> Somalia: New Roadmap - the Garowe
Dr. Michael A. Weinstein
30 December 2011
After a lull during autumn, when preparatory work proceeded behind the
scenes, the serious business of establishing a permanent constitutional
order for the territories of post-independence Somalia began in earnest with
the holding of the "Somali National Consultative Constitutional Conference"
in Garowe, the capital of the semi-autonomous state of Puntland, from
The conference resulted in an agreement among the organized political
administrations that are participating in the constitution-making process on
guidelines for determining Somalia's political future. Announced as the
"Garowe Principles," the agreement prolonged the transition to a permanent
political order for Somalia, which was supposed to be completed by August
2012, until 2016.
It is not surprising that the "transition" has been deferred yet again. In
the first place, it is not a "Somali-owned" and certainly not a
Somali-determined process; rather, it is the project of the Western
"donor"-powers working through the United Nations Security Council and the
United Nations Political Office for Somalia, which attempts to implement the
U.N.S.C.'s mandates. The "donor"-powers/U.N. bankrolls whichever political
mechanism(s) in Somalia that it chooses to support. At present, where the
"donor"-powers/U.N. will put its money is up in the air, because it has
decided to draw back from political involvement in Somalia and, as a
consequence, is rushing to impose a political solution. The Garowe meeting
is a part of that effort, which is encapsulated in the "Roadmap," which was
devised by U.N.P.O.S. to structure the "transition."
The problem with the Roadmap process is that it did not take into account
the deep political divisions in Somalia that could only be overcome through
an internal Somali process of working through the divisions on the ground
and in discussions. An imposed rush job could not be expected to succeed.
The Garowe Principles show that clearly by instituting what Africa Review
appropriately called a "new roadmap" that sets in motion a four-year
transitional government to replace the current transitional government that
the "donor"-powers/U.N. and regional states engineered in 2004. August 2012
is not the beginning of a permanent political order; it is the inception of
a new transition.
What does the new transition accomplish? What made the old Roadmap fail? The
second question needs to be addressed first, because its answer reveals the
fundamental structure of Somali politics; that is, divisions over the form
of a permanent Somali state. The division at the Garowe conference that led
to deferring the transition is only one of the deep divisions over the
nature of the state among Somali groups, although it is an important one and
an indicative one. It was sufficient to derail the original Roadmap process.
The Basis of Representation The fundamental issue that surfaced at the
Garowe conference was the basis of representation within the structure/form
of a future Somali state.
The conference was "convened" by Somalia's Transitional Federal Government
(T.F.G.), "hosted" by Puntland, and "facilitated" by U.N.P.O.S. It was
attended by the "authorities" that had signed the old Roadmap - the T.F.G.,
the Transitional Federal Parliament (T.F.P.), Puntland, the semi-autonomous
state of Galmudug covering part of the Mudug region south of Puntland, a
faction of the AhluSunnaWal-Jama'a (A.S.W.J.) movement from Mogadishu, and
In advance of the conference, U.N.P.O.S. issued a "Briefing Note on the
Constitutional Conference in Garowe and the Roadmap," which contained its
directives for the conference. Calling the conference "another step towards
the implementation of the Roadmap," U.N.P.O.S. said that the conference
would discuss and agree on the drafting and adopting process for a permanent
constitution to be implemented in August 2012. As it turned out that
scenario did not come to pass, because the Somali participants were too
divided to carry it through, forcing U.N.P.O.S. to make a desperate attempt
to heal the rift, resulting in a new Roadmap - the Garowe Principles.
The conference began on December 21 with a deceptive display of unity by its
Somali participants, notably the T.F.G.'s president, Sh. Sharif Sh. Ahmad;
its prime minister, Abdiweli Gas; the T.F.P,'s speaker, Sharif Hassan Sh.
Adan; and Puntland's president, AbdirahmanFarole. All of them agreed in
their opening statements that the structure/form of a permanent Somali state
should be federal. Only Sh. Sharif anticipated the conflict that loomed
ahead, when he said: "The debate could be what type of federal system."
