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There are a few simple steps along the way to establish a regional state in Somali context. These are critical steps to follow for a successful conclusion of the creation of a federal state:
1. Respectful of the Federal Constitution, two or more regions must have common political, security and economic interests and must have potential to operate as a cohesive political block as well as a viable and sustainable economic unit.
2. Regions must have overwhelming grass-root support for the idea of creating their own state. These include all levels of their masses, and traditional elders at forefront.
3. A fully representative people’s congress must be held initially as Consultative Conference to resolve and agree upon:
a) Endorsement of the very idea and need for the creation of the state
b) Selection of Constitutional Committee for drafting the state’s constitution
c) Selection of Preparatory Committee for the final Constitutional Congress
d) Selection of Chairing Committee of the Constitutional Congress
e) Selection of Fund-raising and Finance Committee
f) Selection of Security Committee
g) Selection of logistics and Accommodation Committee
h) Selection of the venue of the Constitutional Congress
i) Allocation of delegates to each participating region to the Constitutional Congress for the subsequent division among clans in each region along the traditional sub-clan proportionality.
j) Creation of an atmosphere of voluntarism and regional political activism to spark off enthusiasm for urgent people’s action and personal contributions.
k) Avoidance of confrontation with central authorities in the attempt to create the state.
4. Convention of Constitutional Congress to pass the draft Constitution.
5. Setting up an independent electoral or supervisory Committee with the formulation of criteria for their mandate.
6. Election of the Chief Executive Officers (e.g. President, Vice President) if they are to be elected by the Congress.
7. Selection of members of the Legislative Council (local parliament) by the participating regions either directly by the residents or in an indirect democratic fashion by their constituencies through traditional customs to be double-checked by the Electoral Committee; Election of the Speaker and his Assistants, and immediately the Chief Executive Officers by the newly constituted Assembly if they are to be elected that way.
8. Start of regional power-sharing negotiations to form the Cabinet.
Critical mistakes to avoid:
1. When forming a regional state, never start from power-sharing approach. This is a non-starter and a recipe for failure.
2. Avoid prematurely announcing candidates for leadership and never allow anyone to put their candidacy forward until the final execution of points 1-5 above. This is the main source of division within the participants and sure factor to fail the whole idea of successfully concluding the efforts.
3. Denounce anyone seeking special clan, regional privileges or status.
3. Suppress any hints of intimidation against Congress participants. Free will of people and expression must reign supreme. Everyone must feel comfortable and feel secure and safe in the Congressional environment. Everyone must feel ownership of the state to be created.
All successful Somali regional conferences including those of Puntland, Somaliland and TFG conform to the above simple steps. All those failed violated them by starting first with power-sharing and leadership competitions.
A strong nation must be built on positive arguments and never ceasing constructive debates. If you follow the story of the Government of the United States, a successful union in the history of human race, it is built entirely on democratic discourse. I strongly believe that a nation built on arguments will never fall and will beat all other nations. It is not “gossiping” as President Hassan Sh Mohamud put it recently. It is a part and parcel of democracy and it is quite healthy. Current Somali debates are still mixture of all sorts. Public consensus will eventually develop as the nation recovers and matures. I am very pleased with the lively debates underway within Somali communities world-wide. Excellent job, citizens!
Prime Minister Shirdon with Puntland President Faroole (Photo: Courtsey of Garoweonline)
His Excellency Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon today urges the international community to take note of the changed situation in Somalia and adjust their policies accordingly. In a hard-hitting editorial in The National, the leading English language newspaper of the Middle East, the Prime Minister calls on Somalia’s international partners to modify their policies to fit the new circumstances of “a fledgling democracy taking the first steps of reconstruction and development”:
“For years our international relations have been conducted on a one-way basis, invariably on a humanitarian level. That model is now an anachronism and must change. We are a sovereign government… and the outside world needs to start treating us like one. It is no good criticising our lack of government capacity and then funding NGOs to execute projects while sidelining government institutions altogether. This merely perpetuates a cycle of dependence, denies us the learning experience and ensures government capacity remains limited.”
In a wide-ranging editorial entitled “Somalia replaces extremism with a programme of reform”, the Prime Minister emphasises the recent security gains that have brought Al Shabaab to its knees. “To be discussing policing, tax collection and judicial reform in Galgadud, a region that only recently was a no-go area ravaged by extremists, gives you an indication of how far we have come,” he writes, commenting on last week’s Listening Tour to the regions, in which the PM also signed a landmark deal with Ahlu Sunna Waljamaa and facilitated the establishment of local administrations.
