The most pressing and most important issues that the upcoming Somali Federal Government has to deal with effectively are: The security, The pacification of Jubbaland and Hiiraan, Effective and sincere reconciliation across the country, The engagement of Puntland and Somaliland constructively, and the Rebuilding and rehabilitating the economy across the country. If the Somali Federal Government addresses these issues, the chance of success is very high but if they fail to do so the current status quo will remain the same.
The restoration of peace and stability is paramount where the rule of law is respected and followed. Somalia has been a victim of injustice and a policy designed and shaped to safeguard the interest of specific groups. Therefore, while you need to enforce the law, you have to be just and free from favouritism, nepotism and group interest. Al Shabab and pirates are the two main impediments to peace in Somalia.
It is believed that many members of Al-shabab are either influenced by grudge against others, indoctrination or economic incentives; therefore it is important to adopt a plan to engage, persuade, retrain and help them to re-join the mainstream. What to do with the pirates? The pirates are the products of illegal fishing by foreign trawlers along Somali coast, unemployment, poverty, and the world’s reluctance to follow the right approach to end this practise. All these piracy related issues are to be addressed effectively by all relevant stakeholders (Somali governments and the international community) to end all forms of illegality. Furthermore, the government has to put in place a judicial system that encourage the people to become law abiding citizens by using both stick and carrot formula.
The pacification of the Jubbaland and Hiiraan
Jubbaland and Hiiraan were the most hotly contested regions during the civil war. Warlords bitterly fought over the control of the main cities of these regions – Kismayo and Beletweyn. The contest of the warlords, and later Al-shabab’s takeover, have resulted death, destruction and displacement of the local inhabitants. To ascertain that there is no fall-back and instability in these regions (future States), all parts involve should explore the best possible formula to secure the stability of these territories. Additionally, during Al-shabab’s days, particularly in Kismayo, despite their coercion and draconian rule, they have restored semblance of peace and ended to a large degree the disastrous clan-against-clan fratricide. Moreover, installing strong administration will, on one hand, send the right signal to Al-shabab that there is nowhere to return and, on the other hand, end the presence of foreign forces to help the naysayers to become politically and ideologically bankrupt. All pacification methods should be based on a genuine formula, and no one should be rewarded for the outcomes of the warlordism era. Similarly, the locals should be allowed and assisted to install their own inclusive administration.
Effective and sincere reconciliation
Somalia went through two difficulty period: twenty one years of brutal dictatorship and twenty one years of mindless clan warfare. This difficulty period has destroyed the trust, cohesion and unity among the community. Many people are killed beastly, others are looted and displaced, and many properties have been taken by others or destroyed completely. The physical and psychological scars from these evil activities are still vividly visible. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the current government, in cooperation with local authorities, to explore ways and means to effectively address all these issues and endeavour to bring the brotherly people to reconcile. This should not be taken lightly, if we really want to get Somalia back to its feet.
Engaging Puntland and Somaliland constructively
The political path of Puntland and Somaliland are the products of the problems that I have mentioned above. Now, one became autonomous State, and the other decided to break away from the rest of Somalia. The residents of both of these states were victims of brutal dictatorship and clan warfare respectively. They choose their current systems for the betterment of their people’s life and their children’s future. Now, they are relatively comfortable in their current status. This is a new paradigm in Somalia’s contemporary history and there is no return to the old centralised system, where the power remains in the hands of geographically distant few. This old centralised socialist system helps the centre to prosper and the periphery to impoverish which later becomes the recipe of civil strife.
Therefore, as this political journey is irreversible, the government has to work with the States under the present Federal system. They all have to share the national resources according to the constitution and the roadmap. The Federal government have to work and share with them the international aid ranging from scholarships to developmental projects. Similarly, the Somali government have to start helping the formation of the other States to show that they are not abandoning the roadmap and its contents. In the case of Somaliland, the government has to open a peaceful, sincere and constructive dialogue with them to come back to the union. The Somali Federal government has to understand, that any changes or abandonment of what has been agreed in the roadmap and the constitution will open new and unpredictable political crisis across the country.
To work closely with your neighbours
Somalia has neighbours who are affected by our chaos, instability and civil conflict in an unimaginable ways. They become victims economically and politically. Our citizens, who are chased out by brother-on-brother irrational wars, have encroached their borders and settled their capitals. Refugee camps are opened in the midst of their countries. Their capitals become the hub, where our refugees are airlifted by other nations. Our diaspora and former refugees have opened business in their capitals and play an important role in the economy of their countries. Their policy makers have realised that our instability and lawlessness has negative impact in their political and social status globally and their day to day life locally. Consequently, their men and highly mechanised units are now in our main cities to put off our mindless fires, so they can be safe from our evil, and also keep us apart so we don’t finish each other. The Somali Federal government has to closely work with them sincerely, to secure the restoration of peace in the country and regain its regional and international stand. I am not suggesting that the leaders to become stooges and yes men, but to understand the reality and the intertwined interest of everyone.
Rebuilding the economy by engaging the business community
The Somali Federal Government has to create an effective economic plan to rehabilitate the country’s economic condition and any future economic planners should work as a regulatory body only. Subjected to the condition on the specific ground, the government has to maximize the tax collection activities followed by strict and transparent monitoring system to manage and discharge whatever the government has earned from its tax generating areas such as privately owned business sectors, government run ports, airports etc. Over the last twenty years, the Somali people have shown an entrepreneurial skills and the patience to survive in a very difficult environment, therefore they should be given the opportunity to prosper in an environment conducive to growth and development. At the same time, they should be encouraged to employ as many people as possible who will eventually have the buying power to stimulate the economy. In the rehabilitation process of the nation’s infrastructure, the government has to distribute the developmental projects equally across the nation. Similarly, the Somali contractors should be chosen across the country to make sure that all citizens are accessible to the opportunities in the new Somalia. Moreover, the international financial aid should be shared equally across the country.
If the Somali Federal government fails to do so, it will lose its legitimacy and the country may again become hospitable to non-state actors such as new warlords and other type of terrorist groups.
Omar Mohamud Farah (Dhollawaa)