Topic: TFG
Analysis
Somalia's 'Transition' Can Go Either Way
By MUBARAK 08/25/2012

In the past week, Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) was officially no more; the cabinet ministers are acting on a caretaker basis, most of the new parliament members were sworn in, and a date was set for elections of the parliament speaker, after which the presidential elections will take place.

Despite everything not going according to schedule (presidential elections were due on August 20th), the process to move beyond the current transition is nevertheless steadily moving forward.

Somali people the world over are euphoric over the upcoming elections; websites and Facebook pages dedicated to supporting one candidate or the other have sprung up. In Mogadishu, the Sheikh Sharif campaign has been distributing campaign t-shirts since early July. Young men wearing the t-shirts ride motorbikes around Mogadishu, many of whom are reportedly members of the secret police, which would indicate Sharif is using government funds to campaign for president.

But the truth is that the public campaign is more for show than an attempt to really win votes; the president will be elected by the quasi-representative parliament of 275 members, many of whom have yet to be accepted by the technical committee.

Perhaps the public campaign is in line with the rather inaccurate perception that this indeed is the end of the transition and that the new government has more legitimacy and is more democratic than the one it is replacing.

To understand the similarities between the TFG and the incoming government, one has to look at the basis of both governments.

Somali Parliament
Somali Parliament

Both are based on the extremely flawed 4.5 system which shares out government positions on the basis of clan, and has been proven to be less than efficient with the TFG. This system was first used by the Transitional National Government (TNG) that was created in Djibouti in 2000.

The TNG was more based on the clans than the clan warlords; the latter – with heavy Ethiopian help – were mostly responsible for the destruction of the TNG, denying it the power to move beyond Mogadishu.

A lesson was learnt: no matter how much a Somali government had popular support (the TNG arguably had more public support than any Somali government in the past 20 years), it could not function without the consent of the warlords.

The answer was the TFG created in Nairobi, Kenya in 2004; this time the warlords would lead the process and thus be heavily represented in the new government. There is a little difference here between the TFG and the incoming government: while the elders with the warlords were responsible for naming the first Transitional Federal Parliament (TFP) (the outgoing TFP was a product of the TFG – ARS peace deal of late 2008, which saw the parliament doubled in size), the elders are supposed to have sole powers in nominating the current parliament. Some of the elders were accused of being impostors or of selling seats to the highest bidders, but at least they had the final say on who would represent their clans, unlike during the formation of the first TFP.

As the warlords were very much responsible for its creation, the first TFG administration was filled with the who’s who of Somalia’s warlords; the bigger the warlord’s area of influence, the more powerful a post he got in the cabinet. Almost all of Mogadishu’s warlords were given ministerial posts.

Quickly, it became clear that not one of the warlord ministers was interested in moving to the government headquarters in Jowhar and later Baidoa. Muse Sudi, a Mogadishu warlord gave a hint of the warlord mentality when he said that the then-Somali president Abdullahi Yusuf was “putting on shoes that were bigger than him”, alluding to the fact that the Mogadishu warlords were not happy with someone who wasn’t from their clan being the president.

The Mogadishu warlords were only fired when Mogadishu had mostly fallen to the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) in 2006, and many of them had humiliatingly run to Baidoa for cover.

Today the technical committee overseeing the nomination of the current parliament reportedly tried to block the nomination of the more notorious warlords, but did accept the Islamist warlords (Sharif's pals).

While the old warlords’ influence in Somali politics is minimal – the Islamist warlords are more powerful now – they should not have been allowed to be part of this attempt to move beyond the tarnished TFG past.

There are people who are responsible for a decade and a half of hell in southern Somalia; if anything, they should be tried for their crimes, not allowed to be part of the process to move beyond that hell.

Perhaps more dangerous than the warlords to the future of a now-distant truly democratic Somalia is the presence of the three most powerful men in the TFG: Sheikh Sharif, the outgoing president; Sharif Hassan, the outgoing parliament speaker; and Abdiweli Gas, the outgoing prime minister.

