According to the “Population Estimation Survey 2014 for the 18 pre-war regions of Somalia,” carried out by the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA), the population of Somalia is estimated about 12,316,895 million divided into urbans (5,216,392), rural (2,806,757), nomads (3,186,965), and Internally displaced people-IDP- (1,106,751), living in 18 regions under different polities. The purpose of the population estimation has been to develop political, economic, social, and security policies that improve the lives of the entire population. Therefore, bringing these different groups under the rule of a central democratic government is paramount.
The delay in the emergence of centrally ruling entity jeopardizes peace and stability in Somalia. Thus, lawful, credible free, fair, and transparent “selection and election process” which promotes a national political change in August 2016 is the stepping stone for democratic central government. The repeat of the farce 2012 selection/election process or another worse process will be a lethal injection into Somalia’s statehood and nationhood. The international community dominates the political and security process in Somalia and bears the primary responsibility for the occurrence of such unfortunate fatal fate. The UN Security Council remains actively seized of the matter of Somalia.
The no extension declaration for the term of office for the president and members of parliament of the federal government reiterated in the UN Security Council Resolution S/Res/2275 (2016) of 24th March 2016 will remain meaningless and deceptive if it is not responded with a legitimate democratic plan of selection/election process that withstands the test of the guiding principles for competitive, free, and fair selection/election process. It is self-evident that the time has run out for orderly, legitimate, competitive, free, and fair election before August 2016.
Foreign patrons, political scandals, corruption, and abuse of state power have deepened the conviction that Somalia is for unscrupulous characters and thieves. The UN Security Council received openly or confidentially many reports about “cash for votes” perpetrated by the federal government. The sharing of the confidential reports with the Somali people is overdue.
By welcoming the electoral model for the selection process of 275 members of the people’s House and the distribution of 54 seats of the Upper House of the federal parliament to federal member states without legal act and agreed upon detailed plan of implementation, the International Community has denied preemptively the Somali people, particularly 1,650,277 people residing in Benadir region, the legitimacy and opportunity to exercise their political rights as citizens. The ongoing political process has ignited inflammatory, divisive, and dangerous discourse within the Somali society.
Furthermore, the new agreement between Puntland and the federal government signed today in Garowe will intensify the controversy and complicate the Somali political system. The agreement establishes essential rules of 2016 election. On the other hand, by accepting the 4.5 electoral model without putting the agreement to referendum in Puntland, the president of Puntland will face barrages of criticism from different corners. The change of position indicates the discretionary political power of the Somali leaders at all levels.
Recently, Anthony Banbury, former Assistant Secretary General for Field Support published an opinion article titled–I the Love the U.N., but it is failing – in the New York Times and other major international newspapers. He criticizes the role of UN in Somalia and other countries. The predominant roles of IGAD, AU, UN, EU, and specific influential international actors in Somalia are major contributors to the Somali problems and failures.
Despite years of concerted efforts including deployment of more than 25 thousand foreign forces in Somalia and billions of dollars spent, few months ago, the US and EU governments ranked Somalia with Libya and Yemen as high risk country to the international peace and security. The US State Department issued warning against travelling to or coming from Somalia. Members of the Somali-American and Somali-European Diaspora encouraged to go back to Somalia to help its recovery are now treated as high risk returnees at the international airports of their adopted countries. This is a serious dilemma which undermines all claims of progress and hopeful future made in the last four years. The solution is to have a democratic credible state that has international state attributes and can fulfill state functions.
The flaws and arbitrary decisions of 2012 transition process are continuing to shackle the peacebuilding and statebuilding process in Somalia. In its 2012 report titled, Somalia: from troubled transition to Tarnished Transition?, the International Crisis Group (ICG) suggested the formation of a caretaker government that would ensure continuity of government. After 4 years, Somalia faces the same predicament of political transition and deepening crisis that requires caretaker government.
SAFERWORLD, a non-profit international organization established in UK, issued in January 2016 a report authored by Sunil Suri under the title, “Barbed wire on our head”: Lessons from Counter-terror, stabilization and statebuilding in Somalia,” The report focuses on the role of US, UK, and EU in Somalia and emphasizes the view that while the rationale underpinning the engagement of these three countries in Somalia has been heavily centered on reducing the threat of terrorism, there are five conflict drivers, underlying the Somali instability and political chaos: poor governance, marginalization and exclusion; impunity; corruption; competition for resources; and politicization of clan identity. Therefore, the author recommends to the trio a policy shift that takes into consideration the evolving conflict drivers in Somalia which will ultimately reduce the threat of terrorism.
Another international report that has bearing on 2016 political election in Somalia is the “Freedom in the World 2016” issued by the Freedom House. Somalia/Somaliland is one of 12 worst countries in the world in terms of overall score of freedom and democracy and has scored 2 as “not free country,” for the score scale 0=the worst and 100=the best. For freedom rating in terms of political rights and civil liberties, Somalia scored 7 in the scale of 1=most free and 7= not free, which means that Somalia is not a free country. Only Syria and Tibet are worse than Somalia. This has far reaching implications for the political election both in “Somalia” in 2016 and “Somaliland” in 2017. Use of foreign or state powers and resources for gaining or keeping power is fueling public disenchantment that sustains political conflicts and insecurity.
In the framework of political dispensation, 6 million of the Somali people whose lives depend on the 2016 Humanitarian Response Plan administered by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) are not in the picture. The plan presents statistical data that disturbs the conscience of responsible people. In 2016, OCHA appeals for 885 million dollars for life-saving and livelihood of those 6 million Somalis. The Somali authorities are accused of forced evictions of IDPS and other urban poor from public and private buildings in Mogadishu and other urban places without proper arrangement. The Humanitarian statistics measure national failure and lack of progress.
Professor Ken Menkhaus old friend of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has delivered scathing presentation against the performance of the Somali governments at Maxwell School of Syracuse University, about “Statebuilding and Non-State Armed Actors in Somalia.” He labelled the federal government as a failure that controls few neighborhoods in Mogadishu. He suggested that Somali leaders are predators, who lack political will and capacity (Wicked Problem), determined to maintain the status quo of state failure and political chaos for personal interests. He provided pessimistic picture about the overall situation in Somalia with the exception of few local places. Nevertheless, he unenthusiastically favored the continuation of statebuilding support.
On March 24, Matt Bryden, co-author of the “Vision 2016” spoke at Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. In reference to the 2016 electoral process in Somalia, the headline of his presentation was “The Race Against Time.” With little time left, he highlighted the complex issues that needs to be debated and agreed upon before 2016 election. He pointed out that for the implementation of any selected electoral model will rise many questions with no answers.
In the face of these assessments and analysis, the international community should not hide behind bureaucratic curtain and fictional deadlines. Like in 2012, the Somali federal institutions lost legitimacy and relevance and few personalities are empowered for deciding 2016 political dispensation. Corrupt and manipulated 2016 selection/election process hailed and defended by the international community will not lead to better political inclusivity, reliable security, respect of human rights, economic improvement, and democratic governance. The international Community must support and stand behind a free and fair 2016 selection/election process from planning to implementation and statebuilding agenda founded on united and integrated Somalia.
Mr. Mohamud M Uluso