“Only recently we could barely move safely inside our own capital.” The Prime Minister also highlights the vigorous legislative activity within the government and parliament. “Laws are the foundation of a functioning state,” he writes, noting the forthcoming parliamentary votes on legislation governing human rights reform, judicial reform, and district and regional authorities reform.
“We will also be passing legislation restructuring the police and security forces, creating specialist anti-terrorism, anti-piracy and anti-trafficking institutions, governing the Central Bank, assisting refugees and providing legal aid.”
Perhaps nowhere is reform so critical as in policing and the judiciary. “Judicial reform is one of our greatest priorities,” the Prime Minister writes. “Nothing underlines the need to reform our police and judiciary more than the decision to send a rape victim and the journalist who interviewed her to prison. Yet that regrettable verdict was a symptom, not the cause, of the problem, a lack of the rule of law.”
The Prime Minister concludes with a call for strengthened partnerships adapted to the new realities. “The need for partnerships with our international friends, which the world will see at the London Somalia Conference in May, has never been greater. We know that we cannot do it alone, but there is no turning back.”
source: AMISOM MEDIA MONITORING–Prime Minister’s Media Office
Said Faadi’s recent open letter to Somalia’s incumbent President, H.E. Hassan Sh Mohamud, in WardheerNews was quite articulate, relatively fair and consistent with current political developments in Somalia and its nascent, renewed foreign relations. I, however, take some critical exceptions to the credit Mr. Faadi has accorded to the President regarding the latter’s recent foreign trips and high profile symbolic receptions he received in Washington, Brussels and London. One would also argue that a dignitary, who could not pull himself, organize and adhere to the basics of protocol requirements in his meetings with his foreign counterparts, and thus suddenly finding himself alone knocking the doors of 10 Dawning Street, has the diplomatic skills, leadership, efficient political machinery and think-tank in place to claim this credit within a few months after his election.
Am I being mean to the President? Not at all. Am I happy and pleased with the President’s successful foreign missions? Absolutely, yes! Then, one would ask logically, what was my problem for not giving the President the credit he might have deserved in securing meetings with President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron.
Well, here is my problem. Leaders of Western countries judge leaders of developing countries in black and white approach: Either they have created and own these leaders or they don’t regardless of the leadership qualities and vital national interests of developing countries (a euphemism for third grade and poor nations). To demonstrate this point in Somalia’s context, a few years ago I was Nairobi, Kenya, as the New Somali National Authorizing Officer (NAO) Designate with the European Union. At the time, the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (TFG) was trying to re-claim that position as a member of ACP (African-Caribbean-Pacific) countries through the Lome, Cotonou treaties with the EU. The NAO position was taken over by the European Commission as the Somalia’s Central Government collapsed in 1991. But, in the absence of a government in Somalia, there was no European Commission Delegation to Somalia. Strangely enough, the EU had created a “Somali Operating Unit” within the European Commission Delegation to Kenya, and acting arrogantly and disrespectfully of Somalis as the Official National Authorizing Officer for Somalia, representing the interests of the country within the world community, while at same time solely managing or mismanaging hundreds of millions of US dollars contributed and collected in the name of Somalia for relief and humanitarian assistance. Nairobi European Resident Officers working for the infamous “Somali Operating Unit” seemed to be trained in hatred and demeaning attitude towards the Somali person and especially, to any Somalia’s authorities, always bent to undermine Somalia’s credibility and abilities to function as sovereign.
While still in Nairobi, trying desperately to re-establish the Office of the National Authorizing Officer for Somalia to reconnect the TFG with the ACP establishment and world community, in general, I received a phone call from the Head of the “Operating Unit” during that period of time, informing me of planned visit to Nairobi by the European Commissioner for Development and humanitarian Assistance, Luis Michelle, to discuss on Somalia’s issues. The Unit Officer told me in that phone conversation that the Commissioner would not would like to meet with the Somalia’s TFG Prime Minister, Ali Mohamed Ghedi. I thought this was not only disrespectful, but also absurd and irrational. Prime Minister Ghedi, who was in town at the time, did meet with the Commissioner against the best wishes of that Officer.
