International Community BacksFraudulent2016 Electoral Process in Somalia

The calculated scheme of the leaders of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) elected in 2012 to disregard the fulfilment of the constitutionally mandatedarrangements for a transparent, free, and fair national election in 2016 has paid off as theybecomeempowered by the International Community (IC) to device fraudulent, undemocratic electoral process that suits their rapacious ambitions for staying in power (reelection). The formation of unaccountable federal member states (FMS) and the creation of theSomali National Leadership Forum(NLF) composed of 8 leaders – 4 leaders of the FGS (the president, Speaker, Prime Minister, and Deputy Prime Minister), and 4 presidents of FMS (Puntland, Galmudug, Jubbaland, and Southwest) in violation ofthe provisional constitution havefacilitated the gaming of democratic political electionsupposed to allow the Somali citizens to toss out rulers who governed badly.

On the basis of Garowe Agreement on 2016 electoral model and process, signed between the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) and the Government of Puntland State on April 3, andon the recommendations of aHigh Level Consultation meeting in Nairobi, Kenya on April 6-7, membersof the NLF held a meeting in Mogadishu for the adoption of comprehensive electoral implementation plan. The Communiqué of the meeting restated the main points made in Garowe Agreement and Nairobi consultation. However, the flaws of the electoral implementation plan are described below.

NLF

The NLF has no constitutional legitimacy to legislate or regulate political elections in Somalia;but the Garowe Agreementsays that, “The International Community recognizes the central role of the National Leadership Forum in ensuring that the national interest is protected and promoted, and the role of parliament in underpinning the rule of law and protecting the Constitution.” The interpretation of the quoted statement is not clear, but it could be construed as saying that the decisions of the NLF are not subject to parliamentary review or they could not be protested by the public. Most significantly, the implementation of Garowe Agreementis guaranteed by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), specifically Ethiopia. Thus, Garowe Agreement is subject to international relation and law. I hope Somali experts on international law will express legal opinion on the agreements between the federal government and regional states guaranteed by foreign governments or organizations.

The NLF members who are either incumbents seeking reelection or sponsoring their alliestook control of the political oversight of 2016 election and misappropriated the powers (1) to appoint all members of federal and regional electoral committees, (2) to restrict public participation in the election, and (3) to validate the legitimacy of elected candidates. The federal and regional electoral committees will work under the direction and supervision of NLF. This is not a democratic political election. The Flaws of 2016 Electoral Implementation Plan

Selection of the Electorate: The implementation plan indicates that 135 traditional leaders registered in 2012 will select 50 electorate for each parliamentary seat in consultation with sub clan traditional leaders. In anticipation of this decision, the federal government has instigated leadership disputes within some clans in order to replace the traditional leaders seen as not reliable allies of the government against the interests of their clans. Therefore, the federal government should not be allowed to handle any disputeover traditional leaders. Clan constituencieshave the primary responsibility for standing behind their genuine traditional leaders.

Political Exclusion: Benadir region is excluded from the NLF and the Upper House of the federal parliament representing federal member states. Similarly, the political participation of the population living in Benadir is up in the air. No explanation has been provided for this outrageous political exclusion.

Scandals and Meltdown of Hiran and Middle Shabelle State Formation Process. No representative of Hiran and Middle Shabelle regions is member of NLF. As a result of the federal government’s game plan to install its loyalists in power in Hiran and Middle Shabelle State, the process of state formation is mired by scandals and abuses that led to paralysis and acrimonious political confrontation. The international community is fully aware of the scandals and reasons behind the meltdown but decided to close eyes and push for the declaration and celebration of federal member state at any cost.

Creation of Upper House of the federal Parliament: The Federal Parliament has suspended in 2012 all articles of the provisional constitution related to the Upper House of the Federal Parliament. The NLF restored the Upper House without parliamentaryaction. The responsibilities and powers of the Upper House vis-à-vis the house of the people are yet to be outlined.

Farce 2016 Electoral Process:Lethal injection intoSomalia’s Statehood

According to the “Population Estimation Survey 2014for the 18 pre-war regions of Somalia,” carried out by the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA), the population of Somalia is estimated about 12,316,895 million divided into urbans (5,216,392), rural (2,806,757), nomads (3,186,965), and Internally displaced people-IDP- (1,106,751), living in 18 regions under different polities. The purpose of the population estimation has been to develop political, economic, social, and security policies that improve the lives of the entire population. Therefore, bringing these different groups under the rule of a central democratic government is paramount.

Thedelay in the emergence ofcentrally ruling entity jeopardizes peace and stability in Somalia. Thus, lawful, credible free, fair, and transparent “selection and election process” which promotesa national political change in August 2016 is the stepping stone for democratic central government. The repeat of the farce 2012 selection/election process or another worse process willbe a lethal injection into Somalia’s statehood and nationhood. The international community dominates the political and security process in Somalia and bears the primary responsibility forthe occurrence of such unfortunate fatal fate.The UN Security Council remains actively seized of the matter of Somalia.

