Somalia suffers from Machiavellian politics
By Mohamud M Uluso
In the week of celebration, June 26 -July 2, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of Somalia delivered three speeches and an interview with Ventures Africa, in which he talked about the accomplishments of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) under his leadership. He announced the near completion of Vision 2016 tasks, specifically the completion of the formation of regional states and the nomination of the technical electoral commission that will fix the surreal 2016 political election for an imaginary Somalia. He hailed the security improvement in many parts of the country and the introduction of tamper-proof financial management system adopted by the financial institutions.
In the interview with Venture Africa, President Hassan said that “Somalia is making a comeback,” and for the first time he has confirmed the establishment of Forum for National Leaders (FNL)that comprises the Presidents of Regional Administrations chaired by him. The Forum discusses the national issues invested in the Council of Ministers and federal parliament. In the meantime, Jubbaland and Puntland Administrations suspended their relation of exchange visits with the Federal Government.
On June 9, 2015, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Somalia, Ambassador Nicholas Kay and the Special Representative of AU Chairperson, Ambassador Maman Sambo Sidiku spoke at an event on Somalia organized by the International Peace Institute in New York. Ambassador Kay compared Somalia with a house under construction. He said that the regional administrations are the foundation while the review of the provisional constitution is the walls. The federal government is the roof. Since the foundation (the Regional States) is contested, incomplete and the walls (the review constitution) will be completed after 2016, Ambassador Kay has rightly described the roof (the federal government) as temporary structure until 2020. He added that “nobody expected it to be quick or easy to build that Somali House.” Unfortunately, the Ambassador did not tell his audience that the Somali house didn’t have a construction plan that shows its dimensions, pillars, and other technical specifications. Thus, the house will not be safe for habitation.
In different light, persistent leaks alert that about 139 members of the federal parliament are planning to impeach President Hassan for abuse of power, breach of the constitution, and failure to defend the sovereignty, unity, and interests of the Somali people. During a surprise visit to the parliament, President Hassan did not address directly the leaks but implored the members of parliament to work with him for moving the country forward.
The Federal Parliament grilled the Minister of Finance on budget maladministration and the lack of salary payments to the security forces and civil servants for months despite increased collection of domestic revenue. Members of parliament claim that the Minister did not provide explanation about the use of 22 million dollars considered as unaccounted. The media, replete with claims of widespread financial embezzlements, published official government letters showing the diversion of $ 1,476,900allocated to the payments of arrears due to former members of parliament. The Minister refused to tell the purpose used for that amount and to disclose the foreign and domestic travel expenses of top government leaders.
The Federal Parliament also called the Foreign Minister Dr. Abdisalam Hadliye Omer to question him about recent revelation by the Foreign Affairs Secretary of Kenya, Amina Mohamed concerning agreement between Somalia and Kenya for out of court settlement of the maritime boundary dispute Somalia filed with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in Hague. The Somali Government denied Kenya claim. But, In consideration of the ill-timed proclamation letter of President Hassan dated June 30, 2014 on the limits of the Somali territorial Sea (Exclusive Economic Zone) to UN Commission on the Law of the Sea (UNCLS), the revelation has provoked strong public anger for suspected mishandling of the case. Close to 1,000 Somali activists signed a petition for the defense of Somali Territorial Sea as per Law 37 of 1972. The ICJ will start hearing the case on July 13, 2015.
Another scary development is the retreat of AMISOM and Somali National Forces from many areas in the Lawer Shabelle region after Al Shabab attacked ferociously Burundi forces at Leego base and killed between 50 and 70 soldiers. The local population is dumbfounded by the explanation of the government and African Union that the retreat was a military strategy. Many had to flee the vacated area for fear from Al Shabab.
About the economic situation, IMF Staff Mission visited Nairobi, Kenya to carry out 2015 Article IV Consultation with the Somali officials responsible for the economy and finance. The preliminary statement of the mission notes that the Somali economy will deteriorate in 2015. The growth rate will fall from 3.7 % in 2014 to 2.7 % in 2015 while the inflation rate will increase from 1.3 % in 2014 to 4 % in 2015. For the lack of commitment to budget control, the IMF Staff recommended the improvement of budget preparation and execution, arrears control, treasury management, and accounting and reporting procedures and stressed the delay of currency reform (currency printing) until necessary conditions are in place. As the constitution and the Somali Compact have called for, the IMF Staff advised the federal government to undertake good governance reform – creation of sound, transparent, and accountable institutions- to restore domestic and international confidence in government.
The latest edition of the influential Foreign Affairs Magazine published by the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington D. C. printed an article on Somalia under the title, “Saving Somalia (Again) – How Reconstruction Stalled; and What to do about it.” The article recapped the chronic problems sliding Somalia into abyss. The author of the article, Vanda Felbab-Brown, scholar of Brookings institution, informs that “to give itself legitimacy, the government has embraced a brand of conservative Islam that is not as far from Al Shabab’s teachings as many would like.” She adds that in the face of low public support and legitimacy, the federal government engaged in clan exclusionary politics. Consequently, clan marginalization and poor governance have pushed Somalis to side with Al Shabab. Unsurprisingly, the author finds that Ethiopia and Kenya undermine the stability of Somalia by using corrupt Somali powerbrokers (entrepreneurs) for their interests. She sadly disclosed the reluctance of donors to provide funds for the establishment of strong Somali security forces because donors became aware that Somali politicians pocket large percentage of the aid. In the final analysis, the article makes crystal clear that the future of Somalia depends on the Somali people.
On July 1, Members of Somali Diaspora who formed the association Gurmad (rescue) in the United States have published a position paper condemning the institutionalized corruption, malfeasance, and plunder of Somali Resources. The paper states that currently “corruption is being neither prevented nor combated, but rather encouraged and even accelerated by the looming 2016 election…“ The persistence of this malady echoed by others jeopardizes the prospect of Somali recovery and survival.
The above perceptions or convictions gave way to public disappointment and detachment and practically hindered the international support. Somalia suffers from the Machiavellian politics defined as “the employment of cunning and duplicity in statecraft” and as “a dark triad personality, characterized by (1) duplicitous interpersonal style, (2) a cynical disregard for morality, and (3) focus on self-interest and personal gain.”
Mohamud M Uluso