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Op-Ed: Political Expediency may Forfeit Reform in Somalia

By: Abukar Arman –

The worst thing that could happen to Somalia at this critical juncture—in its recovery from two decades of bloodshed and chaos— is to disrupt the momentum of security improvement and to derail the reformation process lead by Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and his cabinet. And that is exactly what the Kampala Accord has inadvertently done.

But, who would have ever thought that the torpedo factor would come in the form of an accord, its inadvertent nature notwithstanding!

The Kampala Accord is the byproduct of the International Contact Group for Somalia’s 19th meeting held in Kampala, Uganda. On one hand, the accord endorses a one year extension to all the Transitional Federal Institutions and endorses the postponement of elections from this August to August 2012; on the other hand, it forces the Prime Minister and his government out. According to the accord, the Prime Minister would resign within 30 days and the President would select a new Prime Minster.

This portion of the accord is what has caused profound public outrage in Somalia and in the Diaspora as well as in refugee camps in Kenya.

Immediately after the controversial accord became public, thousands of civilians from all walks of life and hundreds of members of the armed forces took their outrage to the streets. While, by and large, the protests were peaceful, some resorted to throwing stones at the hospitality compounds where some parliament members were residing, thus causing clashes between the protesters and the resident security that ultimately resulted the tragic death of some protesters.

So, if the accord is not in accordance with the will of the people, who does it benefit?

While the accord was not deliberately intended for that purpose, indeed there are certain beneficiaries.

First: The anti-reform agents and anarchists. This group includes a network of powerful profiteers and corrupt politicians who became the privileged few in the past two decades.

Second: Second: Al-Shabaab, who, after loosing much of its territorial control in Mogadishu and in various regions and lost one of its top foreign leaders, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, found an opportunity to exploit the breakdown of the security apparatus resulting from the demonstrations and a number of the soldiers leaving key posts to protest the accord. In the past several days, Al-Shabaab carried out a suicide bombing operation in which they assassinated the Interior Minister Abdishakur Sheikh Hassan; and another one intended to wreak havoc at the sea port which is the Transitional Federal Government’s main source of revenue. This latter operation has killed 1 person and injured more.

Third: The so-called Nairobi Mafia consisting of certain corrupted individuals, groups, NGOs, and institutions that control and exploit hundreds of millions of dollars donated to Somalia every year without any accountability.

Prime Minister Mohamed’s government demanded transparency per the actual percentage of those monies being spent on Somalia. Furthermore, he demanded that all UN agencies and NGOs assigned to work on Somali humanitarian, political, and development issues to set up their respective shops in Mogadishu or in other regions within Somalia.

Fourth: Certain elements within the international community who relentlessly engage in overt and covert campaigns to shape a Somalia that is comforting to their myopic strategic interests.

Fifth: The Speaker of the Parliament, who only a week earlier—though without any constitutional authority or a mandate from the parliament—was spearheading a relentless political campaign to pressure the government into adding a few of his handpicked cronies to the current cabinet. The accord would dissolve the government that he was openly hostile to, and would afford him the opportunity to influence the selection process of the new government.

Sixth: Sixth: The President. The accord afforded him an opportunity to shed off the growing allegations of being an impediment to the peace process, and to extend an olive branch to the international community for boycotting the Nairobi Consultative Meeting.

Within this backdrop, the Council Ministers met in Mogadishu on Saturday June 11, 2011 and decided to endorse the profound public sentiments expressed in the streets of Mogadishu, and urged the Prime Minister not to resign. They sent the Kampala Accord to the Parliament for ratification, and in the process requested a call for a vote of confidence on the Prime Minister’s performance.

Meanwhile, if accords are to be ranked based on the conflicts that they resolve and the hope that they inspire, the Kampala accord fails miserably.

While the will of the people is considered the legitimate source of authority of any democratic government; in Somalia, political expediency and symbolism driven by external and internal forces seem to define, award and impose authority.

The ICG, and by extension the international community—the very entities recognized to defend the will of the people—are ironically lending their unequivocal support to an accord that runs in a collision course with the will of the Somali people.

The political pulse of the nation, gauged by the latest popular uprising, asserts in no uncertain terms the public outcry that ‘enough is enough’.

By: Abukar Arman
abukar_arman -AT- yahoo -DOT- com

Abukar Arman is Somalia’s Special Envoy to the United States.

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