To further demonstrate Western leaders hypocrisy in their dealings with and standards for poor and weak nations, when the Former President of the Transitional Federal Government, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, was making his first trip to New York a few months after the establishment of the TFG 2004, to attend the UN Annual General Assembly Meeting, the same United States Government of the day issued him a restricted diplomatic visa that he wouldn’t be allowed to travel beyond the perimeters of the City of New York. This was the Leader, who is genuinely the father of the 2nd Republic of Somalia; a man who laid the solid foundations for Somalia’s recovery, operating from his offices in villa Somalia, Mogadishu, after a long vacancy, and made possible for Mr. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to get elected President of the Somalia. The AMISOM, the National Security and Stabilization Plan and IGAD commitments to get involved in Somalia’s recovery are the selfless efforts, achievements and the historic works of the man. Would Somalis recognize and remember him? A government with zero revenue couldn’t function indefinitely. Western leaders through their surrogate organizations in Nairobi sabotaged the TFG, and finally when they feared that the Somali militants were fast becoming a threat to their own national security interests, they had to pick up the pieces again. However, they needed a new face since they messed up and lost credibility with Yusuf’s Government. They found that in former President Sheikh Sharif for only temporary use.
The question is: Why was TFG President Yusuf treated that way by Western leaders, Ethiopia? It is simple and pure; he was a nationalist and his own man. He was willing to pay any price in the best interests of his own country.
Finally, Prime Minister Shirdoon’s most recent statement in the media outlets on the formation of Jubaland Administration sounds like the proverbial boy whose mother was praying for God’s help to enable him speak , and when the son spoke up finally with obscene words addressed to his own parent, prayed again for his silence for good.
The Armo (Carmo) National Police Academy is a Somali Federal institution invested heavily by Somalia with the help of international organizations for the purpose of training police officers at national level. A good number of police officers have graduating the school over the years. Former cadets of the academy are already active police officers in Mogadishu and Puntland State of Somalia.
The current Somali Federal Government looks neglecting that important institution despite its declared policy statements on national security as priority number one. If this were not intended as double talk, Carmo Police Academy should be fully utilyzed as important infrastructure in the country. They should not be sending cadets all the way to Uganda when they can do the same here at home.
When the Military Junta led by General Siyad Barre overthrew the civilian government of Somalia in October 1969, the General was so timid that he could not inform the nation of the coup d’état that had just taken place, according to the late prominent elder and businessman Ali Barre ( Cidi Libaax). One day in the 1980s Ali Barre told me that in the early days after the Military takeover, he patted on the shoulders of Siyad Barre and encouraged him, “to speak to the people bravely like a man”. History is full of similar stories from Stalin to Mussolini to all petty and big dictators in history. Dictators, therefore, are not born, but created by their own people.
In the case of Somalia, there is a popular cliché in the native language, “wax la salaaxo, madaxxaa ugu sareeya” (meaning literarily the human head is the highest point someone can reach out and fondle”). In Somali setting, it means nobody is to be satisfied with the decisions and rulings of pertinent officials, bodies, departments and institutions until someone has the opportunity to go all the way to the Chief Executive Officer of the government, in most cases, the President. Based on my personal experience, everyone in the country, every Somali visitor from other parts of world, including the members of the large Somali Diaspora, seek to see the guy at top for whatever personal or mundane reasons they may have in mind. Some even bring foreign interested persons along with them to quickly secure their access to the President or Prime Minister. Failure to secure that opportunity is extremely disappointing to them. There is only 24 hours in a day and it is humanly impossible for everyone to meet with the President. Think about the enormous, unnecessary and extra burden on a Somali political leader, his offices and staff. Think about the acrimony and hatred that surround these offices, the inherent and chronic personal complains, false and unjust accusations against the staff and security personnel, influence peddling, the bribery and corruption practices the enterprise creates in the process. Unfortunately, in Somalia the positions of the President, Prime Minister, and Chief of Staff, Protocol or Public Relations Officers are the worst jobs in the world for any decent person has to seek and accept.
I could recall bitter experiences during my tenure as the Chief of Staff and I have the scars to show. Although I paid high prices at personal level, there is no doubt and nobody can deny that I had the greatest impact and made enormous difference in confronting this dilapidating Somali political culture in Puntland State of Somalia as the constituency finally accepted my approach to government operations and decision-making process.
Under these crushing, cruel and painful working conditions, one cannot expect like other normal countries to produce a good Head of State or Government. That way Somalis turn their leaders into authoritarian devils overnight by bestowing them the powers of the final say on everything. That way they disable the functions of other public institutions of government while at the same they whine about bad governance and dictatorship. They must learn the hard reality that they cannot have both ways. The powers of the any public servant including the President, Prime Minister and other officers must be respected, not worshipped. Instead, they must be constantly challenged. Leaders must be compelled to fight for popular support, not the other way round. Only that way people of Somalia can help themselves prevent dictatorship and have the opportunity to choose better leaders and maintain good governance. Do not create unaccountable, monstrous authoritarian leaders, please! That is one of the best ways you can really and positively contribute to a better Somalia.
