Holding a Somali conference in Garowe, the capital of Puntland State was high praise for the local population and opportunity for all Somalis to engage a genuine national reconciliation. Puntland State duly represents the interests of one sub-clan of one of the 4.5 Somali clan families. However, the population of Puntland State has no responsibility for the flaws and self serving outcome of a conference organized to promote externally driven agenda that conflicts with national reconciliation and ownership, transparency, accountability and sovereignty.
Apart from the gaffes, strange and contradicting statements displayed during the opening and closing remarks, the conference ended peacefully and politely but it opened multiple doors wider for foreign influence and dismemberment of Somalia. The hard to seize solution is true commitment to “Somali national vision” based on widely accepted reconciliation, shared interests, values, and truths for restoring new national identity.
The Garowe Conference- dubbed the First Somali National Consultative Constitutional Conference was exclusively organized, funded and controlled by the United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS). It is far from the truth to say that the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) conveyed the conference. As a matter of fact, UNPOS made the hasty convocation of the conference scheduled on December 21-23, 2011 through a press release 022/2011 issued on December 19, 2011 after the Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan has been ousted from office on December 13, 2011 with 280 and later with 287 votes. Furthermore, the selected participants were merely invitees to the conference opened by the President of Puntland. Finally, the agenda and the official document of the conference, certified by the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General of the UN for Somalia Christian Manahl, were exclusively written in English.
A systematic analysis of the Garowe document (Garowe principles) reveals abuses of national sovereignty, political manipulations and disregard of the provisions of the Transitional Federal Charter (TFC). The document contains threats and intimidation. Paradoxically, the signers including the ousted Speaker urged (ordered) the parliament to respect the Kampala Accord which violates the TFC and thus the legislative power. In addition, they requested the international community (IC) to take punitive action against any member of parliament and by extension any Somali citizen for any action or statement interpreted as derailing the implementation of the mysterious roadmap never submitted to parliament for approval. Out of the four elements of the Roadmap, the IC and Ethiopia are keenly interested in the introduction of clan based federal constitution for ending the current failed transitional period and inaugurating another 4 years transitional period with its causes of failure built in. Consequently, UNPOS’s mandate will automatically be extended for the same period.
The document exempts the top TFG leaders (President, Prime Minister, ousted Speaker and his two deputies) from no confidence motions, scrutiny, criticism and accountability for the exercise of their public responsibilities or power. TFG leaders and their appointees enjoy the power to rubber stamp the new federal constitution and act without legal checks. They are free to intimidate and arrest anyone they want, ignore parliament and good governance practices. AMISOM forces execute their orders with alacrity. Anybody who opposes the Garowe Principles, Kampala Accord and the Roadmap will be labeled as spoiler and could face personal risks or end up at the International Court. This unprecedented fraudulence would belittle the integrity of the United Nations and IC.
Tied with the illegal suspension of Parliament’s activities for a month, the Garowe document has put the parliament out of business from December 14, 2011. The document assumes that the current parliament cannot take legislative resolution action in the last six months before the end of its term. The end-term date has been moved from August to June 15, 2012. Premeditatedly, the Kampala Accord of June 9, 2011 has unequivocally disabled the parliament in advance. TFG is unconstitutional Government taken over by UNPOS.
As I mentioned in my article on the draft constitution back in September 2010, the Speaker was trusted partner of the IC on the constitution-based initiative for a transition to a new transitional period. His removal legally from office shocked the IC in Nairobi and forced UNPOS to announce the date of the Constitutional Conference in Garowe despite many issues were under discussion. The Speaker with no parliament in session will remain IC partner.
The Roadmap transferred the powers of the Transitional Federal Institutions provided in the TFC to six persons called stakeholders– three mentioned in the TFC (President, Speaker, Prime Minister) and three added without plausible justification (Presidents of Puntland, Galmudug and an alternating representative from Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama). Therefore, all decisions prepared by the UNPOS under the guidance of the United Nations Department for Political Affairs (UNDPA) are or will be rubber stamped by the six persons. The UNDPA is led by UN Under-Secretary General B. Lynn Pascoe of United States, Assistant Secretary General Tayè-Brook Zerihou of Ethiopia, assisted by experts well versed on Somalia. The continuous deterioration of Somalia’s political situation and the outcome of Garowe conference should persuade the Department’s leadership to seriously reconsider the direction of its efforts on Somalia.
In Garowe, the six persons passed constitutional principles without prior authority, public consultation and with palpable conflict of interests. The dictated constitutional principles are:
— System of government based on federal clan system with undefined hybrid of constituents.
— Formation of National Constituent Assembly of 1,000 members appointed by the roadmap stakeholders with the authority to approve the clan based federal constitution. Its life time will only be 15 days.
— Conformity of the Federal Constitution to the Puntland State Constitution.
— Establishment of bicameral legislative structure: (a) Upper Chamber with unknown members of the unknown federal states and regional administrations and (b) Lower Chamber called federal parliament with 225 members of whom 20% will be women members. The 225 MPs will be selected through different processes on the basis of clan representation formula of 4.5 for 4 years term. Strangely enough the clan representation and substitution will not be described in the Constitution. This clause of hide and condemn clan affiliations but religiously practice clan discrimination is odious and unpatriotic and contradicts the role of the Traditional Leaders.
— Formation of 15 member interim electoral commission appointed by the familiar stakeholders of the roadmap and empowered to evaluate and approve all 225 MPs nominees. The commission overrides the clan rights as primary constituents of the Somali State. The practical purpose of the commission is to keep the selection process under the control of the stakeholders and IC as it has happened in Djibouti in 2009. This kind of controlled process will defeat the emergence of legitimate State in Somalia.
— Nomination of MPs by recognized traditional leaders (by whom?) assisted by qualified civil society members. This is an anomaly in the Somali culture because the traditional leaders have the responsibility to consult with their clan and sub-clan members.
— New federal parliament will be sworn on June 15, 2012 but its term will commence on August 21, 2012. The current parliament is for all practical purposes dissolved now.
— The document decrees that Somaliland is part of the Federal Government of Somalia. The lack of participation of Somaliland in the future political process will vitiate the Garowe document.
— The Garowe document is final and will not be submitted to parliament for ratification. It controls the federal constitution in preparation, and binds the next parliament and Government during the coming 4 years transitional period.
The process outlined in the Garowe document is replica of 2002-2004 and 2008 processes. The next 4 years transitional period would be another precious time wasted. Somalia’s roadmap conspiracy is unveiled in Garowe.
In conclusion, there is resemblance between UN (IC) and Al Shabab approach for establishing governance in Somalia. Both ignore the sovereignty, interests, and legitimate representation of the Somali people for the consideration of higher purpose of Allah in the case of Al Shabab or of Chapter 7 of the UN Charter and of the building block (clan based federalism) wanted by Ethiopia and Kenya in the case of UN (IC). Al Shabab sought the help of foreign fighters to implement its governance model in Somalia, while the stakeholders of the Roadmap created by UN (IC) rely on the support of foreign forces (AMISOM) to claim authority. Both approaches forebode bleak future for Somalia.
Mr. Mohamud M Uluso