Sunday, July 12, 2020
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THE PROSPECTS FOR POLITICAL RECONCILIATION IN SOMALIA

By Mohamed A. Fatah

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Somali politics represent the main threat to the security and stability of the nation. The political disputes between the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), and the Federal Member States (FMSs) over the provisional constitution, federalism, election laws, democracy, security, rule of law and resource sharing has continued well into 2020 and many issues are not settled. The result of the crisis continues to burden the country. According to reports, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, Prime Minister Hassan Ali Kheyre, and Fahad Yasin, the Director of the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) are using intimidation, and corruption to weaken the parliament and extend their term, compounding the crisis, and leading to the Somali people, the FMS, and opposition groups losing confidence in the leadership of Farmaajo, and Kheyre.

The crisis is imperiling Somalia and undermining progress. To end the dispute, and to avoid political collapse of the federal government, and refocus all stakeholders on improving the political stability and security of the nation, Farmaajo, Kheyre, and Fahad must end the perpetual crisis they have created, and have been fueling over the past three years, and prioritize dialogue with all stakeholders to advance the interest of the Somali people. Without an agreement and clearly defined policy objectives and goals, the federal government, and FMSs, along with the international donors, cannot prioritize efforts in political reconciliation, stability, security, and economic development, as well as electoral reforms, institutional capacity building, and other important issues as part of “good governance”, “democratization”, or state-building”. 

PERPETUAL POLITICAL CONFLICT, A VOLATILE GOVERNMENT STRUGGLES

President Farmaajo and PM Hassan Kheyre

Over three years after the election of President Farmaajo, and selection of Prime Minister Kheyre, Somalia is in a turmoil and the future of federalism is shaky, and prospect for political agreement with FMSs and opposition leaders are in serious doubt. Along with upcoming 2020/2021 elections, worsening security conditions, and potential health and economic downturn due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic looms heavily on the fragile country. In this critical and defining moment, Farmaajo, and Kheyre’s leadership and stewardship must be questioned, because of their grandstanding and failure to negotiate to end the crisis with FMSs and opposition leaders in the interest of the nation, making political stability and security of the nation even harder to achieve let alone sustain.

The risks Somalia faces include Farmaajo – Kheyre – Fahad fueled conflict, political instability, and corrupting of national and state institutions including the federal parliament. The risks also include the use of government resources and machinery for narrow political benefits, especially the use of security forces and intelligence services for election-related purposes to support Farmaajo, Kheyre, and Fahad Yasin’s efforts to extend FGS term, undermining the interim constitution and democracy. The attempts to delay the 2020/2021 elections and extend the FGS term without credible national elections is unconstitutional and will set a dangerous precedent for future Somali governments, and usher a lengthy period of political instability, uncertainty, and conflict that would aggravate security and stabilization efforts.

STALLED POLITICAL PROCESS, AND PROSPECT FOR RECONCILIATION

The political process has stalled since the current dispute started in 2017. It’s been over a year since the leaders of the Federal Government of Somalia and the Federal Members States had a National Security Council (NSC) meeting. Therefore, a dialogue is needed to address key challenges to getting the stalled process back on track. The biggest obstacles to reaching an agreement are Farmaajo, Kheyre, and Fahad Yasin’s corrupting of the parliament and meddling in FMSs affairs. With the use of unregulated foreign funds, the FGS corrupted the parliament and meddled in FMS institutions and elections to elect Villa Somalia allies and yes-man.

These elections served to implement narrow interests of Farmaajo and Kheyre to enhance their status and facilitate their re-election. Without the checks and balances from parliament, FGS leaders have accumulated powers in a “winner-take-all” approach that avoids accountability and reaching an agreement with FMSs to ensure an inclusive government that serves all stakeholders.

The turmoil threatens to reverse hard-won political, security and economic gains achieved over the last decade by successive governments and threatens to close a rare opportunity to bring peace, security, stability, and economic development to Somalia. The FMSs, political leaders and other stakeholders must continue to pressure the Farmaajo-Kheyre- Fahad Yasin to end the crisis and negotiate with FMSs and the opposition leaders to establish a new mechanism for diverse stakeholders to participate in the political process.

Somalia is now beset with serious challenges and faces resurgent violent extremist groups. If left unresolved, the crisis will also become a security and economic crisis that would increase the risk of conflict and instability in the fragile nation. The stability of the nation requires all stakeholders to work together. However, the federal government is widening the divide.

 To move forward, political issues must first be resolved. Political stability, improved security, and combating corruption is required to sustain and build on progress made. Farmaajo and Kheyre must do more to combat corruption and establish transparency and accountability in the government. Despite FGS claims, Somalia is ranked the most corrupt country by Transparency International in 2019 corruption perceptions index (180/180 countries) and a score of (9/100). 

SOMALI PARLIAMENT ABDICATION OF RESPONSIBILITY 

The crisis was precipitated by two factors. The first is the FGS leader’s use of unregulated foreign funds to corrupt the parliament, political process, government institutions, and elections. The second is the parliament’s abdication of responsibility and failure to play its constitutionally defined role as a check on executive branch excess and overreaches. With 70+ members double-dipping and moonlighting as members of the executive branch, Villa Somalia established a patronage system that allowed dark money to corrupt and influence members of parliament.

The parliament and Villa Somalia have become a cesspool of corruption, and self-dealing, with Pro-FGS members of parliament and politicians lugging suitcases stuffed with cash from foreign sources. FGS leaders flooded the system with unregulated foreign money and the International Community turned blind eye to corrupting of the parliament and state elections. In public, as FGS illegally interfered in parliament and FMS affairs, including facilitating the removal of former the speaker and the election of a pro-FGS speaker. In addition, FGS using funds from foreign sources interfered in the elections of Hirshabelle, Southwest, Puntland, Jubaland, and Galmudug, providing millions to allies in the states. The parliament and the IC partners failed to crackdown and hold FGS accountable. Instead, some in parliament and International donors looked the other away and allowed corruption to become systematic and more entrenched.

Read More: The Prospects for Political Reconciliation in Somalia

Mohamed A. Fatah
Email:  [email protected]

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Mr. Mohamed A. Fatah is a Somali-American executive with over 15+ years’ experience in foreign policy, national security, and regulatory compliance. Mr. Fatah advised current and former Somali federal governments on foreign policy, national security, diplomacy, and engagement with the international community. Prior to that, Mr. Fatah had a distinguished career in the U.S. Government where he served as Senior Advisor and Policy Coordinator to the White House / National Security Council. Mr. Fatah routinely analyzed global issues of concern, resulting in clear, concise, analysis and briefings for the President of the United States, Senior Policymakers at the White House/ National Security Council, and Congress.  Mr. Fatah brings to any discussion an unparalleled depth of expertise, advising the US government, the Pentagon and Congress on political, security, development matters in Somalia and the Horn of Africa region.


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