These three men have turned the Somali government revenue to their own personal bank accounts, overseeing a massive scheme that saw the siphoning off of as much as 70% of government income before it even reached the central bank, according to this year’s UN SEMG report. Imagine how much more was stolen after reaching the central bank.

Arguably, the federal government’s corruption and lack of support for the local administrations of Mogadishu may have caused the rampant corruption of said administrations’ officials. These guys openly steal food aid meant for IDPs in their areas; some of them still have extortion checkpoints in the city.

While the men on top have been busy stealing government funds, they forgot to pay the men who are supposed to die for Somalia: the Somali national army has not been paid for months, according to presidential candidate and former Prime Minister Mohamed Farmajo – also accused of being a government funds embezzler by other government officials.

The unpaid soldiers have in turn turned on the unarmed populations of the frontline districts such as Afgoi (Afgoye), where they are accused of looting and killing at will. The president visited Afgoi many times to reprimand the commanding officers, but let us face the truth: an army created from warlord militias with no discipline can not be expected to behave itself when not paid in time, especially with their constant need of the relatively expensive Khat.

For this transition to have been of a great significance, the individuals who have been guilty of sabotaging the Somali state from within should be held accountable for their actions and denied the chance to once again lead Somalia – if by lead we mean drag into an abyss.

The new government has challenges even before it is born: it claims to represent all of Somalia, including the secessionists in northwest Somalia who call themselves Somaliland, and the areas still in Shabab hands in central and southern Somalia.

Translating that claim into reality will be harder said than done; Somaliland leaders have spoken against elders representing their region, saying that they don’t represent them. As for the Shabab, they held counter conferences with clan elders who support them in their areas of control and have said that they will fight the new government as they fought the old one; for them, it is business as usual.

While Somaliland officials say they will continue talking with the new government, there is little hope that they are ready to renounce their secessionist ideas any time soon. Even if that were to happen, I doubt they would want to join a government heavily manned by the most corrupt people on earth.

The Shabab used their more moderate leader, Sheikh Hassan Dahir, to deliver the message at the end of Ramadan in the coastal city of Barawe that the group had no intention of stopping the war.

However untouched the topic of talking with the Shabab is, it shall have to be done sooner or later. The group has lost a lot of territory in the past one and a half years; their biggest city, Kismayo, is now under threat and may fall soon.

Al-Shabaab in Afmadow
Al-Shabaab in Afmadow

Sure, continuous loss of territory has the tendency of radicalising some fighters, but some factions may, just may, decide to get a deal for themselves.

As for the clans who totally support the Shabab no matter what, some of them apparently have second-degree elders present in Mogadishu. For example, the firmly pro-Shabab Gaaljecel were represented by the brother of their supreme leader who had given his pledge of allegiance to the Shabab.

Elders will switch loyalties if they see it as being of the best interest to their people, so the elders in currently pro-Shabab territories just may decide to accept the new government if it conquers all of Somalia.

This is not to say that we have seen the last of the Shabab or that they are on their way out. They may very well outlive it as they outlived the TNG and the TFG. Dealing with them cannot and should not be limited to military action; they do represent a section of the population that is fuelling them with men and arms.

Already there are signs that there are better days ahead for Somalia: the top three corrupt men may not win as 20 candidates are reportedly deciding to field one candidate. Most of these candidates have decent backgrounds and stand a chance to win if they decide on one candidate.

Let us hope that four years from now Somalia will be able to have its first truly democratic government in more than half a century and that this government will not be as bad as its predecessors.

The bar is not set high; let us hope they don’t set it lower.

Exclusive
Anniversary Marks Extreme Highs and Lows for Somalia
By MOHAMED NUXURKEY 08/05/2012
TFG Preparing to Retake Bakara Market in Mogadishu (File Photo)
©Somalia Report
TFG Preparing to Retake Bakara Market in Mogadishu (File Photo)

August 6th marks one year since Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) Forces and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) soldiers forced al-Shabaab Islamic militants to flee the capital of Mogadishu, ending their three year grip on the port city. To mark this historic anniversary, Somalia Report looks back at the past year of highs and lows.