In another related story, once upon a time people elected a man to be their leader for a fixed term in office. At the end of the term, the man wanted re-election to another term. People told him that he had not done well to deserve re-election. He told them, “how come!? I have been doing successfully what you had elected me for-meeting with you all my time”.
Other related articles:
The Way Forward for Somalia
Public Trust Deficit in Somalia
Federalism, a Guarantor of Peace among Somali Clans
Hope and Lessons in Somalia
Outside View: Building a Secure Somalia
TFG Top Priorities as Expressed by the President
Somalia, Foreign and International Conspiracy
To answer your questions, inquiries on personal background are relevant because in the Somalia of today, and as a result of the most vicious civil war in its history, objectivity in political analysis become an issue. Emotions usually play out into Somali authors’ essays and descriptions of events in the country. Although Somalis are patriarchal in their lineages, my mother is the Northerner while father is from Central Somalia regions. I was born in Northern Somalia and raised in Mudugh Region ( Galkayo) of Central Somalia and Banadir Region (Mogadishu) of Southern Somalia. I finished formal education (High School) in Mogadishu. I went overseas for higher learning and trained as Mechanical Engineer with Masters Degree in thermal power engineering. Since then, I have been acquiring other skills as well, including public administration and politics.
Since I was raised mostly in Mogadishu, I am deeply connected to Southern Somalia too. My political constituency is PuntlandState of Somalia in the North Eastern Somalia though. I therefore consider myself as someone having broad multi-clan background. I am not sure whether that makes sense to you.
I travel a lot in Europe, North America and East Africa and therefore I cannot say I am stationed in one place. My e-mail address, email@example.com, however is permanent if someone wants to reach out to me. Right now I am in Toronto, Canada.
With regards to your question on whether Somalia can become a Federal state, I attach my relevant views on the subject expressed in these articles found both in http://Wardheernews.com and http://imailwarsame.com
The Way Forward for Somalia
The Current Status, Goals and Vision of the Transitional Federal Government
Public Trust Deficit in Somalia
Federalism, a Guarantor of Peace among Somali Clans
Self-Governance Options for Somaliland
Hope and Lessons in Somalia
Outside View: Building a Secure Somalia
TFG Top Priorities as Expressed by the President
Somalia, Foreign and International Conspiracy
AYA Response to Riyale’s Provocations
AYA Memo Escalating Conflict in Somalia’s Northern Regions
Letter to Prime Minister Berlusconi
Other articles of interests are
In addition, there is a Provisional Federal Constitution to be adhered to by Somalia’s leadership as well as the basis for governance for new Somalia. Respecting that Constitution by all is the basis for restoring trust among people of Somalia.
I am not so sure if I understood well your question regarding the role of religion in Somalia. However, I must say that there are two permanent factors in the country.
2. Islam (in the form of Somali traditional Sunni sect).
Islamic religion in Somalia is now experiencing deep crisis as the new adherents of Saudi Wahabism make their presence felt and forcefully imposed upon the population, hence extremism and radicalism resulted in the creation of Al-Shabab, Al-Itihad, Al-Takfir, Al-Islah among others of fundamentalist Islam. Wahabism now is a political and religious force to be reckoned with. You may be aware that Saudi Arabia has been extending religious scholarships to a huge number of Somali youths for decades. When these graduates came back to Somalia, the resulting effect is devastating for the stability of the country and religious harmony. That is the main source of the current religious intolerance never recorded in the history of religion in Somalia.
I hope this will give you a brief introduction to the “state of the union” in Somalia.
It is a pleasure to contact you and I appreciate your qick answer.
I found your blog through a Somali news site, named Wardheer News. An article signed by you and look up in the web who you are, and I found your blog. That`s all. It has been my first contact with the blog but it will not be, for sure, the last one.
I guess you are living in America (US or Canada), Aren’t you? Sorry for asking some personal questions. Are you a national Somali?, if so where are you or your family coming from in Somalia?, and, finally, which is your family clan?
My tow first (non personal) questions is basics and difficult. It is about the future of Somalia.
– Will Somalia be a real Federal state?
– Is Islam more than the nationalistic idea what is going to unify Somalia?
I have watched out about this three aspects of (name of the city omitted for privacy reasons). I am leaving the country before Summer what is a wise decission I took…
Thnaks in advance. Best regards.
