Former UN coordinator came down hard on the Somali Federal Government

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PHOTO | COURTESY Veteran Somalia watcher and former co-ordinator of the UN Monitoring Group for Eritrea and Somalia, Matt Bryden.   NATION MEDIA GROUP


by Mohamud M. Uluso
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
In an interview  (Somalia: lights and Shadows) published Saturday 22, 2013 in the Kenya Daily Nation, Mr. Matt Bryden, former coordinator of UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea, came down hard on the federal government of Somalia (FGS). He lambasted the federal government for “delusional” performance, supported the unconstitutional ‘Jubbaland’ regional state announced in Kismaio with the blessing of Kenya Government, and pitched for the “status quo” of the northwestern regions of Somalia renamed “Somaliland.” He attributed the failure of the federal government to not meeting the expectations raised by what he described an ambitious six pillar program- the political platform of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. The platform mirrors the “New Deal” strategy that promotes nationally owned plan for peacebuilding and statebuiling.

As a government of failed state, the new federal government and the international community agreed on the “New Deal” strategy that focuses on five goals: inclusive legitimate politics, security, justice, employment and livelihood, good financial management and delivery of public services. The new comprehensive approach supplants the bottom-up or top-down approaches. In partnership, the international community adopted the slogan: “One voice, one common vision in the support of new Somalia.”

Therefore, I think it is an exaggeration to describe the six pillar program ambitious. The international community accepted it as an initial basis for statebuilding process in Somalia- a game changer- which predicates on a substantial international assistance. To their credit, the leaders of the federal government have shown political steadiness, unity and commitment in the face of unimaginable external and domestic pressures and attacks.

The UN coordinator’s criticism assumes that on the one hand, the federal government has no necessary financial and human resources and capacities to fulfill the six pillar program and on other hand, the international donors are not prepared to provide the timely necessary support. This later assumption on the part of the international community contradicts the public declaration made by the key actors of the international community. Whether the international donor community will put its money where its mouth is or not remains to be seen in not far distant day.

Sure, the federal government lacks capacity and resources to fulfill alone the six pillars program. However, the program’s implementation is a precondition for stable government and the preparation of the political election set for in Somalia in 2016 by the international community. The UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson said on May 7, 2013 at the London Conference on Somalia the following:

“The daunting responsibility of the Somali Government is to deliver, among competing priorities, a Constitution and elections in the space of just three years,”

It is inconceivable to ask the federal government to focus on constitutional referendum and preparation and conduct of free and fair elections when the sovereignty, territorial integrity, national unity, political independence, government representational legitimacy and enforcement power all are contested or in question. The focus of the federal government seems to be on the completion of the review of the federal provisional constitution, the return of reliable stability in the south central Somalia, on the acceleration of national political and economic integration and unity through national and local institution building, and on a constructive and independent foreign policy.

In answering to the questions related to Somaliland and Jubbaland, the former UN coordinator rehearsed the narratives put out by the protagonists of the two areas. The international community recognizes Somalia as one country and the United Nations refused to circulate the letters from Somaliland for being part of Somalia. The time of division of Somalia into Puntland, Somaliland and South Central Somalia has ended.

With regard to Somaliland, Mr. Matt Bryden highlighted that Somaliland and Somalia are talking as two parties in dispute despite the federal government represents the interests of the population in the Somaliland regions. His answer suggests a never ending talk, good neighbor’s relation, and legitimization of “separation” between Somaliland regions and Somalia. He makes clear that the authority of Somaliland regions cannot enter into political compromises because of the constraints of the regional constitution while the unconstitutional behavior of Raskamboni Militia under the provisional federal constitution is permissible. The argument of different constitutional interpretations on the issue is for distraction because the constitutional path for addressing the unsettled federal system in Somalia is clear.

The power, conditions and time for the federal government to engage an indefinite talk with the authority of Somaliland regions is limited if it has to conduct a political election in 2016. As in Jubbaland and other parts, there are simmering political and clan conflicts in Somaliland and Puntland. The federal Government must undertake a national census throughout the country in mid-2015. After state collapse, national election is more important than local elections that deepen fragmentation.