In an effort to maintain Mogadishu and secure other areas of the country, TFG and AMISOM forces, supported by local militias and Ethiopia, have pushed the militants further out of the southern and central regions, with Kismayo, the last al-Shabaab stronghold, slated to be the final target, which the government promises to size within three weeks.

In addition to significant military gains, Somalia has seen a number of positive developments in the last year including delegates approving the new constitution, elections have been scheduled for the 20th of this month, businesses are thriving, and the Diaspora is returning in record numbers to help rebuild the country.

While these are all positive developments, Somalia has suffered greatly in the last year from famine, drought, massive displacement, hit-and-run attacks by insurgents, rampant piracy and ship hijackings, drone strikes, human smuggling, the rise of the Galgala militia, the emergence of countless ministates, and countless suicide bombs and assassinations throughout the country.

One year ago today, residents told Somalia Report they were shocked by al-Shabab’s spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohmud Rageh aka (Ali Dheere) announcement that the group had no choice but to vacate Mogadishu as part of a 'tactical retreat,' and vowed to launch guerilla warefare throughout the capital.

“This past year has been a tremendous challenge," said Mahad Sheikh Ali (Ibaar), the head of an International Coordination for the Democratic Party of Somalia (DPS) which is chaired by the former president Mohamed Siad Barre’s son, Maslah Mohamed.

“Since August of last year, we have been progressing toward peace and development. But this last year has also brought a string of suicide bombings, and assassination attacks. Security has been the biggest challenge for Mogadishu," Mahad told Somalia Report.

Rebuilding Mogadishu
©Somalia Report
Rebuilding Mogadishu

Construction has been booming in the city, according to Halima Ahmed, a 63 year old grandmother who spent most of her life in Mogadishu and spoke to Somalia Report.

“I’m a witness of Somalia’s 21 years of volatility from the civil war to the Islamist revolution in 2006. I’m now a member of my older son’s family here. Previously we had lived in CC village in Karan district, but in 2010 we moved to Dharkenley district west of the capital," she explained.

"Many of my neighbors fled but we stayed. What I have noticed has changed over the last year is we have seen an incredible atmosphere towards and enthusiasm for peace, development, and hope. The Somali people got tired of the bloody violence during al-Shabaab's control of the city," added Halima.

“It was terrifying to live under their control. The beheadings, forced recruitment without regard for age or gender, and influence was so hard and unpredictable. It is so much better now," Halima told Somalia Report.

Local residents appreciate their newfound freedoms, particularly in Mogadishu, but each day is tempered by the on-going threat of al-Shabaab infiltrators lurking throughout the city, she added.

Key Events: Aug - Dec 2011

--On August 6th al-Shabaab vacated Mogadishu.

--On August 19 the Turkish prime minister became the first western leader to visit Mogadishu in recent years and his tour paved the way for other international dignitaries.

--Judith Tebutt, a British woman, was kidnapped from a resort in Kenya by Somalia pirates on September 11th.

--On October 4, 2011, al-Shabaab militants carried out one of the most deadly suicide bombings ever since al-Shabaab declared its jihad war against the Somali government and AMISOM in 2007, killing almost 100 civilians mostly young students who were waiting for their exam results in front of the Ministry of Education near KM4 intersection.

--Five days later on October 9th, Kenya sent its military into Somalia as part of Operation Linda Nchi in response to spate of terrorist attacks and kidnappings on its own soil by Somali pirates and militants.

--On October 13th, Somali gunmen kidnapped two Spanish aid workers of MSF from Dadaab refugee camp (and are still being held).

--Two Danish Demining Group (DDG) employees, one American female and one Danish male, were kidnapped in Galkayo on October 25th.

--In December, Ethiopian troops crossed back into Somalia to help Somali troops in seize Beledweyne.

--On December 21st, the first of two UN sponsored Garowe Conferences is held.

Key Events: Jan - Aug 2012

--On January 17th, Puntland said they expected to find at least 300 million barrels of oil in the semi-autonmous region.