Fernandez (name of the sender modified for privacy protection)
Nowadays and for while during the past two decades, Somali thinkers, writers and politicians were keenly debating on best way forward for Somalia’s governance and political arrangements Post-Civil War. This debate is extremely crucial for the survival of Somalia as a country as well as a strong cohesive nation-state.
- What is the main reason that has brought us here to debate on Somalia’s governance options?
- How would you restore trust of the people nation-wide in a central authority when people of Somalia have not yet officially and technically ended the Civil War in the absence of comprehensive national reconciliation given what happened?
Former President Siyad Barre of Somalia (courtsey of Google, indepthAfrica)
As a keen observer of politicians, and specially those who leave behind positive and lasting legacy, I found out that their secret lies in working harder for their vision during their first and /or second term (s) and when that is done, they consistently choose to retire early even if their respective constitutions allow them for a re-run.
Most politicians/leaders who opted to stay in power too long would definitely end up in total failure and popular condemnation as shown in history consistently time again and again.
History also shows that those who do good work and retire early in their younger ages, have the potential to return to leadership with the accompanying value-added political skills and maturity.
Former President Aden Abdulle Osman of Somalia(courtsey of Google)
In the case of political leadership in developing countries, the immediate families can be both the main source of their failures and successes and in most cases, it is the family that brings a leader’s downfall and disgrace.
Former President Jerry Rawllings of Ghana (courtsey of Ghana Web)
The sooner a politician with a favourable rating leaves office, the better and positive legacy he or she leaves behind.
Former President Siyad Barre of Somalia (courtsey of Google)
Former Leader of Libyan Jamahiriya (courtsey of Google)
The idea behind the creation of Puntland State of Somalia was of two-fold:
To bring stability, peace, harmony, organisation and good governance to the inhabitants of Northeastern Somalia, restoring, creating and delivering vital public services to the entire communities in multiple regions of the new state.
To act and lead the way to the reinstatement and re-construction of Somalia as one of its top priorities.
It was a creation fully supported by grass-root movement that evolved many years during the Civil War and finally boiled down to the establishment of the state as a series of Somalia’s peace and reconciliation conferences abysmally failed to restore Somalia’s central government, and emphatically couldn’t be realised it from top down,thus Puntland’s coining of the “building block” concept.
It was based on unique approach to governance: the foundation of state based on traditional values, its historical zonal self-government experience, married with modern system of administration, and most importantly, discontinuation of colonial legacy with regards to governance as the support of the traditional leadership took centre stage as a critical mechanism for conflict resolution and sound consultation.
As a starting framework for its leadership legitimacy, an indirect democratic selection of legislative members was mandated by its constituency membership through deliberate and exhaustive criteria enshrined in a well prepared charter by any reputable international standards.
here were a number of political and constitutional crisis in the short history of Puntland existence as a state. Each time Puntland State survived mainly because of its strong founding principles and historically binding evolution of people’s aspirations and wishes against the whims of its leadership of the day.
However, Puntland State has been always lacking behind in its further democratisation process, unable after more than a decade, to move forward in implementing the general election of “one man, one vote”. That is why one sees leadership crisis towards the end of each leader’s term in office.
In exactly the same fashion, one witnesses now self-made political tension that may lead to instability and threaten to law and order. It is the same story playing out again. It is therefore self-evident that there is something seriously wrong in Puntland State governance. That has to be fixed quickly and wisely in the best interest of the people and for public good. Put aside leadership ambitions and personal interests because such inclination will serve no one in the end and endanger Puntland State peace, stability and unity. Don’t play with fire to score political points. Always keep in mind that Puntland state is the outcome of many sacrifices and irreplaceable human and economic resources.
For the opposition, the disputed one year extension of the President’s term in office should not be the focus because the stakes are much higher here. Instead, they should be concentrating the democratisation process, while the current leadership provides an atmosphere conducive to dialogue between all stake-holders and parties, and embark upon consensus building. I may remind all of the fact that civil strife takes place when parties fail to talk to each other- in other words, in the absence of dialogue. As long as there is a debate on all issues of mutual concern,there is unlikely that conflagration could occur.
Finally, Puntland State history showed that when there is a political crisis, there are always external actors ready to step in to further destabilise the state. We should be very careful here not to give devils and dark forces in-waiting any chance.
In conclusion, I wish you all a Happy 2013.
Ismail H. Warsame
Formerly Chief of Staff, Puntland State Presidency.