The no extension declaration for the term of office for the president and members of parliament of the federal government reiterated in the UN Security Council Resolution S/Res/2275 (2016) of 24th March 2016will remainmeaningless and deceptive ifit is not responded with a legitimate democratic plan of selection/election process that withstandsthe test of the guiding principlesfor competitive, free, and fair selection/election process. It is self-evident that the time has run out for orderly, legitimate, competitive, free, and fair election before August 2016.

Foreign patrons, political scandals, corruption, and abuse of state power have deepened the conviction that Somalia is for unscrupulous characters and thieves. The UN Security Council received openly or confidentially many reports about “cash for votes” perpetratedby the federal government. The sharing of the confidential reports with the Somali people is overdue.

By welcoming the electoral model for the selection process of 275 members of the people’s House and the distribution of 54 seats of the Upper House of the federal parliament to federal member states without legal act and agreed upon detailed plan of implementation, the International Communityhas denied preemptively the Somali people, particularly 1,650,277 people residing in Benadir region, the legitimacy and opportunity to exercise their political rights as citizens. The ongoing political process has ignited inflammatory, divisive, and dangerous discourse within the Somali society.

Furthermore, the new agreement between Puntland and the federal government signed today in Garowe will intensify the controversy and complicate the Somali political system.The agreement establishes essential rules of 2016 election. On the other hand, by accepting the 4.5 electoral model without putting the agreement to referendum in Puntland, the president of Puntland will face barrages of criticism from different corners. The change of position indicates the discretionary political power of the Somali leaders at all levels.

Recently, Anthony Banbury, former Assistant Secretary General for Field Support published an opinion article titled–I the Love the U.N., but it is failing -in the New York Times and other major international newspapers. He criticizes the role of UN in Somalia and other countries. The predominant roles of IGAD, AU, UN, EU, and specific influential international actors in Somalia are major contributors to the Somali problems and failures.

Despite years of concerted efforts including deployment of more than 25 thousand foreign forces in Somalia and billions of dollars spent, few months ago, the US and EU governments ranked Somalia with Libya and Yemen as high risk country to the international peace and security. The US State Department issued warning against travelling to or coming from Somalia. Members of the Somali-American and Somali-European Diaspora encouraged to go back to Somalia to help its recovery are now treated as high risk returnees at the international airports of their adopted countries. This is a serious dilemma which undermines all claims of progress and hopeful future made in the last four years. The solution is to have a democratic credible state that has international state attributesand can fulfill state functions.

The flaws and arbitrary decisions of 2012 transition process are continuing to shackle the peacebuilding and statebuilding process in Somalia. In its 2012 report titled, Somalia: from troubled transition to Tarnished Transition?, the International Crisis Group (ICG) suggested the formation of a caretaker government that would ensure continuity of government. After 4 years, Somalia faces the same predicament of political transition and deepening crisis that requires caretaker government.

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

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.”

Somalia: Questionable Jurisdiction over 2016 Election

After close observation of the dismantled federal government into Interim Regional Administrations and federal member states of Puntland and Somaliland- all celebrating their “constitutions, borders, flags, citizens, presidents, parliaments, council of ministers, security forces, Independent Electoral Commissions, fiscal budgets, banks, TVs, commemoration days, airports, ports, diplomatic relations, natural resources, and clan identity,” one can’t resist raising the following questions:

Who represents and defends the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Somali people? Are articles 1 (the Federal Republic of Somalia), 7 (the Territory of the Federal Republic of Somalia), and 8 (the People and the Citizenship of the Federal Republic of Somalia), still valid and operational? Is it prudent to allow dismantled federal government to continue to exercise power? Can dismantled Federal Government manage free and fair election in 2016? In consideration of Somali clan culture and civil war legacy, how long will different constitutions, security forces, fiscal budgets, diplomatic relations, and judicial systems take to reconcile and integrate them? If international funds dwindle or shift, will the conferences on federal cooperation between federal and regional governments continue and produce durable results? Will the Somali economy afford to foot the payroll and maintenance bill of the disproportionately bloated federal and regional governments?

These questions shed light on the governance crisis overwhelming Somalia. The cancellation of free and fair one person one vote election planned to take place in August 2016 has been a blow to the political stability and confidence in the leadership of the federal government of Somalia. The lack of democratic process for challenging the unlawful and unfair decisions of the federal government institutions is inflaming public frustration and complaints.

The leaders of the federal government are aware of the public complaints but they cherish the vanity of conducting government businesses without democratic process and legal instruments. They tell the people to trust them instead of gaining public trust by obeying the rule of law, government ethics, and by delivering public services. Disregard of the supremacy of the rule of law is recipe for failure.

The emergency measure to form Somalia National Consultative Forum for the selection of 2016 electoral model has dented the legitimacy of the executive and parliament of the federal government. In converse, the legitimacy of the Forum has been assailed by many political commentators as an unlawful institution. Furthermore, the working of the forum has shown that there is no leader responsible to lead, provide analyzed options for review and final decision, and ensure legitimate decision making process.

This means that the jurisdiction over 2016 election is in question, which increases the likelihood of election mismanagement and rigged outcomes.

As sign of indifference, the recommendations of the community from Somaliland regions, in line with the talks between the federal government and Somaliland, have not been acknowledged and addressed. This reinforces the view that the consultation process was public relation exercise and not binding.