--American Michael Scott Moore, a journalist, was kidnapped in Galkayo (and is still being held).

--The UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) relocated to Mogadishu on January 24th after years operating out of the safety of Nairobi.

--On January 25th, two Danish Demining Group hostages were rescued from Somali pirates by US Navy Seals, marking the first very public instance of American 'boots on the ground' since the Black Hawk Down era.

--In February, the Somali government launched a campaign to regain the national property which had become home to thousands of internally displaced persons.

--On February 4th, the UN declared the famine, which began in July 2011, was over.

--On February 9th al-Shabaab officially pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda.

--From February 15 -17, the second Garowe Conference, sponsored by the UN, was held in the administrative capital of Puntland.

--TFG and Ethiopian troops seized strategic Baidoa on February 22nd.

--The Galgala militia in Puntland officially joined with the al-Shabaab insurgency on February 25th.

--On March 21 Judith Tebutt was released by Somali pirates six months after she was kidnapped from a resort in Kenya.

--On April 4 a female bomber blew herself up inside the national theater where Somali Prime Minister Abdiwali Mohamed Ali (Gaas) was addressing the anniversary of the Somali National TV. Two Somali senior sports leaders, Aden Yeberow Wiish and Said Mugambe, and Somali lawmaker Mowlid Ma’ani, wounding dozens others.

--In May, TFG and AMISOM soldiers launched Operation Free Shabelle to liberate the Somali regions.

--On May 29th President Sharif survived an al-Shabaab ambush on his convoy while traveling to Afgoye, which had been seized by allied forces the day earlier.

--Al-Shabaab announced its new organizational structure on June 17th after four days of meetings.

--TFG and AMISOM forces seized Balad, a strategic city in Somalia's Middle Shabelle region, on June 26th.

--On August 1st, two suicide bombers attempted to blow up the meeting of delegates of the National Constitutional Assembly, the same day the constitution was approved.

--One day later on August 2nd, al-Shabaab vowed to kill anyone associated with the constitution.

--On August 4th, the Islamists murdered the manager of Mogadishu's airport.

--August 6th is the one year anniversary of al-Shabaab fleeing Mogadishu.

(Editor's note: Everyday marks another major event in Somalia; therefore, Somalia Report has listed only a few highlights above for brevity and has not included incidents of piracy for this reason. We are well aware there are many more significant events from politics to internal displacement to on-going fighting. This list does not represent any bias or opinion.)

Attacks on Journalists

In addition to ongoing attacks on government officials and civilians since al-Shabaab fled Mogadishu, attacks on journalists have been on the rise with at least ten journalists shot by gunmen in the last nine months, eight of whom were killed while two others were wounded.

Somalia Report can also confirm that the majority of our own reporters receive death threats on a regular basis. We honor and thank them for operating in Mogadishu even before al-Shabaab fled, despite the innumerable risks to their lives. On this anniversary, we also honor those who have been killed trying to bring the news of Somalia to the world.

--Abdisalaam Shaikh Hassan (Hiis) of Horn Cable was murdered by a lone gunman December 28, 2011.

-- Unknown gunmen killed Hassan Osman (Fantastic), the director of Shabelle radio, on January 28, 2012 in Mogadishu.

--On February 28th, SomaliWeyn Radio Director Abukar Hassan Kadaf was gunned down in front of his home.

--On March 4th, Ali Ahmed Abdi of Radio Galkayo was also gunned down in Galkayo.

--One day later on March 5th, Mahad Salad Adam (Mahad Jamal), an editor with the Voice of Hiiraan, was shot and killed in Beledweyne.

--On March 25, a Shabelle Radio journalist, Mohiyadin Hassan Hunsi was shot in Mogadishu but survived.

--On April 24, gunmen shot and wounded Abdiaziz Dirie, a journalist with Radio Simba, in the leg while he was in Mogadishu's Bakara Market.

--On May 2, gunmen shot and killed Farhan (James) Abdulle, a journalist with Radio Daljir in Galkayo.

--On June 8th, a journalist from Bar Kulan was shot on his way home.

