September 4, 2012 ·93 Comments
30 June – 19 August 2012
Report and policy recommendations by Osman Jama Ali (Kalluun)
Monday, September 03, 2012
I visited Qatar, Dubai, Nairobi, Mogadishu, Berbera (port in NW Somalia) during the first 3 weeks of July before returning to London via Dubai. My mission was to encourage dialogue and reconciliation, the philosophy that with IofC we have to carry out in order to revive the Somali state. I met businessmen, intellectuals, staff of international NGOs, former and present politicians, and people who are trying to be members of the coming government. My message to them was the message of Initiatives of Change, of reconciliation, accepting each other, a non-clan-based approach, encouraging peace, security and dialogue.
Change of mentality
A complete change has taken place in the mentality of Somalis in Somalia and in the diaspora. Before, everyone was trying to be clannish, and see other clans as not to be trusted. Now, after more than 20 years of civil war and hatred, people have suddenly put away their weapons and are accepting each other as Somalis, one nation.
It is the first time since 1991 that the capital Mogadishu has had one authority. (The Mayor of Mogadishu is a graduate of IofC, trained in dialogue and reconciliation.) Before, Mogadishu used to have more than 20 warlords; every district was controlled by a warlord with a militia composed of his clansmen. When I was Deputy Prime Minister 2000-3, we could not visit any district of the city without taking armed guards. But now with only a driver, I visited every district of Mogadishu, by day or by night. It was safe! Before, only certain clans inhabited Mogadishu, but now there people of all clans and regions accepting to share the capital.
People from the diaspora are pouring into Mogadishu to participate in the reconstruction and revival of the capital. There are possibly 10,000 from the diaspora, from every country, who went back just to see. Hotels are full, there are so many cars on the roads. Revival is obvious when you go there. I was amazed how things have changed in a short time. The Shabab (terrorist organisation) have left the city and the surrounding areas because they have seen that the public are against them and not ready for more wars.
Somalis are sharing Mogadishu. There are so many people from all regions now in Mogadishu. When I used to go to ‘Somaliland’ and talk about unity, they used to say that if Somalia became peaceful, people would go there. It is the African way to only concentrate on the capital. This is weakening the secessionists and strengthening the unionists. The Somalis are accepting each other as one nation.
Effect of the International Community
We have to be grateful to the International Community (IC), which is giving real attention and facilitated the Somalis to create their own parliament. Previous parliaments were created outside Somalia – this is the first time that Somalis are selecting their MPs and government members. Now Somalis accept to sit together in their capital to put their own house in order. Important that Somalis work together now to consolidate. The IC is now united to help Somalis get rid of terrorist organisations, and piracy. The Somalis are getting a lot of attention because of that.
The London conference
The intergovernmental conference in London in February generated widespread international attention on Somalia. The fact that the UK, which is a member of the UN Security Council, and the country which accepted the biggest number of Somali refugees, focussed its attention on Somalia gave great hope to Somalis. And the UK has more experience with Africa than any other country. We felt this was the beginning of the revival of the Somali state. Because of the attention given by UK to Somalia, even the Gulf States and other Arab countries are giving more attention. Before they were not trying to fight piracy or terrorism, but they are now fully on board.
Importance of the UK Somali diaspora
Somali citizens of other European countries come here because of the language. So the Somali community in Britain are the biggest and most active diaspora in Somali. The UK Somali diaspora sends back more money to Somalia than any other diaspora. The diaspora in Europe, North America and Australia have learned a lot from the people they lived among. These people have a great influence on Somalis inside Somalia and are now teaching them about the philosophy of democracy.
Dreams of revival
Everyone says, ‘We will soon be one of the most developed countries in Africa. ‘First suffered, first recovered.’ We are in a strategic position, with the longest coast-line in Africa, with petrol, gas, mineral, marine resources, life-stock, agriculture and only 10 million people. Many companies are now contacting them to exploit the resources, because of the attention given by Britain, Turkey and the IC. It gave great hope.
The corruption and nepotism of the previous governments have been exposed by the Report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea to the Chairman of the Security Council Committee concerning Somalia and Eritrea. Now the IC will not agree to give money without the proper controls. Bribery for political gain is being revealed and our hope is that the corruption will be controlled. Clannish and corrupt people will be the focus of attention which was not the case before. Now the expenditure Somali government will be monitored by the IC, and gradually corrupt and clannish people will be expelled, particularly because the diaspora will not tolerate it. Ordinary people are talking about the corruption.
Piracy is reducing because of the intervention and activity of the IC. In the last 6 months piracy has diminished by 80% and it will end soon, because of the hope that came, and because people have courage to denounce the pirates. Many Somalis are sending goods from the Gulf, and when the pirates started attacking Somali dhows, people turned against them.
1. Need for international support to continue
We need the guidance of the IC until we have real stability and security. There is some security due to people being tired of conflict, but this has to be encouraged. The government and MPs won’t have the resources to do
everything they want to do, so the guidance of the IC is very necessary. The priorities are the monitoring of finances and expenditure, the creation of political parties rather than clan-based parties, decentralisation – giving the people their voice – clannism, nepotism and corruption must be fought. Because the Somali institutions are weak, the IC must guide.
2. Why federalism is not appropriate for Somalia
Federalism, with its ‘presidents’ in each regional capital, will not help the unity of the Somali people. The idea of a Somali federal state came from Ethiopia. However, in Ethiopia, federalism is based on ethnicity. It is not appropriate for Somalia which is the most homogeneous state in the whole of Africa (one ethnicity, one language, one religion). More importantly, most Somalis believe that Ethiopia is proposing federalism for Somalia as a way of dismembering Somalia into five weaker clan-based states (Somaliland, Puntland, Benadirland, Bayland and Jubbaland). Somalia needs democratic, decentralised administrative regions coordinated by a unified national authority.
The IC needs to encourage bottom-up, geography-based approach, rather than the clan-based approach. Local administrations at village, district and regional level must be created and encouraged. After independence, the civilian and the dictatorial governments from 1960-91 used to nominate the district and regional administrators. This has to be decentralized, and the district commissioners and regional governors have to be elected by the people to democratize the society.
3. Army and police recruitment should not be clan-based, but geography-based
The recruits for the national army and police force must be drawn from every region, with the districts putting forward their own candidates. Until 1991 the majority of the Somali army and police were uneducated recruits from the rural areas. Urbanisation happened very rapidly, and there are a lot of university graduates in every region. Now there is a huge army of unemployed graduates and secondary school leavers in every town. They should be recruited and trained to be officers and soldiers which would create employment opportunities. In time they can effectively replace the foreign troops.
4. Somali diaspora as ‘Peace Corps’/‘Overseas Volunteers’
Now that the IC is guiding the parliament and the future government, the hope of the Somalis is very great. As the great powers came through civil and international wars, so Somalia is emerging from its wars, and the huge diaspora, which gained experience and education in the advanced world, is now teaching the masses. In the 1960s when most African countries got their independence, the British and Americans used to send students to Africa to go to the towns and villages as overseas volunteers. The same can be done with the European and American Somalis who can be enabled to go back for 2-3 years to teach the Somalis what they have learnt.
There is great hope that the real revival of Somalia is beginning!
By Osman Jama Ali (Kaluun)
September 3, 2012Follow @somalilandpress
By Hassan Ali