Sunday, 31 May 2015
On May 6, the Italian Institute for International Affairs- “Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI)” in Rome- held one day high level closed door seminar sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Embassy of Italy to Somalia. The Title of the Seminar was “Somali Perspectives: Institutional and Political Challenges.”
President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali of Puntland, Vice President Abdullahi Sheikh Ismail and Minister Abdighani Abdi Jama of Jubbaland, the Somali Ambassador to Italy, Mussa Hassan Abdulle, the Somali Ambassador at Large Abdirashid A. Sed, and Political Analyst Faisal A. Roble attended the seminar. Marco Claudio Vozzi and Carlo Campanile represented the foreign Ministry of Italy. IAI Officials and experts steered the seminar.
The report of the seminar highlights the participants’ positions and suggestions on Federalism and the nexus between security and development. It suggests change of policy priority of Italy towards Somalia from “state to state” relation to “state to regional federal states” relation. It also proposes the mobilization of international support for the clan dominated regional States at the expense of the Somali State which itself exists ostensibly.
The suggested policy shift of Italy subverts the Somali priorities listed in the 2012 provisional constitution, then restated in the Somali Compact between the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) and the International donor Community (Partners) agreed upon in Brussels, Belgium in September 2013, for the promotion of peacebuilding and statebuilding in Somalia.
The organizers of the seminar passed up the opportunity to get fair and balanced Somali perspectives because they avoided to invite critical observers of the current troubling reality in Somalia exacerbated by the implementation of federalism without constitutional and legislative provisions. Therefore, the recommendations of the report are based on incomplete or inaccurate assessment of the reality in Somalia.
The report reemphasizes the view of “clan” federalism as “the most viable option to stabilize Somalia after 20 years of conflict and fragmentation,” and as a fact on the ground. Two of the fallacious reasons adduced in support of this view are “to prevent the reimplementation of failed policies in centrally controlled system of government in Mogadishu and “to compensate the inability of the central government to maintain control over the national territory.”
Those fallacious reasons assume two things. First, every government in the capital Mogadishu is prototype of the ousted military dictatorship regime. Second, a capable central government based in Mogadishu failed to maintain control over the national territory for incompetence. Both assumptions are false.
In reality, the federal government lacks the legitimacy and ability to exercise control over territory beyond Mogadishu. On the other hand, the return of dictatorship is possible only when the Somali citizens tolerate the violations of the fundamental democratic principles of the provisional constitution. No respect for the rule of law and individual liberty is license for abuse of power, corruption, and anarchy.
Today, the highest priority for Somalia is the unity of the people and integration of the territory divided by the civil war and the re-establishment of legitimate and effective central authority that strictly adheres to the constitution and the principles of good governance. The critical challenge is not the division of competence between central and local governments but it is the embracing of shared future through reconciliation, common territorial and political ownership, and allegiance to common citizenship.
The US Secretary of State said in Mogadishu, “We all have a stake in what happens here in Somalia. The world cannot afford to have places on the map that are essentially ungoverned.” Today, Somalia is practically no different from an ungoverned place.
Continued disputes and hostilities among regional authorities prevent the effectiveness of national central authority able to provide leadership, national representation, justice, security, and socio-economic development to the Somali citizens. Somalia will not be an independent and sovereign state without an effective central authority protected by Somali national security and defense forces.
The participants of the seminar recognized that the form or model of the Somali federalism is yet to be defined and formalized in constitution. This fact defeats the argument that clan federalism is a fact or necessity or the only option against disintegration.
Clan federalism cannot heal the social ills caused by civil war. Contrary, it deepens national disintegration and disharmony. The current “censure motion” of the federal parliament against Jubbaland State, the exchange of accusations between Southwest and Jubbaland leaders, and the vehement opposition of Puntland against the formation of Mudug and Galgudud state and possible war over Galkaio control substantiate the claim that clan federalism is an obstacle to Somali national solidarity and progress. More worrying is that the syndrome of clan federalism in Somalia has traversed into the Somali inhabited regions of Ethiopia and Kenya, and fomented clan wars intended to impose the domination of clans supported by government forces.
Ironically, the people and political forces of Italy rejected federal system that divides the country into north and south or into autonomous regions and metropolitans spearheaded by the Lega Nord and Forza Italia. They supported political and fiscal decentralization under a unitary system of governance. The main reason for the rejection of federalism was to maintain national unity, equal welfare, and citizenship. Therefore, Somalia should not be an experiment for federalism that separates people by keeping alive civil war scars and grievances.
Undoubtedly, the FGS bungled the opportunity offered by the New Deal Strategy by failing to comply with the performance and policy prescriptions required or implied in the Somali Compact. But more harmful, Italy works against the principles and goals of the framework of the New Deal Strategy specifically developed to help the fragile (failed) States like Somalia. The quick forsaking of the New Deal is a disaster for the fragile States.
The release of IAI report coincided with the publication of the research paper of Professor Afyare Elmi in May 2015 under the title, “Decentralized Unitary System: A Possible Middle Ground Model for Somalia.” The research paper focused on the question for rebuilding a sustainable, independent, sovereign, and democratic State of Somalia.
