Somalia is a war-torn country. It has not yet recovered from the trauma of over thirty years of wars, death and destruction, migration and dispersal of its population across the globe, and in particular, most of its civil service personnel, administrators, educators, health officials, security people, and others. A new generation with no institutional memory is currently in control and have little or no idea of the ways of running governments, people and nations and, of course, they make mistakes. This is not helped by those who want to take advantage of the country and people. Somalia is located in one paradise of a place, a geostrategic location, which attracts the powers that be in the world.
A country like Somalia thus attracts not only those who want to take advantage of it but also those who want to help. The actions of these actors confuse the population and its leadership, which at times appears to be erratic and clueless of what they are doing and the effects/impact these actions would have on the future of the nation and people. Seeking admittance and obtaining accession to the EAC was one of those ill-advised actions the Federal Government of Somalia has recently taken. This was an action that was taken hastily without due consideration to the post-conflict rehabilitation of the country, its reconstruction or its reconciliation processes which are far from being complete.
The major pending issues include among others non-reconciliation with Somaliland or its release from the union of 1960, the issue of settling the capital of the country or creating a new federal state for Benadir region, non completion of the federal constitution and presenting it to the population for ratification in the form of a referendum, preparing the country for one person one vote election processes for those who are eligible, settling the issue of the federal states and demarcation of their jurisdictions, and many other issues.
Addressing these issues is a herculean job and, in this article, we shall try to cover superficially, at least, some of those matters including why it was not good for Somalia to jump into joining other groups like the EAC, which already has its own rules of the game, as opposed to starting together with closer neighbors a new group, like the horn of Africa States, that would have been more beneficial in our view. We shall also endeavour to outline some of those issues that appear to us to be important in the reconciliation and rehabilitation process of the country. In the long run, Somalia needs to re-emerge as a useful member of the international community and not be a problem child, as it was, over the past thirty some years.
The EAC is an existing group of countries that have been operating together for over 23 years now and they have their rules of the game, most of which may not to the liking of Somalia’s population which enjoys a history and traditions that are vastly different from the populations of the EAC group. It is clear to us that in the not-too-distant future, Somalia will bounce back from this group, which speak differently, has a different cultural base and ethnicity. Somalia is not ready for such a group as the EAC which is remolding itself into a federation soon and hence implying loss of sovereignty. Somalia should have recovered and rehabilitated itself first before it took this drastic and overly dangerous step. But then all is not lost yet for the Federal Parliament of Somalia still holds all the cards for not putting into law and ratifying such accession of the EAC.
It is clear that the President may not mean or wish any ill will for his country, but he is perhaps being pushed by forces stronger than himself and the country. Traumatised countries usually attract all kinds of not so good parties including NGOS, money launderers, mercenaries and the mafia. They also attract equally those who want genuinely to help. In any case both, known as donors, only finance projects that are in their interest or suit their images. In the case of Somalia, other than meager assistance given for helping traumatized people such as those hit by droughts and famines or floods, nothing really major has been done for the country in terms of construction of any major project over the past three to four decades.
We have no idea what is in store for the country, but major powers and regional powers are currently involved as they were over the past decades. The general assumptions of these countries on Somalia appears to leave, so far, a lot to desire. Perhaps it is time that those involved should let the Somalis manage their affairs and goad them to do so, not imposing their will, even if they seek assistance from others. They should not be denied control over their lives as seems to have been the case in the past, as is the case even today. It is where the Federal Parliament needs to play its role of rejecting all matters that seem to have been forced on the President, and which appear to the normal Somali as UnSomali thinking. They should not forget that they still have all the cards. They represent the population.
Much concentration of the activities in the country appears to being on capacity building, services for some of the underprivileged or perceived underprivileged but not really on improving on the shattered road systems, agriculture, fishing, port and port services and ways of making wealth in the country, indeed the shattered economy. Note that there are many opportunities for creating wealth in Somalia. They include among others, investing in the country’s blue economy, sub-soil mineral wealth such as oil and gas and education for improving the skills of the youthful population with respect to the technologies of the future. These would add on to the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the country and progress can be tangibly touched and felt, instead of the tonnes of paperwork and feasibility studies/collection of data that currently seem to flood the country. It is again where the Federal Parliament of Somalia matters instead of being bogged down in clan politics as is the case today. They still have all the cards in this respect.
Somalia is potentially rich. A country with its location alone is blessed. But it also has many other potential wealth creators. It is reported to have extensive oil and gas reserves, almost a third of the known uranium reserves in the world, gold, iron ore, tin and lithium, and a long coast of 3,300 km of blue pristine coastal belt good for visitors who love the seas and there are millions of those who would love to visit and enjoy its beautiful weather. Showing the population the path to peace is certainly the prerogative of the Federal Parliament of Somalia. It is not only the Government that should be burdened with all that should happen in the country. They should be playing their role as part of the governance infrastructures of the country. Again, we must note that they have all the cards and should use them, instead of waiting for the President to direct them. The country is not in the Revolutionary era before 1991. It is in another era where peoples’ representatives should also show initiative and not wait for the executive branch of governance. The President is not even the executive branch, which is represented by the Prime Minister and his ministers, but it appears that those powers have been usurped by the President today.
Somalia just received relief from a heavy debt, mostly accumulated interest. The country should not forget the people who worked on this matter most and Dr. Abdirahman Duale Beyle, the Ex- Minister of Finance of the last administration, and indeed, the first months of the present administration, should be remembered and rewarded for his work by the Federal Parliament of Somalia. He put most efforts on the matter and even the IMF and the World Bank know about this. But they are watching and measuring how Somalis and Somali gubernatorial infrastructures value and reward their own. These multilateral institutions that helped the country achieve the debt relief, are looking forward to Somalia borrowing again. It is their raison d’etre to lend funds and reap interest. Should Somalia borrow again? The Federal Parliament of the country should have a say in this matter. The country is not ready for such a venture as it is not rehabilitated. Parts of the country, indeed, the greater part, are not under the control of the Federal Government. The proper mechanisms for borrowing and how to manage these borrowings are not in place. The country’s financial system is not the control of the government. It is mostly in private hands. There is nothing wrong with private interests, but they should be working under defined rules, which are applied and/or applicable. This is not the case at present. It is the job of the Federal Parliament of Somalia to have these processes in place by the Ministry of Finance of the country. It is part of the job of the Federal Parliament to launch a major reconciliation process of the country. This again is a demonstration that the Federal Parliament has all the cards.
Peace and stability are the key factors that Somalia needs today. Achieving peace is a choice that people should make and parliamentarians who claim they represent the people should be able to help achieve peace in the country. Holding peace conferences, creating committees that travel across the country with a view to instilling peace in various parts of the country and sustaining that peace should be one of the top priorities of the Federal Parliament of Somalia instead of being holed up in Mogadishu, and only waiting for the executive branch to come up with agendas. It is clear this is not an easy job, but that is why they became parliamentarians, in the first place, to work for the people. This is again another important part of their duties and obligations. They have all the cards and should use them.
Somalia has been suffering from many ills including terrorism resulting from poor governance, poverty again mad-made and resulting from the continuous clan and internecine wars in the country, foreign interventions including direct invasions, and of course marginalization, and migration of the most learned, and most skilled. Many countries have passed through worse traumas, but their peoples have recovered through hard work and dedication and rebuilt their countries. There is no reason Somalia should lose hope. But its governing infrastructures must play their roles correctly and the Federal Parliament of Somalia is one of the key organs of governance in the country. They should play their part and fulfill their duties and responsibilities. They hold all the cards.