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Somalia: The Graveyard of the“New Deal” for Statebuilding

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Somalia has become the graveyard of the internationally acclaimed “New Deal” under the “Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation” for the “Engagement in Fragile and Conflict-affected states,” due to leadershipfailure. The sad fate of the internationally hailed initiative for peacebuilding and statebuilding has undone years of global research, debate, and dialogue on aid effectiveness, state failures, civil wars, humanitarian crisis, human rights abuses, and abject poverty.

The 15 core principles of the New Deal includes“country-owned and country-led” one vision one plan implemented through a Compact of partnership between the national government and the civil society of the country, andthe international donors. The one vision one plan principle focuses on political legitimacy, justice, security, public finance and services, and economic foundations for employment and improved livelihood.Without doubt, the implementation of such strategy is complex and challenging but it is more preferable for fragile states in comparison to previous strategies. Effective Leadership,political will, moral responsibility, discipline, good diplomatic qualities, respect of the rule of law, and democratic participatory process areneeded for compliance and success.

The Federal Government of Somalia (FGS)as one of the prototype of failed states signed three year “Somali Compact” with International donors during the 1st High Level Partnership Forum (HLPF) conference in Brussels, Belgium in September 2013.The international partners pledged 2.8 billion dollars subject to the provisions of the Somali Compact. However, in retrospect, it seems that the leaders of FGS never liked or embraced the New Deal Agreement because they have never shown proactive leadership and practical actionsfocused on the New Deal. Authoritarianism and corruption topped the Somali politics.

The 2nd Ministerial HLPF Conference held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in November 2014 was eclipsed by President Hassan’s tussle with former Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed. Many partners decided either to stay away or send low level delegations to the conference for protest. This has ruined the prospect of goodwill cooperation between the international partners and the FGS. But in pursue of their overarching global interests and strategy, international donors continued to work with FGS on selective issues at the expense of Somali national interests.

In my article on the assessment of 2014 Copenhagen conference I wrote, “The attitude of the leaders of FGS in embracing certain goals [commitments] without undertaking necessary efforts to accomplish them through domestic policy development, democratic and legislation process, will increase the likelihood of failure. The leaders of FGS are committing crime and political malpractice if they enter into international commitments without the will, conviction, and capability to hold up their side of the bargain…” Fatefully, the 3rd Ministerial HLPF hosted by the Turkish Government in Istanbul on 23-24 February 2016 was also overshadowed by the uncertainty and controversy over the electoral model for 2016. Puntland Regional State rejected the 4.5 electoral model adopted against the framework and “Consensus Principle”of the National Consultative Forum (NCF) and stayed away from the Istanbul conference.The 2016 electoral controversy leftthe international partners with no good options. The question mark is how the 2016 electoral model will be different from the corrupt selection and election process of 2012.

The 3rdHLPF was critical for three reasons. The first reason was to take stock of the implementation of the Somali Compact. The FGS presented to the Istanbul conference a progress report not shared with the Somali people, institutions, and the media. The Somali people are skeptical about the purpose and impact of foreign aid.

The second reason was to agree on the 2016 electoral model and the completion of the review of the Provisional Constitution, and to discuss the road map for universal suffrage elections in 2020 for the purpose ofmobilizinginternational political and financial support for those tasks as a measure of major milestones.

This did not happen because the federal government did not present to the conference Somali detailedelectoral plan. The third reason was to agree on the next phase of the New Deal Strategy to address the urgent needs of the local population in terms of security, governance, political reconciliation and unity, humanitarian assistance, and recovery.Surprisingly, the Federal Government declared itswithdrawal from the Somali Compact and preparation of a three year national development plan as an alternative, which is an ill-advised exercise.

The view is that the FGS hopes to use the development plan as shopping document for bilateral foreign assistance. By defying the international consensus on the engagement in fragile states, the FGS will face great difficulties and disadvantages for selling a development plan that conflicts with the principles of the New Deal. The international partners stated, “We look forward to developing the next phase of international engagement in Somalia based on a shared set of principles and a review of the joint partnership.”

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