4 Jan 4, 2012 - 8:43:29 AM
An open letter (published on Hiiraan Online), dated 31 Dec 2011, and signed by 85 persons was sent to the UN Security Council Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon with copies given to the African Union and the Arab League. This open letter aims to depict a negative image regarding the success of the Garowe constitutional conference (Dec. 21-24, 2011), which led to the signing of the Garowe Principles by Somali stakeholders, as part of the Roadmap process.
It is not lost upon anyone that, Mr. Abdiqassim Salad Hassan and Mr. Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, the first two names who signed the open letter, are former politicians who failed during their terms. In refreshing our memories, it is suffice to say that Mr. Abdiqassim, during his term as TNG President (2000-2003), funded and armed clan warlords (i.e. Indhacade) to seize, terrorize and subjugate the civilians belonging to the unarmed clans of the Shabelle and Jubba regions of southern Somalia. While receiving favorable press coverage, Mr. Farmajo still managed to lose his job after serving seven months as TFG Prime Minister. Even if he did not fail administratively, he still failed politically and he still yearns to resurface one day as Somali President.
What is written in the open letter is shameful politicking. The document is full of errors and misleading interpretation. For example, article two reads: “The pact essentially nullifies the Transitional National Charter (TNC), and it replaces the Transitional Federal Parliament with a National Constituency Assembly (NCA).”
It is difficult to imagine that a group of “intellectuals” could misinterpret language in such manner. First of all, the Somali government is mandated under the 2004 Transitional Federal Charter – not the Transitional National Charter. Secondly, according to the Garowe Principles, a National Constituent Assembly comprising of 1,000 persons (30% women) is tasked with provisional adoption of the Somali Federal Constitution by way of “yes or no” vote. The NCA shall exist legally only for the month of May 2012, according to the signed document. The NCA does not have any legislative authority and the current 550-seat Somali parliament shall be in place until a new parliament is sworn-in in June 2012.
Thirdly, the open letter criticizes UNPOS for allowing Sharif Hassan to sign the Garowe Principles as TFP Speaker. The open letter makes no mention that the Dec. 13 vote to “remove” Sharif Hassan as speaker was controversial and ignited the ongoing parliamentary disputes, including televised brawls among MPs. It seems that the signatories of the open letter are not neutral with regard to the ongoing parliamentary dispute and therefore are pushing a particular agenda.
The open letter states: “The process of selecting new members of the future Somali parliament should be wholly driven by communal-constituency assembly, led by traditional elders, not opportunistic politicians.”
Similarly, the Garowe Principles states: “Members of the new federal parliament will be nominated by recognized traditional elders assisted by qualified civil society members, none of whom shall have any political aspirations.”
The Principles is very clear to state that, in line with the recommendation of the open letter, “opportunistic politicians” will not nominate Somali MPs of the new federal parliament. The MPs will be nominated by the community elders assisted by civil society notables. It seems the open letter agrees with the Garowe Principles with regard to parliament nominations.
The true “opportunistic politicians” are among the signatories of this shameful open letter. What Somalis expected from “intellectuals” is congratulations to Somali leaders who convened a national conference, engaged in debates and negotiations, and produced a document mapping out the constitutional tasks ahead in order to complete the transitional phase. Congratulations – for agreeing to downsize the current bloated 550-seat parliament, where you can find warlords and even mentally unstable MPs, to a manageable 225-seat parliament. Congratulation is needed, because Somalia needs a morale boost, not another negative campaign to mislead and discourage our people.
Finally, in reading between the lines of the open letter, it is clear to see that the “opportunistic politicians” who signed the document could not find their name or a role in the Garowe Principles. They felt excluded from the political process and the hope of magically resurfacing in Somali political leadership seemed to vanish into thin air.
Whatever the case may be, shameful politicking cannot undue the historic Somali constitutional conference in Garowe. Better luck next decade.
Garowe Online Editorial
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