The latent conflict became manifest on December 22 when a "heated debate,"
as the Som-Today website reported, erupted over the basis of representation
which would be used for a reformed parliament that, according to the
Roadmap, would precede the full formation of a state. The battle lines were
between Puntland and the other Somali participants, with the former saying
that representation should be based on region and district (political basis)
and the latter saying that it should be based on clan (social basis), as it
is in the present T.F.P.
The debate over the basis of representation was serious; it would determine
the balance of power among clans within a constitutional order. Aclosed
source privy to the debate reports that the split was a clan-based
resistance of the Hawiye and Rahanweyn clan families against the Darod,
which dominates Puntland. The other clans, according to the source,
calculated that they would not have enough constituencies under the
political formula of representation to counter the Darod, so they defended
the old system of clan representation that they calculated gave them an
By the end of the second day, it became clear that the adversaries were
unwilling to move from their positions, which meant that the conference
would fail and U.N.P.O.S. would lose control of the transition. Desperate to
find a way out of the impasse and save the transition, U.N.P.O.S., as
reported by Som-Today, floated a compromise in which parliament would
function for four years under the present 4.5 clan representation formula,
and then would be replaced by a parliament defined by a new permanent
constitution. Som-Today reported that the opposing sides rejected the
On December 23, the conference broke down when the two sides failed to agree
on a communiqué that would issue from the conference. That was U.N.P.O.S.'s
nightmare. The conference was extended for an extra day. According to
another closed source, U.N.P.O.S. used the time to exert pressure on the
adversaries to accept U.N.P.O.S.'s compromise.
The pressure worked and on December 24 the participants signed the Garowe
Principles, which follow the U.N.P.O.S. compromise plan.
The Garowe principles are not a compromise in the sense of a give-and-take
among positions, but a jamming together of positions, in this case by
prescribing an initial phase in which clan representation is in force and a
succeeding phase in which regional-district representation takes over,
presumably on a permanent basis. Puntland gets a promise and its opponents
get a lease on life; anything might happen in four years. The old Roadmap
gives way to a new Roadmap; that is, a new "transition."
The first phase of the new "Roadmap" - the transitional phase - is a new
parliament that is to begin to function in June 2012 and will be based on
the 4.5 clan representation formula. Its members are to be nominated by
"recognized traditional elders assisted by qualified civil society members,"
or by existing regional administrations, and "in case the prevailing
situation does not allow for universal polling, the parliament will be
selected on the basis of constituencies" [as is almost certain to be the
case]. In essence, the new transitional parliament recreates the old one,
with fewer members than at present. There will be no parties, no elections,
and no permanent basis of representation.
The second phase - the promise to Puntland - is the establishment of a
"bicameral federal legislature," with the upper house composed of "federal
states and regional administrations." Neither house is to be based on the
4.5 formula: "the new Federal Constitution shall not include any provisions
using the 4.5 formula and shall not be amended to abrogate this stipulation
in any manner," and, after the new transitional parliament's four-year term
expires, the permanent parliament "will be elected through universal polling
of one person one vote."
Having formulated and engineered its compromise, the "donor"-powers/U.N. had
to accept a new four-year transition, not only to satisfy the participants
opposed to Puntland, but because Puntland's model of federalism could not be
implemented until regional authorities were formed in southern and central
Somalia, where they do not presently exist.
The new Roadmap leads to Puntland's model of federalism, and the Garowe
Principles are supposed to "guide and direct finalization of the draft
constitution and the process of ending the transition." That said Puntland
has four years to make the new Roadmap stick and its opponents have four
years to try to derail its process. What does the new "transition"
accomplish for the "donor"-powers/U.N.? They are the ones who have driven
the process to where it is now.