--Popular comedian and radio host Abdi Jaylaani Malaaq (Marshaale) was gunned down near his home on July 31st.

Somalia Report Speaks to Representatives From Both Sides of the Allegations
By UGAAS DEEQ ABDI 08/03/2012
TFG and AU Forces in Afgoye
©Somalia Report
TFG and AU Forces in Afgoye

Residents of Afgoye, 30 km northwest of the Somali capital of Mogadishu, have been complaining that soldiers from Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) have been looting businesses, harassing residents and demanding bribes from minibus drivers ever since the allied troops seized the city from al-Shabaab Islamist militants in May of this year.

Somalia President Sharif this week visited Afgoye to investigate the allegations of civilian harassment. During the meeting with local officials and residents, President Sharif berated Deputy Chief of the Somali Army, Gen. Abdikarim Yusuf Adan, for the insecurity in the town and for the lack of accountability of his troops, according to Garowe Online, suggesting that the allegations of abuse were true.

Others, however, blame al-Shabaab fighters for stealing TFG uniforms to create insecurity in the town.

To learn more, Somalia Report spoke with representatives from both sides.

Soldiers Harassing Drivers

The chairman of the Afgoye Minibus and Lorries Association, Abdikadir Geddi, claimed the TFG soldiers have been setting up road blocks, demanding bribes for safe passage.

Thank you for giving us this opportunity to interview you. Can please tell us how the minibuses and lorries have been disrupted by TFG soldiers?

Thank you. In fact, we are totally disabled by the TFG forces because they hinder the movement of goods and people. They set up road blocks on almost all the major roads that leave and enter Afgoye, thus minimizing and restricting the movement of goods and people.

Have you communicated to TFG officials in respect to this issue?

Yes, we have communicated to the authorities concerned and they told us that they never issued orders in which the business activities are disrupted. They do not support these road blocks, but the officials also told us that there is security operation underway. They said its objective is not to harm any particular party or group.

What have you agreed with TFG officials and have they promised a serious action against the soldiers?

They promised that they will communicate to officers in the field and will be informed that they should not go beyond their mandate of restoring law and order and we are optimistic that they will adhere to the guidelines given.

There have been allegations of torture by some drivers who defied the orders of the soldiers to stop. What can you tell us about this?

That was the main problem that prompted us to call for immediate action against the soldiers. Actually a few of the drivers who had been tortured did not defy orders but asked the soldiers for the legal reason behind the restriction of their movement. We have passed the information to the relevant authorities through the right channel and we expect effective action against them.

How did this affect the follow of goods and people in Afgoye?

For the last three days, the drivers have experienced a rough time since all major roads were blocked so the drivers had to use other routes that are unfavorable and dangerous. Overall the movement of goods and people was greatly undermined.

What will you do as drivers if the soldiers continue harassment or the orders of the government officials do not take effect?

We don't expect such things as we are confident that TFG will play its role of safeguarding our interest, but if this continues we shall suspend our operations and conduct a massive strike accompanied by well organized demonstrations until our concerns are addressed.

Any final words?

I would like to inform the people of Afgoye to stand up for their rights. They should not sit back and suffer alone as this is an issue affecting our lives in general. I urge them that we exercise justice and transparency at the grassroots level.

Thank you.

You are welcome

Soldiers Not Harassing Drivers, Blame Al-Shabaab

To get another perspective, Somalia Report spoke to a TFG police officer in Afgoye who denied the allegations, and also asked to remain anonymous since he was not officially authorized to speak to the media.

Thank you for giving us this interview. Can you please briefly tell us how the security is in Afgoye today?

The security of Afgoye town is normal though there are a few incidents of insecurity that occur haphazardly. TFG forces are conducting operations during the night in order to maintain the law and order of the town.

TFG soldiers are accused of torturing and harassing the drivers of the minibuses and lorries. What do you know about this?

Definitely I can say this is a baseless propaganda by some of the shallow minded people who want to create hostility between the TFG and the residents. We cannot continue to tolerate this nonsense. TFG soldiers do not harass, torture or engage in what they are being accused of doing.

