of the contemporary civilized world. The question that everybody is asking is, what is wrong?
To answer the enigma of this question, that has puzzled the minds of every politician, economist and normal individuals, needs a comprehensive understanding of the essence of the conflict in Somalia and the policies of post- conflict public administration reconstruction.
My intention is to focus the policies of post-conflict public administration reconstruction of Somalia and the challenges; where the essence of the conflict in the country is fully discussed in my other paper – Alternative Development in Somalia written in 2002. (An analysis of the Somali State, Civil Society and Development).
To begin with, it is believed there are two conflicting theories and models of what political institution and government forms suits to any nation. Some believe, government to be a practical art, in which we first decide what purpose we wish to promote and then inquire what form of government is best fitted to fulfill those purposes. Others believe, that forms of governments are not a matter of choice, but must be taken as we find.
It appears both concepts and models of governments are feasible as political institutions are made by men and can be shaped deliberately by men amid the best institutions may fail if the citizens are unwilling or unable to play their part.
However, the main challenges of both models of governments in rebuilding public administration and regaining the public trust in Post-Conflict, according to United Nations Economic and Social Development Affairs, include:
Concurring those aspects of rebuilding the nation in post-conflict, the right cycle of state legitimacy, effectiveness and public service delivery will be tested on government’s understanding and fulfilling the five indispensible pillars, mentioned above, that every nation must correct. Therefore, Let me examine and digest each one of them in the context of the current and the previous governments of Somalia.
Developing Effective Public Sector Leadership
One of the most critical elements of the failure of Somali governments and its institutions are the lack of presence of capable leaders at all levels of government. Somalia lacks Leaders who are committed to reconstructing the state and improve the delivery of public services transforming the public institutions as well heal the wounds of the conflict into peaceful coexistence and collaboration.
Yet indeed, as all efforts and energy are exerted on peace negotiations, security operations and humanitarian, too little attention is paid to cultivating of effective leaders and promoting respect for institutions. Instead of developing effective public sector leadership, the whole energy of Somali government, both the current and the TFGs, is dominated by primitive clan-parties sharing power in government offices and monopolizing the public institutions.
This approach demonstrated the weaknesses and failures of all post-conflict governments of Somalia, which needed to focus more sharply on capable leaders and strategies for promoting and developing effective leadership without the bias of clan lineage.
Somalia needs a Leadership with a vision of the future, which is fundamental in implementing institutional reforms. Competent leaders able to mobilize the public to move the reforms, needed in the country, in the right direction and achieve shared goals.
Building Effective Public Institutions
Public Institutions in Somalia was destroyed and desolated for more than two decades. In post-conflict situations, comprehensive institutional development was unequivocally necessary. Somali political institutions require complete political system changes with reform that guarantee effective public policies and create checks and balances to prevent abuses of power. Civil society institutions, too, might require similar reforms.
The most challenge facing our public institutions is how to restructure the public service into an inclusive, transparent and comprehensive ways so that it incorporates and reinvigorate desirable public service values, such as impartiality, integrity, and dedication.
An additional challenge is, making sure that the public servants themselves are invested in the change process so that they can become the most effective contributors and champions of the country’s recovery. The composition and functioning of the public service represents a microcosm of the society and mirrors the larger governance environment.
To create effective public administration, our current institutions need to remodel by themselves to fit the country’s specific needs taking into account of the cultural, historical and political realities prevailed in the years of the civil war and the aftermath of the conflict.
Strengthening Human Resources in the Public Sector
It is very practical and a historical fact that every nation's survival and the well-being of its nationals depends on the quality of its people and its natural endowments. In other words, a country's potential for economic, social and political development is greatly influenced by its natural and Human Resources (numbers of people and their levels of education and skills).
It is not only the sheer numbers of people and their skill levels are important, but also their cultural outlook, attitudes and desire for self-improvement are vital ingredients. The nature and the character of a country's human resources and values are important determinants of its development.
Another critical challenge, which is hampering all efforts to develop a very effective and properly functioning public sector in our country, is how the capacities, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors of civil servants can be transformed, so that they can operate effectively within a democratic institutional settings.
It is not possible to transform public administration without a transformation of the beliefs, attitudes and behaviors of the people for positive engagement. Somalia lacks the human resources that can lead the country at this critical junction of post-conflict state and peace building.
Many people are sitting idle that have the skills and the educational level to run the country effectively because of the rigid 4.5 system and the selection of clan-based criteria rather than the ability and the qualification of the person. The system is an obstacle and a challenge to the economic recovery, security and peace building of the country.
Establishing Mechanisms for Inclusive Governance
In post-conflict situations, no country can survive without any mechanisms for expressing public concerns and mobilizing grassroots participation in governance. If this is not happen then that institutions remain empty shells.