The participants of the regional consultative forums did not discuss an electoral model for the Upper House of the Federal Parliament. Article 55 of the provisional constitution gives the residents in the federal member states the right to elect directly, secretly and freely the 54 members of the Upper House determined on the basis of 18 regions multiplied by 3 representatives. Article 72 requires that all federal member states have equal number of representatives and the 4.5 clan formula representation must be maintained in the Upper House. Compliance with this requirement needs further investigation.

However, Article 138 (2) of the provisional constitution postponed the effects of all articles of the provisional constitution related to the Upper House until such time when all federal member states are established, legalized, and able to conduct election. Until such time, all duties and functions of the Upper House are invested in the People’s House.

Article 64 of the provisional constitution prescribes the election of the 275 members of the people’s house through direct, secret, and free ballot by all citizens. The members of the people’s house must represent all communities in balanced manner. The constitution focuses on clan balance rather than on political constituency.

The debate over the district and 4.5 electoral models has boosted the opportunity to use the population estimation released by the Federal Government and UN Population Fund for the allocation of the 275 members of the people’s house. Political constituency will require population census so that each of the 275 members of the federal parliament will represent a certain number of the population.

Somalia: Unwarranted Political Hardball Against ASWJ

Thursday, January 7, 2016, parliamentary delegation led by the Speaker of the federal parliament, Professor Mohamed Sheikh Osman Jawari visited Dhusamareb, capital of Galgudud region, the constitutional headquarter of the Interim Galmudug Administration (IGA)formed in Adado city in July 2015. The purpose of the visit has been described as an endeavor to explore the premises for the resumption of a long overdue dialogue between the federal government of Somalia (FGS)-cum-IGA and Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama (ASWJ), stalled days before the election of IGA parliamentary Speaker in June 2015. ASWJ remit falls under the sphere of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

Supporters of regional state in the central regions voiced repeatedly the need of direct engagement between the FGS and ASWJ for political inclusivity and confidence building which is fundamental for shared governance. It is worth recalling that political inclusivity is one of the milestones of peace building and state building goals of the New Deal signed by the FGS with the International Community at Brussels, Belgium in September 2013.

Leaders of ASWJ continue to maintain the position of being ready to enter into dialogue with the FGS-cum-IGA for successful and lasting integration and cohesion. The FGS is the national authority expected to guarantee the implementation of any political settlement concluded after honest and fair discussion.

To the surprise of many observers, IGA and federal political figures denounced the visit of Speaker Jawari to Dhusamareb. Without excluding the possibility of ulterior political motives underpinning the visit, the angry denunciation of the Speaker shows poor judgment, level of disrespect and distrust among political leaders, and the overall dysfunction of the federal government.

In duplicity, the FGS and IGA sought the mediation of IGAD officials (Kenya and Ethiopia) before any attempt of direct engagement with ASWJ or exploration of other alternatives. Paradoxically, last November, ASWJ and IGA delegations visited Ethiopia on the basis of separate official invitations of the Government of Ethiopia and FGS did not protest. These dynamics are important developments that deserve parliamentary attention and scrutiny for public interest.

Within the framework of the Constitution and political system of Somalia, the Speaker of the Parliament has major role in dealing with the political problems existing between FGS-cum-IGA and ASWJ. The Federal Parliament has the responsibility of conducting public hearings on all issues that vex the Somali people, including ASWJ case. The involvement of the Speaker partakes the efforts for the inclusion of ASWJ in the federation and democratization process envisaged in Vision 2016.

However, it seems that the policy of President Hassan’s team is to prolong the paralysis of IGA and ASWJ and to confine the utility of IGA in national political alliances for power play. This harmful political strategy is to undermine the hope of the local population for development as well as for independent and effective interactions with other federal member states and FGS. It is believed that President Hassan is the principle enforcer of unwarranted political hardball against ASWJ. Indeed, ASWJ is removed from the concern and consideration of FGS decision makers.

ASWJ emerged in 2008 and gained international recognition and confidence in the fight against Al Shabab. The international community supported the inclusion of ASWJ in the Transitional Federal Government of President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Prime Minister Omar Abdidrashid through an agreement signed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on March 15, 2010.The UN Security Council endorsed the agreement. In difference to other local entities, ASWJ claims to possess religious, clan diversity, and organizational characteristics.

The FGS of President Hassan Sheikh rejected ASWJ as a valuable partner and removed ASWJ loyalists from the federal and local government positions. This has embittered ASWJ followers. In 2013, FGS signed an agreement with ASWJ for recognition and integration. But, informed sources confide that President Hassan shelved the implementation of the agreement.

The Hardball play with ASWJ fits a pattern of contentious relation between FGS and Dhusamareb Community. There are several cases that demonstrate grievances and falling out like the clash over the venue and capital of IGA, the fighting between federal government and ASWJ forces in Guri El, believed to be instigated by the federal government, the lack of implementation of the ceasefire agreement signed on March 5, 2015, and other government mistreatments. As of today, the killed, wounded, and displaced civilians as a result of wrong government policy are not helped and compensated.