The people who are creating insecurity wear TFG uniforms in order to be identified as TFG soldiers. We have so far captured four suspects who were terrorizing, torturing and harassing the people in Afgoye as well as the drivers who mostly travel between Afgoye and Mogadishu. They are now in the custody of TFG police in Afgoye and they will be interrogated to determine where they got the uniforms and other information.

What tangible evidence do you have that these soldiers are not TFG?

We are aware the whereabouts of our soldiers and we can assure you and the residents that they are friendly. They can't harass the people. We are aware of every authorized or unauthorized move made by our soldiers.

What steps have you taken or planning to take to ensure the security of Afgoye residents?

Its our duty to guarantee their security and so far we have mobilized our soldiers to target the culprits and take the matter seriously. We promise the people that we shall not sleep unless we prosecute and the punish those robbers who want to tarnish the integrity of the hard working TFG soldiers.

Is it possible that al-Shabaab is behind this insecurity after they were defeated in Afgoye?

Yes, we believe that the militia group of al-Shabaab are those who are pretending to be TFG soldiers and committing crimes during night. It is one of their characteristics to undermine the peace and solidarity which the people under the TFG control enjoy. The responsibility of the TFG forces is to safeguard and protect the citizens. We would like to assure our citizens that the smooth running of the social activities will return to normal and there will be no more group who will harass them.

Finally what are you urging the residents of Afgoye to do and what are you promising to them so that this does not occur again in future?

I would like to remind the residents that maintenance of the security in Afgoye is a collective responsibility and that everybody should consider it vital to maintain. Moreover I would urge them to report all suspicious elements to the nearest authority and we promise relevant action will be taken against those suspects. We shall not tolerate anything that can damage the integrity of our police force at all costs and urge the residents to cooperate with our forces.

Thank you for your time.

Thank you. You're welcome.

Candidate Abdurahman M. Abdullahi (Baadiyow)
By MOHAMED ODOWA 07/21/2012
As Somalia gears up for presidential elections in August of this year, Somalia Report will be providing a forum for candidates to publish their platforms. Without endorsement, we will offer equal footage to each candidate and an opportunity for the public to learn more about those who wish to represent them. The second candidate who spoke to Somalia Report is Abdurahman M. Abdullahi (Baadiyow) and this is his message. This comes as part of our reports on who is running for president and Somalia's political parties.

Mr. A Baadiyow

Interview

In a brief interview with Somalia Report at the Mogadishu’s Aden Adde International Airport, presidential candidate Abdurahman M. Abdullahi (Baadiyow) called for the strongest possible punishment for those Somali politicians who have been accused of corruption and mismanagement, referring to a recently leaked UN report on the country.

“I won’t name anyone for this mismanagement, but those who are found such a guilty must be held accountable for their wrongdoings,” he told Somalia Report.

Mr. Baadiyow confirmed to Somalia Report that he will run for Somalia’s presidency next month's election.

"Somalia needs to be a strong nation again after civil war that has been raging for almost two decades. After all those hardships and poor leadership in our community, we decided to come out and stand for the presidency. It is really the right time for educated Somalis to see if they can unite this country," he explained.

“If I win the election, we will focus on building all the sectors of the Somali army because it is shame for us to rely on African Union peacekeeping forces or just troops from the neighboring nations,” he added referring to the nearly 20,000 African troops fighting al-Shabaab militants in the country.

Political Platform

Responding to the Call to Serve

In these moments when our beloved nation lies bruised and tired from over three decades (starting from the Ethiopian Somali war in the late 1970s) of downward slide, a straw has been thrown at us by the grace of Allah and the support of people of goodwill to raise ourselves up to our full stature of the proud nation that we once were.

Brothers and sisters, it is with great pride and privilege that I seek the presidency in order to rescue our beloved country from the miserable situation it is in. It is my strong belief that only a highly competent leadership can rescue Somalia. Being one of those who responded to the call to serve, I firmly stand to lead this nation with a new vision and direction that would our country back in the world map as a beacon of peace and prosperity.