The Transition Renewed
Obviously, what the "donor"-powers/U.N. accomplished at the Garowe
conference was to renew the transition, which is the opposite of what it
wanted in its rush to fabricate a "permanent" constitutional order in
"Somalia," so that it could diminish its commitment to "Somalia."
How and why that happened can be traced directly to the lack of political
will on the part of the "donor"-powers/U.N., which refuses to take operative
responsibility for a process that it has engineered and purports to
In the case of the Garowe conference, the lack of political will manifests
in a refusal to stand up to Puntland and not allow it to determine Somalia's
future political dispensation in advance of the Roadmap's constitutional
process; and a consequent placating of the opposition to Puntland by
extending the transition and ending the old Roadmap and putting a new
"transitional" Roadmap in its place. In short, the "donor"-powers/U.N. was
not willing to use its diplomatic resources to save its own Roadmap.
The question now becomes what the "donor"-powers/U.N. will do next. It could
settle in for four years of "transition," but it does not want that. It
could pretend that the "transition" is a phase of the permanent dispensation
and deal with its institutions as though they formed a state organization in
the international system. It could withdraw its commitment to the new
"transition" and pursue a policy of balkanization. It is too early to tell
which way the "donor"-powers/U.N. will go. The "donor"-powers had been
holding on to the Roadmap process as a better alternative to balkanization,
but now they are in the position of "facilitating" a Roadmap that is no
longer their own and even more importantly drags on for four more years.
Their commitment to it becomes more problematic - an initial failure of will
leads to a jammed-together "compromise" that deflates will even more. The
probability of balkanization increases.
Will the "donor"-powers/U.N. be willing to see through the difficult process
of forming regional states along the lines of Puntland in southern and
central Somalia? Will it use its diplomatic resources and political
expertise and political facilitation to support regional federalism? Does
the "donor"-powers/U.N. have the will to take operative responsibility for
the new Roadmap? No one else can do it. Or will the Garowe Principles be
scuttled, by-passed, or ignored? If that happened, Puntland would be drawn
closer to declaring independence along the lines of Somaliland.
It is important to remember that the dispute between Puntland and the other
participants is only one of the deep divisions over the nature of the state
among Somali groups. There is the status of Somaliland, the place of
Islam/Islamism, and the proliferation of incipient and competing regional
administrations, local administrations and aspirational authorities, some of
them backed by Ethiopia and Kenya. The divisions over the nature of the
state are existential, not theoretical. It only took one of them to tear up
the old Roadmap. The Garowe conference only represented some of the Somali
political forces. Even in that restricted set, U.N.P.O.S. could not engineer
a synthetic compromise. What if the Garowe conference had been more
inclusive and the other conflicts over the nature of a future state in
Somalia had surfaced? How would U.N.P.O.S. have handled that?
Forging a political order for the territories of post-independence Somalia,
if it comes about, will be difficult work.The "donor"-powers/U.N. has never
faced up to that judgment, especially since the beginning of 2011 when it
tried to force a quick transition. The gap between Somalia's political
complexity and its political needs, and the simplistic self-serving
expedients of the "donor"-powers/U.N. is so wide that it guarantees failure
for any of its designs, unless its aim is to keep "Somalia" in political
limbo in perpetuity. And that has also become a possibility.
When the driver has abandoned the wheel, the passengers try to seize it. At
present, Puntland is faced with having to try to make the Garowe Principles
stick. The opposing forces are faced with having to try to overturn the
Garowe Principle. Both sides will try to use the "donor"-powers/U.N. to
their respective advantages. The only way to avoid that scenario is for the
opposing sides to reach a genuine synthetic compromise, which requires that
they trust each other. And the same goes for all the other deep political
divisions over the nature of a future Somali political order.
The "donor"-powers/U.N. suffers from a lack of will coupled with a wish to
control.That is a political pathology. The Somalis suffer from a lack of
trust, and that is not to say that it is not well grounded. How to build
trust among one another is a task for Somalis, if they care to undertake it.
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Received on Fri Dec 30 2011 - 14:07:21 EST