Once again, the challenge for post-conflict in Somalia is to figure out which mechanisms best suit our own situation, which is based on the occurrence of the past, present and future capacities and expectations.
Taking into account the experience gained from the previous regimes ruled the country, decentralization can be the best mechanism that helps our people become engaged in managing public affairs and committed to peaceful progress.
Good examples are the regional states and regional administrations established in some of the regions. This ensures that all social groups are part of the country’s transformation process and avoids relapsing into conflict and violence.
These are the most appropriate mechanisms for the articulation of people’s interests and developing a culture of pluralism, building participatory governance instead of local/national conflict of interest, social stratification and fragmentation of the civil society.
Improving the Delivery of Public Service
Running a government is largely about ensuring the human basic services, such as security, sanitation, health care, education and justice. To accomplish this, healthy democracies require fair and efficient public administration—nationally and locally—with a solid civil service and equitable social policies (UNDP 2008).
In post-conflict situations, the provision of efficient and affordable public services for all, including vulnerable groups and minorities, remains a core function of the State. But in the wake of severely diminished human, financial and material resources, such as Somalia, it becomes harder than ever and at the same time, it becomes more important than ever, not only for sustaining the population, but also for restoring public trust in government and keeping the peace.
Somalia’s public services become a captive to certain individuals who have powers to control the resources and delivering in the corridors of clan affiliation. The majority of the people who are elders, women and children, poor and vulnerable that have no access to power or the national wealth are denied to those services and they were treated as second-class citizens inside their home country.
It is common in post-conflict nations governments rarely have adequate financial, human and other resources to undertake effective service delivery and rebuilding efforts. However, I do agree the involvement of multiple stakeholders including multilateral and bilateral donors and local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), to solidify public service delivery capacities.
But what is puzzling is the accountability and the transparency of those agents. In reality, instead of supplementing the public services they have rather substituted the national public services. Those who are involved in the process, particularly the foreign donors, became the directors but not partners with our public service institutions as we have the experience of the current situation in our country.
Many states try to do too much with few resources and little capability. The Government of H.E. Abdiwale Sheikh Ahmed should, firstly, focus on to match its activities with its capacity getting his government better focused on the core public activities that are crucial to development and enhances its effectiveness. Secondly, over time, look for ways to improve the state's capability by reinvigorating public institutions emphasizing on mechanisms that give public officials the incentives to do their jobs better and to be more flexible, but that also provide restraints to check arbitrary and corrupt behavior.
The new government of H.E. Abdiwali Sheikh Ahmed would succeed if it gets right the five pillars discussed above and the tasks the lie at the core of every government's mission, without which sustainable economic development and poverty-reducing is impossible. : These include, establishing a foundation of law; maintain macroeconomic stability; investing in basic social services and infrastructure; protecting the vulnerable and protecting the environment (WDR 1997).
The new government needs to be as able and responsive as of countries enjoying relative peace, but must have the added challenges of managing conflict in divided societies and overcoming the devastating effects of civil war and destruction.
The new Somali government lead by H.E. Abdiwali must champion the creation and operationalization of the right institutions and getting the fundamentals right, in which without them no lasting peace can be guaranteed.
Leadership and institutional development are symbiotic which must also be willing to submit to the authority of these same institutions in order to achieve State legitimacy, equality of service access and to peace and stability for all. It is not possible to transform public administration and create effective government that efficiently delivers public services without correcting and transforming the public institution in accordingly to the five pillars and the core functions that lie in front of every government.
Somalia has characterized weak government institutions and very bad reputation of public finance management. One of the major setbacks, among others, affected all previous governments of TFG and the FGS is the discrepancy between the formal rules for governing and the actual behaviour of the leaders at all levels. All governments of Somalia, since the first election took place in Arta, have ended into furious and shameful power struggle and humiliation as different circles contesting for power. Look at the following governments and imagine the way they ended.
We hope, at least for the coming six months, the new government of H.E. Abdiwali Sheikh Ahmed will survive from similar turbulences that impaired the previous governments and would exercise independent thoughts and clear judgments that are capable of acting in its raisons d'être.
Positively, the law would suffice to keep them within the bounds of our institution and not ending and taking the country in directions that were not originally intended.
The challenge is protecting our public institutions form becoming a total captive of dysfunctional human behavior; certainly not captives of personalities.
Dr. Mohamed Ali-Nur Hagi
The current Somali government, whose mandate ended, came to power with the expectations of massive reforms in institutional and development settings. President Farmajo completed his term in office without paving the way for consensus-based elections; instead, he messed up the growing Somali institutions and the trust-building processes.