Please allow me to present my profile, my conception of the challenges we face as a nation, and my proposal on how we can together address these challenges.

Profile

My name is Abdurahman M. Abdullahi – known to many of you as “Baadiyow”. I was born in 1954 in the district of Eel-Dheer, Gagaduud region. I served in the Somali National Army (1971-1986) where I trained in the former Soviet Union and the USA reaching the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. I have also been an Assistant Lecturer in the Somali National University (1981-83).

I have been married to Muhbo Haji Iman, my beloved wife, for 32 years. We have seven children, one girl and six boys. All of our children have either completed university degrees, or are in the process of pursuing higher education, all the while being active members of their communities.

Brothers and sisters, as you all know, 1980s was a tough period for our country as clan-based armed factions emerged and the regime at that time responded with brutal force while our national army was assigned to carry out this difficult job. The choice for me was to either fight against my people or leave the army and I chose the latter. At the same time, I decided to refrain from joining the armed insurgencies where many of my colleagues vigorously invited me to join. Instead, I enrolled at McGill University in Montreal, Canada to obtain master’s degree and PhD in modern Islamic History.

While living in the Diaspora, I was very active within the local Somali community through student organizations as well as youth and women groups. Among the organizations I played a major role in establishing was the Somali University Students Association (SUSA) in Canada, which is still active after 22 years.

However, I always had the dream of one day going back home and when the first opportunity availed itself, I returned to Somalia in early 1993 as the Regional Director of Mercy-USA for Aid and Developments’ East Africa Program (1993-2007). With Mercy-USA we have reached out to many communities throughout the country and we participated in relief and development efforts, establishing primary and secondary schools as well health centers and Supplementary Food Programs for malnourished children. During this period, I also joined hands with other concerned Somalis to establish the civil society movement in Somalia. In this regard, we have established schools, clinics, women and youth organizations, initiated sports activities, reconciled warring clans and advocated for peace.

For instance, one of the first networked civil society organizations which I helped establish was Peace and Human Rights Network (PHRN/INXA) where I was a Co-founder and Chairman.

In the education sector, the pinnacle of our endeavor in reviving education in our country was the establishment of Mogadishu University in 1996 of which I am one of the founders and Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Thanks to our collective efforts, MU is now ranked among the best 50 universities in Africa.

My desire for peace and commitment to reconciliation led me to become the Chairman of the Somali Reconciliation Council (SRC) in 1994, an NGO focusing on reconciling communities using innovative conflict resolution methods based on Islamic and Somali culture. The SRC worked and delivered successful reconciliation initiatives in Galgadud, Hiiraan, Middle Shabelle, Banadir and the Jubba Valley region, among others.

After years of revived, active civil society organizations and setting conducive environment for national reconciliation, the National Reconciliation Conference was held in Arta, Djibouti in 2000. I was selected as one of the members of the Technical Committee organizing the conference. My responsibilities included overseeing the drafting of the National Charter. I was also present at all subsequent conferences such as that in Kenya (2003-2004) and in Djibouti (2008-2009).

All these were achieved together with many members of my organization- Islah Movement. Islah is a pacifist Islamic organization founded in 1978 and it has established chapters all over Somalia and in the Diaspora. It believes transforming society gradually by invoking its Islamic values of justice, peace and brotherhood. It advocates for the adoption of a Sharia-compliant constitution and the promotion of Islamic values in the state and society. I have been a member of Islah Movement in Somalia since 1985. As one of its key leaders, I served as a member of its Shura Council since 1995, director of political office (1995-1999), the deputy chairman responsible for international relations (1999-2008) and again director of political office since 2008.

Challenges

We are a nation entangled in more than three decades of conflict; a country that has been recognized as the longest failed state in the modern era. The implications of this prolonged conflict and lack of functioning state remains catastrophic in the livelihood of our people and the destiny of our country as a sovereign nation-state.

After the complete collapse of the state in 1991, anarchy and lawlessness severely escalated. We have been unable to sustain a formal economy. The basic livelihoods of our people are compromised due to insecurity, shortage of food supplies and the lack of vital social services.

