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Friday, June 15, 2012

Somali Intellectuals: The Transition Period Should Not End

The Beautiful Somali Flag

Somalia has been without central government—a government that controls the security and the territorial integrity of the whole country—for over two decades. There have been few transitional governments backed by the United Nations and the regional powers: Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti as well as the Uganda and Burundi. While the international community, in all instances, failed to establish a viable government in Somalia, they rightly dubbed these administrations as “Transitional Governments”.
  Unfortunately, whatever the reason, the international community decided to change their stand in terms of Somalia’s governance status to that of permanent governance, a departure from their over a decade-old position. While the Somali people are ready and deserve for permanent ownership of their country, the current folks in Somali political arena are not to be trusted with the enormous responsibility that comes with a permanent leadership.

In recent months, Somalis have vigorously been debating the proposed constitution for Somalia, unlike the potential end of the transitional government in Somalia which deserves as much debate as the new constitution for the country. But all indications are that the transition period is all but ended, at least, in the eyes of the international community. Conversely, the Somali public is reluctant to subscribe to this ill-advised proposition. For instance, Eng. Said Sharif Osman, one of most respected Somali intellectuals, stated that the lack of thorough consultation with Somalis of all spectrums is nothing short of “insult to Somali people’s intelligence”.

 Furthermore, in a recent gathering by some of the most high-profile Somali community in the diaspora that took place in Minneapolis, MN on 06/05/2011, Abdihamid H. Hersi, a community leader in St Cloud, MN, rejected the idea of handing the country over to “incompetent, corrupt, and radical ideologue” leaders.  The sentiments made by Eng. Said and Abdihamid are echoed in the course of the meeting. For instance, Bile Daad, a financial analyst, warned that if the transition period is ended hastily, looting of the Somali natural resources both on shore and offshore will be the new norm, which in turn will inspire a new “nationalist revolution”  which will defend their country by any means necessary. On other hand, Hussein Awad, a banker, summed up his opposition of ending the transition period as simple as “handing the keys of Somalia to those who would trade the whole country with a few dollars”. 

In addition, Abdirahman Hassan and Mohamed Hersi, both members of Diaspora business community, agreed with their colleagues. Mr. Hassan indicated that the transition period could come only as result of direct votes from the people, not by an appointed parliament.  Meanwhile, Mohamed Hersi welcomed all efforts to help Somalia’s return back into the world communities by building its national institutions, infrastructure, and most of all, its security apparatus, which would pave the way for fair and free elections that hopefully produces capable, patriotic leaders—leaders who fulfill the will of the people, not the demands of the foreigners, since then, says Mr. hersi, “transitional government is the more appropriate model for Somalia”.   And lastly, Abdirahman Takhal, the executive director for Center for Somali Peace and Justice, urged the international community to help Somalis to establish a government built to last, which means one lead by competent, capable, and most of all, trustworthy leaders—qualities the current players in the Somali political arena lack.

Above are those mentioned in the corruption report
On the other hand, under the tenure of the current leaders, corruption is so tolerable so much so it became the new norms in the TFG operations.  According to a recent World Bank funded report in which the TFG leaders, particularly Sheikh Sherif Ahmed, the TFG president; and the current Speaker of the Parliament, Sharif Hassan were among those named in the report. The report estimates that the TFG collected about $94 million in revenues in 2009, and $70 million in 2010. The question is: how did the executive branch manage the $164 million (combined total of 2009 and 2010 revenues) which is intended for public expenditure? Well, as the report states the “TFG executive branch spent a major part of public revenue and direct bilateral donations in 2009 and 2010 for their own benefit.” Please note that the report did not account into the direct donations nor the collected revenues from tax on khat, telecommunication, and remittance companies.  Could this explain how Shekh Sharif could afford $2 million mansion in Istanbul, among other houses?

Sh. Sherif's Private Plane
In conclusion, it has become clear for this editorial during the aforementioned meeting, the Somali intellectuals across tribal and regional lines are demanding the international community to fulfill their will, not what power-hungry individuals in Somalia and profit-motivated international corporations are telling them. They are insisting that the Somali public voting has the right to re-shape their society’s destiny. Despite poverty, war, drought, and poor governance, Somali people must rise up, dust themselves up, and demand accountability for their country and hold their leaders to account. This dream is not far-fetched if the international community does their part by thinking again on their decision to take the country beyond transition period by establishing permanent governance until fair and free elections are held in Somalia.  In which case, the Somali people would have a greater stake in governing their country—an act that will surely propel them into their rightful place among other great cultures and civilizations.

Dalkayaga Editorial 


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