Briefing: Somalia's political roadmap
NAIROBI, 22 February 2012 (IRIN) - In August, Somalia faces constitutional
limbo if the key provisions of a political "roadmap" agreed in September
2011, and one of the topics of this week's
> conference in London,
are not met.
What governance structures exist in Somalia?
The internationally recognized and funded administration in Somalia is the
Transitional Federal Government (TFG), appointed by parliament in 2004 after
three predecessors and more than a dozen major and often internationally
sponsored conferences failed to establish a nationally effective government,
something Somalia has lacked since the fall of Mohammed Siad Barre in 1991.
The TFG's legislative branch is the 550-seat Transitional Federal Parliament
(TFP). It and the TFG are defined in the Transitional Federal Charter, a
sort of proto-constitution, and have outlived their original mandate, which
expired in 2011. New governance structures are supposed to be in place by
The fact that the TFG has little presence or control outside Mogadishu and
is unelected, being a product of prolonged negotiations in Djibouti between
armed groups, former warlords, international mediators and some elements of
civil society, weakens its legitimacy.
The TFG depends on foreign military and financial assistance, including
10,000 African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces in Mogadishu. Large
parts of southern and central Somalia are controlled either by loosely
allied factions, militia and self-regional administrations or "micro-states"
or by the hard-line Al-Shabab. Kenyan and Ethiopian troops are attempting to
push Al-Shabab out of key towns and economic strongholds in the south and
Meanwhile, stable northwestern Somaliland has claimed independence since
1991 but plays no part in the TFG.
What is the roadmap?
The "Somalia End of Transition Roadmap" is a detailed nine-page list of
dozens of tasks designed to steer Somalia towards more permanent political
institutions and greater national security and stability.
These tasks are grouped under the headings of security, a new constitution
(due by June 2012), political outreach and reconciliation, and good
The roadmap includes measures for countering piracy; co-opting local militia
groups (although there is no specific reference to Al-Shabab); preventing
the recruitment of children into armed groups; demarcating territorial
waters; reducing the size of parliament and planning for elections;
developing peace-building initiatives; and tackling corruption.
It was announced in Mogadishu on 6 September 2011 and initialled by the
Somali prime minsister, leaders of regional entities Puntland and Galmudug,
the head of the Ahlul Sunnah wal Jamaa'ah (ASWJ) militia group, the UN envoy
to Somalia, representatives of the League of Arab States, the African Union
and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
What support does the roadmap enjoy inside Somalia?
Augustine Mahiga, the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative to
Somalia and head of the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), described
the document as "probably the most inclusive instrument and most inclusive
process" of all the efforts to rebuild Somalia's governance. Mahiga pointed
to the involvement of regional entities such as Puntland and Galmudug.
"We have also brought in civil society, which is a whole array of social and
political actors, including women, elders, religious leaders, the youth,
business community and the diaspora... Our [UN] role was only to facilitate
in terms of logistics; it continues to be Somali-led and a Somalia-owned
process," said Mahiga.
In early February, Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali declared his
government's commitment to the roadmap "and to fulfilling the tasks that
will allow us to move into a new era of security, stability, political
inclusivity, and financial integrity.
"We believe government should come from the people. We need to re-establish
that link between our parliament and our public - that is why we must reform
our parliament," he added.
Do legislators back the roadmap?
Not all of them. In early January, 185 legislators, led by second deputy
speaker Ahmed Dhimbil Asawe, wrote to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
complaining that a copy had not been submitted to parliament for approval.
"The word 'roadmap' is being used to mislead and confuse the Somali public,"
he said, adding that the only substantive topic of discussion at related
conferences was reducing the legislature's size. The letter also called for
the TFP's mandate to be extended for three years.
One legislator, Omar Islaw Mohamed, told IRIN the roadmap was "the
brainchild of the international community with very little Somali input.
Only a small group of Somalis - who appointed themselves - are pushing
something many Somalis have no clue about."
Mahiga told IRIN the reforms had "created insecurities among
parliamentarians" because the changes "will not only reduce their numbers
but also define new criteria on representation in parliament".
What other issues are contentious?
Political analyst and president of the Somali Canadian Diaspora Alliance
Abdi Dirshe said the roadmap "undermines the sovereignty of the state
institutions of Somalia as the institutional oversight mechanisms are now in
the hands of external forces", such as the UN, AU and IGAD, as well as
Uganda and Ethiopia.
"This approach will undoubtedly strengthen support for resistance and the
likelihood of wider support for groups like Al-Shabab," he warned in an
article published on the
> Somali Talk
Dirshe said priority should rather have been given to the restoration of law
and order by reinforcing national security forces and establishing an
Countering the charge of unwanted foreign meddling, Abdihabib Yasin Warsame,
a US-based Puntland Diaspora Forum leader, wrote in a recent
that "an honest inspection of history reveals that Somalia has been bogged
down by its own leaders refusing to reach a collaborative solution. The lack
of personal accountability and the never-ending crisis among our leaders was
the rationale that led the creation of the roadmap."
Political scientist Oduesp Eman said that by failing to focus on bolstering
and unifying the army, the roadmap "sets the stage for indefinite dependency
Concern has also been raised about the clout accorded in the roadmap process
to select regional entities such as Galmudug and the ASWJ, given their
unelected status and alleged financial backing from neighbouring states. The
exclusion of other similar entities, say critics, undermines the objective
of political unity and confidence in the process and runs the risk of
increasing the perceived legitimacy of groups such as Al-Shabab, which claim
to champion the interests of the wider population against foreign
For Mahiga, there is no alternative to the current strategy. "The message is
clear: the roadmap is the way forward and spoilers seeking to derail the
process will not be tolerated," he said in December 2011.
While "engaged, constructive dissent" was welcome, he said there was "no
place for those who work to unravel years of work advancing the cause of
peace in Somalia".
Is the roadmap on track?
Mahiga told IRIN the document's deadlines were being met and that the London
Conference would give "added momentum" to the process and provide new ideas
about what has to be done after the transitional period expires in August.
But independent Horn of Africa analyst Rashid Abdi said that despite
progress on drafting the constitution, there was only a "minuscule" chance
that all the benchmarks would be achieved on schedule. Parliamentary
infighting and dysfunction, he said, would slow down the key pillar of
Some analysts argue that members of the TFG and TFP would like the roadmap
not to be completed, because they could then avoid elections and remain in a
governance structure they believe the international community would have no
option but to continue to recognize.
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Received on Wed Feb 22 2012 - 18:58:38 EST