The high level mobilization of international support under the “New Deal” strategy for statebuilding in Somalia has deeply upset Ethiopia and Kenya, power holders of the regional organization- the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), now metamorphosed into Somalia’s colonial power. The ongoing effort of IGAD’s clan institutionalization in Jubbaland regions is a death knell of the Somali citizenship value. Somalia belongs to Somalis and not to clans. The Provisional Constitution moves Somalia from clan communities to individual citizens.
The Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) is spending considerable time, substantial financial resources and precious political capital on IGAD’s endless conferences organized to undermine its sovereignty and legitimacy. Within this month of May, Kenya and Ethiopia leaders forced the holding of several conferences in order to replace the positive stories on Somalia in the international news headlines with gloomy picture of internal strife and paralysis.
On May 3rd, the 21st Extraordinary Session of IGAD top leaders decided to send mission to Somalia for assessing its instigated Jubbaland crisis by institutionalizing clan-based system of governance. The mission led by Eng. Mahboub Maalim, Executive Secretary of IGAD, a Somali Kenyan, visited Mogadishu and Kismaio May 16-19, 2013. As expected, the mission issued a report which violates the sovereign equality respect of Somalia as a member state and a death nail to the citizenship and loyalty of the Somali people to their country and government. In dealing with the Federal Government of Somalia, IGAD avails itself of the Infamous IGAD declaration on 29 October 2008, which arbitrarily abolished the powers of the Transitional Federal Institutions of Somalia and dethroned late President Abdullahi Yusuf from power without due political and constitutional process.
It is clear from the report that the principal purpose of the mission was not to assess the situation in Kismaio but to present IGAD as the entry point and broker of Somalia. In fact, the report states that all stakeholders- the Federal Government and other actors- warmed up for the role of IGAD. Therefore, the IGAD Secretariat has been mandated to mediate the Federal Government (Mogadishu) and the Kismaio stakeholders. The use of the distinction between Mogadishu and Kismaio groups/parties brands the Federal Government as a faction.
The IGAD’s exercise is to create a complex web of problems for the purpose of making the international diplomatic recognition and legitimacy conferred to the federal government of Somalia of no consequence. Unfortunately this unbridled abuse of IGAD could worsen the security situation in the region. Thus, as early as IGAD’s misguided adventure is corrected, the chance for a stable Somalia would be brighter.
The wording of the report has been so deliberately contorted to create divergent interpretations. This deliberately created hurdle is intended to divert the attention of the Federal Government from the critical task of addressing the completion of international cooperation framework and of the preparation needed for building national consensus on the implementation of the federal system enshrined in the provisional federal constitution.
The report omitted many facts reported by the local media as the expression of the majority of the people met in Mogadishu and Kismaio. The facts include the accusation that IGAD as a spoiler and against the unity of Somalia and the request to give political space to the federal government in handling Somalia’s affairs in cooperation with the new UN Assistance Mission (UNSOM). The report also ignored the Federal Government’s complain about the repeated insolent actions of Kenyan forces stationed in Kismaio in contravention to the United Nations Security Council Resolutions on the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
The report presents the supporters of the Jubbaland process led by Ahmed Madobe, one of five presidents of Jubbaland State, as the majority stakeholders. In contrast, the opponents of the Jubbaland process are described as a minority. This boosts the argument that an inclusion of members of the minority in the administration of Ahmed Madobe would amend the contested exclusion. The report sidesteps the supreme political authority of the constitutional interpretation of the Federal Government over the Jubbaland stakeholders’ interpretation with regard to the Jubbaland State formation process and therefore the mission deemed unwarranted to side with the federal government.
The report forces ad hock law on federalism before the federal government explores the policy options with regard to the overall political situation of the country including the unpredictable outcome of the ongoing discussion between Somaliland and the Federal Government or the security situation of many regions under the control of Al Shabab. That inopportune pressure could cause more harm than help. It also preempts the deliberative policy formulation required by the good governance.
Prematurely, the report commands the federal government to convene a reconciliation conference under the supervision/facilitation of IGAD and prior consultation with “predetermined” key stakeholders in Kismaio. At the same time the report calls the stakeholders in Kismaio to go to Mogadishu for dialogue with the federal government. In the final analysis, the self evident end result of both actions is to breed continuous squabble image and to leave stand the outcome of Jubbaland process which has been declared unconstitutional by the Federal Government.
The mission failed to seriously consider the ramifications of the sovereign government’s unconstitutional declaration followed by the rejection of the outcome. Practically, the government’s position rules out immediate acquiescence of the unilateral foreign-driven divisive process and its results. At this juncture, the annulment of the outcome of Kismaio and the continuation of the fight against Al Shabab should precede the installation of an interim regional authority in the liberated areas.
Obviously, the integration of the Somali forces in the area would be part of the overall implementation of the security and stabilization plan in cooperation with the international donors. Any action on the integration of the Somali forces prior to a national action plan approved by the Federal parliament will be politically disastrous.
The report cites the existence of explanations for why the federal government could not lead the process and it exonerates the Jubbaland stakeholders from wrong doing. It’s worth noting that one of the explanations is provided in an interview the spokesperson of the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Getechaw Reda gave to the Voice of America on Wednesday May 22, 2013, ( http://www.voasomali.com/
Furthermore, the spokesperson made a revealing statement by saying that Ethiopia and Kenya have full legitimacy to manage Somalia because their forces (citizens) are dying in it. This means that the intervention of Ethiopia and Kenya in Somalia was not for the defeat of Al Shabab and empowerment of a sovereign Somali government but for the control of Somalia as colonial powers.
The claim in the report that IGAD facilitation has been absent since February is misleading and far from the truth. IGAD has been actively pushing the continuation and conclusion of the process and Kenya immediately recognized the election of Ahmed Madobe as president of Jubbaland state. To deepen the fragmentation and tension among Somalis, IGAD would propagate threats against Jubbaland or other land supporters.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud participated the 22nd Extra-Ordinary session of IGAD Assembly held in Addis Ababa on May 24th , 2013, and delivered a statement in which he strongly defended the sovereign equality of Somalia as well as the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal government to manage the Somali affairs. He expressed appreciation and gratitude towards Ethiopia and Kenya for their military support in fighting against Al Shabab. President Hassan underlined that the federal government is mandated to represent the interest of all Somali people. However, more choke chains were the response to the balanced words of the President. In fact, IGAD leaders adopted the conflict-ridden report on Jubbaland with additional burdens, while surprisingly they did not even take note of President Hassan Sheikh’s specific request to the international community including IGAD members states to not be neutral to Somali parties when it comes to politics and to stop giving wrong signals to some groups or regions in Somalia for the sake of national harmony and unity and against further fragmentation along clan lines.
In the face of IGAD’s campaign against the peacebuilding and statebuiling in Somalia, the federal government –president, parliament and cabinet- must weigh in its strategic options. It should not be deluded by “a Conditional or subordinate leadership role” and must act quickly, decidedly and strategically in consultation with the Somali people and the international key actors, including African countries committed to help Somalia exit from the “failed state” condition. For the welfare of the Somali refugees, the federal government should not endorse or join the proposed refugees’ repatriation conference pursued by Kenya and Ethiopia before reliable security and stability returns to Somalia and the domestic humanitarian situation improves.
Mohamud M Uluso