Somalia’s New Roadmap: The Garowe Principles 30 Dec 30, 2011 - 4:11:25 AM
By: Dr. Michael A. Weinstein
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 December 21-24. 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 U.N.P.O.S.
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 advantage.
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 compromise.
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 “facilitate” (direct).
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.
Report Drafted By: Dr. Michael A. Weinstein, Professor of Political Science, Purdue University in Chicago firstname.lastname@example.org