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Last Updated: Feb 11, 2014 - 5:11:05 AM
Somalia: A new constitution, amidst war, famine and exodus [Editorial]

GAROWE ONLINE EDITORIAL | The lack of a constitution creates opportunities for confusion, thereby lengthening entrenched political disorder.


Somalia has been in the grip of military dictatorship, national disintegration, civil war, terrorism and piracy, for the past 40 years. This country’s political stability has been effaced by conflict and corruption, thereby rendering efforts to re-institute the nation-state ineffective and leading to failed stabilization initiatives.


The wider international community has always been troubled by the endless crises in Somalia. In 2004, the regional-bloc IGAD, backed by the West, facilitated a two-year Somali peace process hosted by neighboring Kenya. The effort accumulated into a Transitional Federal Charter, and a new parliament selected through Somali clan system and elections for a new president. Today’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Mogadishu is an extension of the TFG in 2004 and world governments have aided the TFG with military, financial and political support, directly or through AMISOM.


However, it is the TFG leadership that did not take advantage of this generous assistance. TFG officials have been notorious for engaging in infighting, political disputes, and widespread corruption. While world powers, whatever their intentions, provide material support to the TFG – including funding AMISOM peacekeeping force in Mogadishu – the TFG officials largely failed to meet their responsibilities. The contradiction between international support and TFG shortcomings is the loophole that has paralyzed the TFG since its inception more than seven years ago.


Among major shortcomings of the TFG since 2004 is the failure to finalize a new constitution in accordance with the country’s federal system. The lack of a constitution creates opportunities for confusion, thereby lengthening entrenched political disorder.


Today, there are those who say ‘we oppose federalism’ and they wish to re-start the Somali peace process from the beginning. At the London Conference of February 2012, the wider international community reiterated support for the Somali stabilization efforts led by the African Union and IGAD, in partnership with TFG and other Somali allies.


This reaffirmed the international community’s commitment to stabilizing Somalia and liberating the country from terrorists, pirates, and other criminals.


Those Somali groups, who are continuously spreading misinformation via Somali satellite TVs, radios and websites, should wisely remember that Somalia decided on a federal system in 2004. After seven years of foreign military intervention, TFG institution-building, liberation of Mogadishu and reopening of city’s port and airport, countless battles and bombings, neither Somalia nor the world is ready to re-start and change direction. Why did Somalis and the world commit to such significant sacrifices, if the end result was to re-start and do it all over again?


Somalia’s new constitution under a federal system should be enacted by the National Constituent Assembly, as agreed in the Garowe Principles of December 2011, signed by Somali stakeholders. This move ensures that the country finally has a constitution and that the Somali transition is ended on time.


Political disorder in Somalia is deeply rooted in a misunderstanding over power and resource sharing. Past constitutions in Somalia are founded on a centralized system of government – a system that has a 30-year-history of disappointments and failures in Somalia. Past constitutions, also, did not reflect post-1991 realities in Somalia, when mistrust increased among Somali communities as a result of clan wars.


In the new federal constitution, power and resource is divided accordingly at the national and state-levels. This ensures that local rights are protected, while national responsibilities are upheld. As such, in reinstituting Somalia, amidst war, famine, and exodus, one must take a step back and take in a full view of a nation in ruins. The destruction in Somalia was not limited to bullet-scarred buildings in places like Mogadishu; indeed, the destruction touched on a number of layers, social, cultural, political, and economic layers. The destruction has been felt inside homes, and at big businesses. A new line of thinking is required when envisioning the resurgence of the Somali nation-state.


The Somali people are seeing hope at the end of the tunnel. The federal constitution, if ratified by the National Constituent Assembly, sets clear guidelines for the political order in Somalia and all players must abide by constitutional rules. The spoilers, even those within the TFG, only seek short-term gains but the Somali people want tangible results. Moreover, the world is expecting TFG leaders to deliver on promises of ending the transition on time.


After 40 years of national trauma, the Somali people deserve a new beginning and an opportunity to put into office those who genuinely care for the people.


Garowe Online Editorial

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