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The “TFG of Technocrats” isn’t all that different from its predecessors

Clearly, the performance of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Technocrats has disappointed those who had hope for a fundamental change and held dear the revival of the “Somali Republic” on a sustainable foundation. The TFG of Technocrats has created more problems and distresses rather than confidence, accountability and hopeful future. In effect, it isn’t all that different from its predecessors and it has appropriated typical appeals, warning and rhetoric.

Conventional wisdom tells us that Technocrats possess not only the knowledge and skills needed to understand the principles, interests and norms controlling the international relations and politics, but also have the capacity to critically evaluate domestic problems, perceptions and realities, which took root in Somalia in the past half century of abuse of state power, civil war, foreign intervention and religious conflict. After taking stock of the past record of failures and unfulfilled dreams, they were expected to formulate a different vision, strategies and tactics.

Unfortunately, so far the facts reveal neglect of use of technocrat faculties. During his recent visit to the United Nations, Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Formajo repeated the usual appeal for massive international financial and military help, which has never been adequately and responsibly responded to. There is duplicity in the relation of the International Community (IC) with the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFI) or TFG. IC uses TFG and TFI interchangeably for purpose.

The IC asked TFG to develop a political roadmap on the implementation of the transitional tasks scheduled before August 2011 and the PM issued that roadmap. TFG sought from the IC additional time to prepare a new constitution that has “absolute legitimacy and binding authority,” which means an extension of TFG’s mandate. However, Ethiopia says that the IC rejected TFG’s bid for extension and called Speaker Sharif Hassan Sh. Adan to Addis Ababa for political machinations. Internal political turmoil has begun.

In support of Ethiopia’s position, through its multiple arms, the IC is implementing at its own discretion a series of Transitional Tasks such as the completion of a new Constitution in collaboration with subsets of Parliament, civil society groups and the Independent Federal Constitution Commission (IFCC). Under the banner of popular consultation, it has engaged BBC and number of consultants to publicize and finalize the draft constitution before end of February 2011. It engineers the emergence of constituencies from civil society and outside groups for the support of the federal system, which is resolutely opposed by the majority of Somali stakeholders on the basis of national interest. Hence, Somalis are denied the freedom, right and opportunity to defer the constitution making process and undertake it in post conflict situation. Foreign countries and foreign residents cannot replace Somalia and Somali Citizens.

The IC has established layers of structures and working groups that override TFG’s role and functions. In 2008, the UN has inserted two structures into the Djibouti Agreement: (1) High Level Political Committee (HLC), and (2) Joint Security Committee (JSC). Somali Ministries, Chiefs of Police, intelligence, and Military and Key actors of IC are members of both Committees. It is for this reason that the IC honors and clings to Djibouti Agreement as substitute or superior to the Transitional Federal Charter (TFC). The parties to Djibouti Agreement have melted away a long time ago.

HLC is a decision-making body on all national political issues. JSC is described as “the main strategic technical decision making body which guides and coordinates the development of Somalia’s security institutions.” Under the direction and oversight of the JSC, soon will be established New Strategic Planning and Programming Technical Working Group, Justice and Correction Technical Working Group and a Piracy Task Force. Military and Police Units have been operating within the United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS). The International Contact Group, the UN Senior Policy Group, the Kampala process and the adoption of the National Security and Stabilization plan will strengthen the IC’s authority over Somalia. These committees and structures symbolize a de facto UN Transitional Administration of Somalia.

A corrupt dysfunctional parliament and current TFI leaders are a serious cause for despair and protracted chaos. The primary goal of the TFG is to defeat Al Shabab forces as a condition for peace, security and better life in Somalia. This goal needs focused, honest, competent and patriotic leaders-President, Speaker and Council of Ministers- strengthened by a compact with IC. Current TFG leaders pursue different agendas and personal interests, and they have deeply demeaned the Somali politics.

The President’s inability to provide effective leadership has undercut the government’s ability to prevent catastrophic deterioration. He failed to reconnect with the public and to challenge the IC with clear political agenda. Under his leadership, the humanitarian situation has dramatically worsened. To the view of many, the President’s Chief of Staff became a de facto President.

The corruption allegations and the prolonged and unaccountable absence of the Speaker Sharif Hassan have tarnished TFG’s image and undermined confidence in it. The Speaker has remained indifferent about the fight against terrorism, piracy and corruption. As some Media reported, he travels frequently to Kenya, Dubai and Other Countries where he has business interests. His presence in Mogadishu coincides with the times of political power struggle or of fight on financial resources. His record of public service performance and accomplishments is disastrous.

Various factors have tarnished PM Formajo’s neophyte leadership. First, he either underestimated or ignored the gravity, diversity and uniqueness of the Somali political situation. He gave the impression that he had political ambition but not a new or different political vision. Second, the Speaker has torpedoed his and cabinet confirmations. This has planted seeds of friction and distrust between him and the Speaker. Third, he handled badly the crisis around foreign contractors like Saracen International and became victim of his protégés. He put himself in an unpleasant Box after he refused to tell the world who signed the agreement with the mercenary firm once he didn’t deny its existence. Fourth, he embarked on political ploys. It defies integrity and reality the use of bogus statistics, like TFG controls 60% of Mogadishu, while insurgents are little distance away from the Presidential palace or 80% of the population live in government controlled area when 80% of Mogadishu residents are IDPs between Afgoi and Mogadishu. Unfortunately, unrealistic political rhetoric became part of the politics of “TFG of Technocrats.”

TFG is not a legal political entity at local and international level. It’s roadblock to constructive dialogue among Somalis. The Western Media asserts daily that Somalia has no functioning government since 1991. Yet, it is one of the forces that contribute to the misery and depredation of the Somali people.

Legitimate Somali leaders should assume the responsibility to debate on the future of Somalia. Internal dialogue is key to a change of fortune in Somalia. A compact among Somalis combined with compact between Somalis and the IC is the way forward. The debate over TFG and Draft Constitution is distraction from the real problems of Somalia.

Mr. Mohamud M. Uluso


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