Professor Afyare identified four major domestic grievances that are vexing the Somali people: Trust deficit; Demand for democracy; Access to basic service; and Call for equitable share of resources. The neighboring countries (Ethiopia and Kenya), the international community, and Somali leaders used these grievances to push for clan based federalism as a solution that keeps each clan in separate traditional territories.
Through objective analysis of the current literature on various forms of federalism and the Somali history and culture, Professor Afyare has concluded that a decentralized unitary system is the most suitable model of governance for Somalia. He made the unity of the country as the central tenet for rebuilding the Somali State without overlooking the necessity to address domestic grievances and any legitimate external interest. The meltdown of clan federalism paves the way for a decentralized unitary system
The clan political entities and relative stabilities existing in certain areas of Somalia are under grave threats by complex problems: poverty, unemployment, extremism, political alienation, clan conflicts, rival interferences of foreign countries, wars and instabilities in regional countries, and endemic corruption and criminal activities. The political crisis bedeviling the Federal Government, Puntland, Jubbaland, Southwest, and Somaliland are good examples.
Somalia needs a central government that respects the democratic system of governance and able to provide the functions of State. The establishment of an effective central authority complemented by subsidiary local authorities with powers, responsibilities, and adequate resources to govern, is essential to leave behind the stigma of failed state.
Mr. Mohamud M Uluso
Saturday, 30 May 2015
By Karim Lebhour
DJIBOUTI ( AFP) — For years the Horn of Africa nation Djibouti was seen by foreign powers as a far-flung military outpost overlooking the Gulf of Aden. Now the strategic port wants to capitalise on its key position on one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, the gateway to the Suez canal.
Djibouti offers an African base across from the Arabian Peninsula at the crossroads for cargo traffic between Asia and Europe.
It may be a tiny country of around 850,000 people, but it has a bold ambition to become the commercial hub of eastern Africa, building on its role as the main port for landlocked Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous country.
To achieve that the former French colony has embarked on a series of infrastructure projects expected to cost some $14bn. Offshore from historic Djibouti city, the waters are crowded with a mix of hulking warships, giant container cargo vessels and the traditional wooden fishing dhows that have plied the seas here for centuries.
But a short drive away, Chinese workers are busy building a giant new terminal dedicated to container ships from Asia.
Work is concentrated on the first of six new specialised docking terminals — each one focusing on different commodities including minerals, livestock, oil and gas — to add to the two terminals already in operation.
“More and more shipping lines are interested in Djibouti, we are now making the way to be a Dubai, even Singapore!” said Suleiman Ahmed, a senior executive at Doraleh container terminal.
Cargo trade is booming. It has increased between six and 10% each year, with Djibouti enjoying growth partly because other regional ports are struggling.
Kenya’s port city of Mombasa is already overstretched, while the secretive Red Sea state of Eritrea sees little if any traffic.
And Yemen’s once key port of Aden — just across the Gulf of Aden from Djibouti — is now a war zone.
“Mombasa is congested, Eritrea is not a welcoming country, but Djibouti is a strategic and safe location — we rely on it,” Ahmed said.
In a volatile region, Djibouti hopes to build a reputation of stability and security.
It hosts several foreign military bases, including Camp Lemonnier, the US military headquarters on the continent used for covert, anti-terror and other operations in Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere across Africa.
France and Japan also have bases in Djibouti, which has been used by European and other international navies as a base in the fight against piracy from neighbouring Somalia.
Earlier this month, President Ismail Omar Guelleh told AFP that “discussions are ongoing,” with China concerning a potential military base, saying Beijing’s presence would be “welcome”.
Djibouti now wants to position itself as the gateway for Asia into Africa.
“From Egypt to South Africa, the eastern coast of Africa has only nine coastal countries,” said Abubaker Omar Hadi, chairman of Djibouti Ports and Free Zones Authority, waving his hand over a map of the continent on the wall of his office.
“This has created 10 landlocked countries, 400-million people who have no access to the sea. They are the ones we want to serve.” For now, Djibouti mainly serves Ethiopia’s 94-million consumers, but the ambition of Djibouti extends to the entire African continent.
As well as its massive port expansion, Djibouti wants to add two new airports, a modern railway and build industrial areas.
At present, the country’s small airport sees French Mirage fighter jets share its one runway with civilian aircraft. But the government plans to replace that with an international airport with a capacity of 1.5-million passengers annually, some 25km from Djibouti city.
A total of 14 infrastructure projects are planned in Djibouti totalling some $14.4bn, mainly financed by Chinese banks. But some are wary of such huge investments for a country with less than a million people.
“There was no market research and parliament was never consulted,” said opposition lawmaker Doualeh Egueh Ofleh, who said he was worried about the financial risk the projects could pose.
“When we take the loans from the World Bank and Western institutions, there was some control… now with the Chinese, we take all possible loans for all projects without any control,” he added, predicting Beijing would control the country’s infrastructure if Djibouti failed to repay its debts.
But Djibouti’s government is betting on strong African economic growth to recoup the investment.
“Even before Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong, the economic and maritime hubs in the region were Aden and Djibouti,” says port authority chief Abubaker Omar Hadi. “We know what to do to regain our place.”
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