Communique: Nabaddoon Conference
Columbus, Ohio–In an attempt to put Somalia above all other interests—personal, clanal, regional or foreign—a group of Somali nationalists have assembled to pave the way for a long-term strategic campaign to reclaim their nation.
The Nabaddoon conference on Somalia was held in Columbus, Ohio on November 28-29, 2014.
Participants who were from diaspora and the homeland came from various backgrounds, professions, ages and gender. The aim of the conference was to identify and put in motion Somali-owned processes for sustainable resolution of Somalia’s protracted political conflict.
The participants (hereafter referred to as members) have acknowledged that within the Somali political landscape there exists almost all elements and fault-lines that researches confirm to cause or prolong civil wars:
A collapsed state
Lack of sustainable peace agreement or a coerced peace agreement before intervention
Presence of multiple spoilers such as domestic/foreign profiteers
Narratives of hate and hostile or warring parties
Number of militia groups and disloyal soldiers
The presence of disposal of natural resources
The presence of hostile neighboring states or networks
Demands for secession
Strategic location and the intensity of the geopolitical appetite of global powers
The members explored various conflict resolution models. After two days of genuine dialogue on the root causes and potential solutions for Somalia’s political, legal, institutional and security issues, the conference reached consensus on the following essential concerns and recommendations:
1. Constitutional Issues:
The members expressed concern at the current political crisis between the President and the Prime Minister which emanates from ambiguity in the provisional constitution. The conference, therefore, recommends:
The provision of all necessary resources and political support to the recently created Constitutional Review Commission in order to address and harmonize discrepancies in the provisional constitution and make it ready for referendum by 2016.
The suspension of the haphazard rush to create regional administrations until the relevant constitutional bodies and regulatory institutions, such as the Boundaries and Federation Commission, are established.
Expeditious establishment of the Judicial Service Commission in order to reform the judiciary and facilitate the creation of the Constitutional Court.
Thorough re-evaluation of the Executive Branch in order to determine whether or not the current structure is the most suitable.
2. Institutional Issues:
The members expressed concern at the slow pace of institution-building at all levels of government in Somalia. The provisional constitution stipulates that the process of building government institutions should be driven by the people and that government authority should be exercised where it is most effective and closest to the people. In this regard, the conference recommends:
Building the administrative capacity of districts and municipalities in order to prepare local citizens to participate in electing their political representatives by 2016. Attracting human capital on the basis of merit in order to build and manage robust public institutions and respond to the serious brain-drain that resulted from two decades of anarchy in Somalia.
3. Political Issues:
Due to the existential threat emanating from clanism, the conference stresses upon Somalia’s leaders on the importance of replacing the current 4.5 clan power-sharing formula with a more legitimate national political system. It is clear that the 4.5 clan formula is an impediment to the building of institutions and restoring ethical and credible governance in Somalia. As a result, the conference recommends:
The immediate passing of a Political Parties Act to pave the way for the creation of a legal framework through which the party system can be operationalized.
The number of the parties must be limited in number in order to prevent creation of endless clan-based political parties with zero-sum motivations.
The national political parties must have presence in all 18 regions of Somalia.
In order to reduce the role of the clan as the sole political stakeholder, political parties should be funded and the party or coalition with the largest number of seats in parliament should afforded the powers to appoint the national leadership of the country.
The government must highlight and empower the individual citizen as the primary and legitimate stakeholder.
4. Natural Resources:
There is an increasing level of competition between the Federal Government of Somalia and regional governments to award concessions and other contracts for Somalia’s natural resources to multinational corporations.
The members expressed grave concern over this ominous trend that can only add new layers of complexities to an already complex situation.
The members have asserted their unequivocal position that all natural resource contracts signed after the fall of the central government of Somalia in 1991 are null and void and that no new contracts should be signed until the proper security, institutional and legal infrastructures are put in place.
5. Security Considerations:
Due its politicized and increasingly overbearing nature, the presence of African Union troops in Somalia is about to cross its usefulness. Among other things, the removal of Al Shabab from new towns has been inconsistent and there are allegations of human rights abuses by AMISOM soldiers in Somalia. The members, therefore, demand:
The formulation of an AMISOM exit strategy f that would transfer all security matters to the government within two years.
Said strategy must include clear timelines, benchmarks and deliverables.
The government must appoint a high level military/security commission to oversee the transfer. The commission members must have proven capacity and experience.
The government must spearhead the implementation of the National Security Stabilization Plan.
The government must reconsider Somalia’s membership of IGAD so long as the latter maintains its current political configuration. Government should request to become a non-voting observer until IGAD’s original mandate is restored.
The members called for Somali citizens, political organizations, civil society and the Diaspora to initiate genuine reconciliations at all levels and reach out across existing divisions with empathy, goodwill, forgiveness and forbearance. The conference underscores the importance of diligently working toward the liberation of the average Somali from past resentments and current zero-sum objectives for the sake of the greater good of Somalia and all Somalis.
The government must immediately nominate a Chairperson of high integrity, good character and good reputation to lead an Independent Reconciliation Commission with a clear (parliament approved) mandate.
The Chairperson must assemble her or his team of commissioners based on the aforementioned criteria.
The members conceded to the fact that there is no quick fix to the Somali political problem; and that all serious transformative initiatives must come in the form of a self-less movement with a long-term strategic vision that puts Somalia and Somalis first.
The members appeal to Somalis in general, and the Somali youth in particular, to galvanize a critical mass of Somalis of all clans, ages, education and social status to join us in turning this first step into a robust movement to bring about sustainable peace and profound political transformation.