Without explanation, the former UN coordinator raised the specter of the use of coercive force against Somaliland regions. Since the matter of Somalia is seized by the UN Security Council, it is hard to fathom such an eventuality. Somalia needs individual and collective transformation that fortifies peace, unity, justice, fairness, trust, and prosperity. Actors and participants of the past disastrous failures should contribute to the social transformation and should not reconstruct or engender other colossal failures.

With regard to Jubbaland, the former UN Coordinator urges the federal government to accept the Jubbaland constitution, political agenda and authority led by Raskamboni Militia and to seek an inclusion of personalities in the declared Regional Authority. This tricky suggestion breaches the national political consensus, the provisions of the Provisional Federal Constitution and undercuts the legitimacy of the federal government. In addition, the role of the Independent Boundaries and Federation is not to settle the dispute over the principles of federalism. The commission’s role is to study the implementation of a federal system based on certain predetermined principles. There are many issues to be completed before the federal parliament appoints the commission.

Given the access and connection of the former UN coordinator to the thinking and intelligence of western policy makers for Somalia, the interview reinforces the perception of the international community’s doublespeak on the support to the current “sovereign federal government of Somalia.” This awareness coupled with the lack of significant assistance from the major donors directly to the Federal Government for improving the security situation, building public administration, and starting the delivery of basic social services, prompts a question about the purpose and meaning of the current flares of activities of the international community led by the United States, United Kingdom and United Nations. The Federal Parliament must investigate this issue and inform the public the truth.

With reference to Mr. Matt Bryden’s claim that IGAD and African Union are concerned about the appearance of a nontraditional international partner in the region, it seems that there is a collusion of efforts to thwart the glim of hope sparked by the tangible assistance of Turkey and the Organization of Islamic Conference towards Somalia. The membership of Somalia to Africa, Arab and Islamic world is not an option. It is constitutionally and culturally bound membership. Therefore, the argument that Ethiopia and Kenya under the umbrella of IGAD are not happy with the involvement of Turkey and other non traditional partners in Somalia deserves serious consideration and public awareness.

The former UN coordinator suggested that the federal government is failing as all the previous Transitional Federal Governments (TFG) failed. However, he did not mention the fundamental reasons why all TFG failed to establish a stable government.

I like to mention here five reasons. First, the TFG lacked ownership of political agenda that responds to the priorities and needs of the Somali people. Second, the aid resources were exclusively and independently managed in Nairobi by donors. Third, IGAD (Ethiopia) managed TFGs as local government entity. Fourth, the international community focused on terrorism, piracy and humanitarian crisis at the expense of statebuilding. Fifth, factional usurpation and abuse of constitution were encouraged and rewarded. Now if international donor-powers entertain the idea of continuing on that path under the cover of “titular sovereign federal government,” then the possibility of failure of the federal government could be real. The New Deal strategy is based on the vision to exit Somalia from the path of permanent failure.

The position of the Federal Government on Jubbaland tends to bring Somalis together and to abandon the culture of clan animosity and hatred, factionalism, warlordism, secession, and foreign manipulation. The presence of Kenya forces in the region will be considered as a foreign occupation forces as long as they are operating outside the mandate of the UN Security Council and African Union. The federal government must consistently defend the interests of all Somalis in accordance with the Provisional Federal Constitution and through the national institutions.

The leaders of the Somali Federal Government must engage and educate the public for harmony, loyalty to the state and national values. Injustices, mistrusts and grievances should be addressed through effective legal or traditional mechanisms with strong supervision from the higher authority for the purpose of Somalis coming together and of not replacing injustices with injustices. Openness and public mobilization are needed for political unity. Leaders’ words must correspond to their deeds.

If one tries to summarize the substance of former UN coordinator’s interview, the federal government should forget Somaliland and Jubbaland and look for imaginary or failure tasks like the preparation of political elections and constitutional referendum in a fragmented society or concentration on Mogadishu and surrounding areas. This kind of suggestion is a trap for another secure national failure.

Mohamud M. Uluso

mohamuduluso@gmail.com

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