August 12, 2012

Info-Battle Over Somalia’s “Roadmap”

On the third day of Hillary Clinton’s nine-day Africathon, the Secretary of State dedicated a part of her stopover in Nairobi to Somali President Sheikh Ahmed Sharif and other members of the expiring Transitional Federal Government (TFG). Clinton would praise the government’s progress towards meeting “all the requirements of the roadmap by the August 20 deadline,” including the formation of a new parliament and constitution. Many Somalis and analysts, however, don’t share the view of foreign powers who they accuse of interfering in Somalia’s national affairs.

These counterarguments encapsulate many of their observations.

Somalia: The consequence of a cooked constitution

By Dr. Sadia Ali Aden, published in NewsTimeAfrica
Indeed nations need constitutions; a social contract to establish rule of law and become the foundations for needed legislations to protect the individual rights as well as the nations from greedy and corrupt politicians that may abuse the power vested in them. Furthermore, constitutions are needed to outline the domestic boundaries of authority and safeguard the sovereignty of the state. Constitutions are not always perfect; however, under such circumstances they are not entirely replaced. They are simply amended, but not in Somalia.
Somalia had one of Africa’s first democratically ratified constitutions. In 1961 the constitution of the newly independent nation was ratified by an overwhelming popular support of the citizens of a newly formed Somali nation state. So, one might ask, what prompted the new “provisional” constitution that was passed on August 1, 2012?

Anyone who has been following the Somali political saga even from a distance knows that there has been a huge controversy that surrounded the new constitution. He or she would also know the force and urgency that instigated, drove, and made it mandatory item in the Road Map was the international community (IC), or more specifically, the Ghost-lords or the elements within the IC who benefit from business as usual. While the fanfare in certain circles is somewhat fathomable, the absence of local and international media scrutiny is appalling.

This latest constitution does not only raise red flag in the outrageously pricey $60 million that the UNDP claims to have spent on it, but it affords the platform to further polarize the Somali society and aggravate the existing wounds that could give rise to renewed conflict. This is simply a reinvention of the status quo.

To give the new constitution certain domestic authenticity, Ghost-lords outsourced its plan to a few corrupt Somali politicians who were motivated by money, prestige, or political survival. Their task was to repeat what they were dictated to, without questioning its legitimacy, and convince the unsuspecting populace of that the new constitution was for their protection as people and a nation, and that it was essential for lasting peace. Since, as they say, the devil is in the details, the new constitution was shrouded in mysteries of secrecy for a long while. When the constitution was finally endorsed there were several versions or drafts that kept the average person in a state of confusion and frustration.
Moreover, according to BBC Somalia analyst Mary Harper, the constitution appears to exist in a parallel universe, a fantasy land, when compared with the reality on the ground in Somalia, with universal access to education and the end of female genital mutilation unlikely to happen anytime soon...
Somalia: Will corrupted MPs elect a genuine leader? 

By Osman Jabane, published in Horseed Media
Somalis currently discuss leadership qualities in every social setting. The question of leadership has emerged as the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFI) mandate is coming to an end in this month. The TFG agreed to hold an election while there is no efficient electoral commission in place that can conduct free and fair election. Most of the Somalis are highly skeptical and believe that this election will be the toughest in the history due to the presence of many candidates including corrupted ones.
It is obvious that the parliament cannot produce a genuine leader that can make a difference to the country unlike the current ones who have their own selfish interest. Most of the MPs whose list have been submitted to represent their constituent or clan, what so ever, cannot represent the Somali people. They are tribal affiliated rather than common citizenship. Some of them are not academically competent and to make it worse, they did not complete secondary school education which is the least education qualification one can have. There is wide spread rumors that some individuals are making fabricated secondary school certificates or equivalent experience so as to apply and qualify the position. Therefore, the question that we all supposed to ask is that, will corrupted Member of Parliament who came through tribalism, nepotism elect a genuine Somali president? I leave the answer to the Somali people but we need to learn a lesson from the past. Back 2004, we have witnessed a historic moment where most of the warlords became legislators, and we thought this was the end of lawlessness in the country but due to many factors there are still no functioning institutions in the country, and it can be said that the situation got worse and worse by the day and all that trial ended in vain.

On the other hand, front-runners of the current presidential elections are doing their best to convince members of the parliament in a different ways, some are concentrating on getting alliances that can campaign or do the hard work for them, some are approaching directly to parliamentarians, while others are contesting for the race in order to capture the media attention with a view to becoming a member of the new cabinet. It is evident that no candidate can win the election without the support of parliamentarians; therefore, candidates are aware of the importance of MPs as they are making the ultimate decision. But the problem is that neither 275 parliamentarians nor others who are currently involving the process are demanding to scrutinize candidates’ reasons of wanting to lead the nation. Without accountability or scrutiny, candidates will have the opportunity that they wished from the first place, hence the increase of candidates...

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