By Abdirahman Yusuf Ali
It is now four months and about two weeks since President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was elected into office amid high expectations from Somalis across the divide for a responsive, selfless and productive government.
The year 2022 marks another momentous occasion for Somalia’s second decade since the first post-war government came into place at the turn of the millennium. It is a period in which many Somalis and the international community expect to see more changes toward progressive democratic and stable Somalia.
Having stabilized his administration and hopefully redefined it to not only align with his pre-election manifesto but also install loyalists in critical portfolios, it is now time for President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to shepherd the country in conformity with his pledges, the constitution and the aspirations of all Somalis.
The Council of Ministers which alongside the rest of the government bureaucracy form the executive arm of government must also rise to the occasion, set aside individual interests and focus their energies on re-energising the state building process.
In this article, it identifys four key areas which I consider germane to bringing closer the Somali dream-one of stability, progress and democracy. They are Security, Resources Sharing, Constitutional Review and Open Governance.
Security is at the core of any meaningful progress in any society and so is more for Somalia which is bedevilled by threats of instability from a myriad of quarters. By guaranteeing citizens’ security, the state can be able to spur sustainable economic growth, national cohesion and unity and bolster foreign investment. The signs that this administration is keen on this issue can be seen from the battlefields in Galmudug and HirShabelle states where security forces have joined hands with clans and organised militias to wage the war against Al-Shabaab. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has singled out security as his number one domestic priority and that must be acknowledged and lauded. During his address to the 77th Session of the UN General Assembly last week, President Mohamud called for international support for the Somali government’s new strategy to ‘target terrorism militarily, ideologically and financially to ensure it is comprehensively defeated once and fall and quickly.’
Whereas some people have raised concerns over the aftermath of the military-civilian cooperation in the ongoing operations in central regions, the need for decimation of Al-Shabaab far outweighs such concerns which nonetheless will require a strategic modus operandi from the government side. The fight against Al-Shabaab, whether militarily, ideologically or financially is just one component of the realising peace and stability in Somalia. There will be an urgent need to sufficiently invest in establishment of local government administrations at the lowest level, service provision, generation and deployment of police and civilian units to recovered areas as well as deliberate economic growth stimulation.
The Baidoa Agreement reached into by the Federal Government and Federal Member States presidents set the basis, albeit ridden with inadequacies, for sharing of oil resources between the FGS and FMS and among FMS. That agreement would later form part of the Petroleum Act 2020. Some FMS such as Puntland rejected the law noting the Agreement was inadequate and did not address the issue of equity in sharing of the oil revenues. The new government will need to re-open talks on this matter to ensure it conforms with the dictates of the Provisional Constitution, international best practices and unique situation of Somalia.
Disputes over resources have cost many lives in Somalia and continue to do so to date. We often here reports of clans massacring each other over water and pasture. It will be unfortunate if the oil finds in Somalia could turn out to be a flash point between the FGS and FMS as well as among the FMS. We cannot, as a state be jumping from one conflict into another.
Constitutional Review Process
This year marks a decade since Somalia adopted a Provisional Constitution which has failed to transition into a substantive constitution despite several efforts by previous administrations. The Constitution is the supreme guide on how nations manage their affairs such that if we get it wrong, all else goes south. Building on the collective will in the war against Al-Shabaab and notable international support, President Mohamud’s administration should take advantage of this prevailing goodwill to relaunch, once and for all the roadmap towards the completion of the constitution. The encouraging factor in this process is that we have already singled out the contentious issues which need to be subjected inclusive citizen participation before it is adopted through either parliament or popular vote.
The completion of the constitutional review process and its subsequent promulgation will be one of the single-most milestones in Somalia’s state building process. It will address lingering questions on the structure of the state, the judiciary, resources sharing, several aspects of federalism including fiscal federalism among others. A complete constitution will also heal the pressing question regarding the power and authority of the president and prime minister.
An open system of governance builds public confidence in government and inspires citizens to actively take part in the management of state affairs. Since the first decade of this millennium, Somalia has ranked among the most corrupt countries in the world. Despite the lack of publicly available quantitative data, it is clear that we lose a significant chunk of public money and resources to a few individuals. The opportunity is there to reverse this trend by making theft or misuse of public resources severely punishable. President Mohamed Farmaajo rushed through the formation of the anti-corruption commission and appointed commissioners at the tail end of his administration. Whereas the move may have demonstrated a desire to fight corruption, it suffered a political heatwave that reduced it into a political campaign tool. President Mohamud’s administration should move with haste to redefine the anti-graft commission, retool and re-staff in line with the law and international best practices. Open governance also entails streamlining government operations to provide for transparent tendering, contracting, resource allocation and distribution and a citizen-centred approach that provides the forum for citizens to actively participate in the management of their country and resources.
Building on domestic and international goodwill, the current administration ought to focus itself on taking Somalia forward in realisation of the aspirations and dreams of our nation.
Writer: Abdirahman Yusuf Ali
Uistaag Dadka iyo Dalka
Social, Youth and Peace activist