Somalia has become the subject of international security discourse. The Somali waters are dotted with maritime vessels some belonging to Somali pirates and others to different nations of the world deployed to deter piracy. Internally, Somalia has no functioning government capable of protecting the weak and vulnerable, let alone providing rudimentary public services. Whatever public resources there are, they have not always been exploited for the benefit of all because of rampant corruption and weak institutions. Many of our young people have had difficulties accessing education and indeed employment. According to many observers, Somalia remains at the lowest rank in terms of Human Development Indexes.

Currently, because of our inability to handle our security, the United Nations Security Council has sanctioned the presence of AMISOM troops in our country.

The security threat of violent armed groups extends from bases in Somalia to the whole of the Horn of Africa region, and that constitutes the biggest obstacle for peace and security in the entire region. Since 2009, African Union forces represented by AMISOM troops (Uganda, Burundi, Kenya and Djibouti) are fighting side by side with the Somali national army to dislodge these violent armed groups. In addition, Ethiopian troops have intervened militarily in late 2006 and remain in the border regions of our country. This situation has been further complicated by persistent drought, which led to the declaration of a famine situation in five regions of Somalia in 2011. Some of these regions are yet to recover.

Somalia remains divided politically and socially because of erroneous policies of the former military regime and the shortsighted response of the armed factions, which resulted in gross violation of human rights. The concept of nation state has been gradually waning for the last 30 years and this led to a total fragmentation of our society. This is the result of failed leadership and imprudent policies that negatively impacted on our social cohesion and economic development.

Nevertheless, the situation of our country was not always like this. After independence in 1960, Somalia was one of the first democratic countries in Africa and it enjoyed such status for the first 9 of its young modern life. And in the 1970s, we made progress in different fields. Together we achieved much in the first two decades of our nationhood. There were days we felt unified. There were days we produced the food we eat and exported the surplus. There were days we exported our fruits and livestock, which brought in considerable amounts of hard currency for our nation. There were days we were entertained by our own artists and poets, our armed forces gallantly protected our borders, our religious and traditional leaders provided guidance that all of us trusted.

Brothers and sisters, we must believe that together we can change the situation we are in and that we can restore our pride and glory by standing up for justice and equality for all Somalis so that this great nation can one day be a respected member of the community of nations.

We can sum up the main challenges we face in the following:

1. Incompetent national leadership to build effective state institutions, restore cohesion in the society and revive the economy.

2. Gross mismanagement of the limited government revenues and widespread corruption to the level of topping the world corruption indexes.

3. Weak or non-existent state organs that are capable of providing basic public goods such as security, education, healthcare and infrastructure, making us lag behind all other countries in meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

4. Lack of appropriate foreign policy both at the regional and international levels.

5. Unresolved and ongoing tension between the state, Islam and clan identities.

6. Armed and violent groups that threaten the nature of the Somali state, tarnishes our Islamic values and provokes foreign interventions.

7. Piracy and organized crimes, which hamper the economy of our country, damage its international image and hinders the free flow of international trade.

Vision and Values

My vision for Somalia is the restoration of a well governed nation that is cohesive, secure and at peace with itself and with its neighbours. The renaissance of Somalia along those lines should ensure upholding basic constitutionality, Islamic principles and values, democratic ideals, territorial integrity and unity, consistent with the United Nations Charter.

1. Utmost enforcement of the Islam-compliant Somali constitution and harmonizing all the laws with the Shari’a according to the moderate interpretations of the great mainstream Muslim scholars of the past and present.

2. Supremacy of the law above all citizens, the provision of equality and justice for all, and establishing competent institutions to administer justice, and creating a Constitutional Court.

3. Promotion and protection of basic human rights principles and the promotion of human dignity and freedoms for all Somali citizens.

4. True reconciliation and peace promotion among war-torn communities based on the teachings of Islam and positive societal customs and norms.

5. Fighting all forms of mismanagement and uprooting corruption.

6. Empowerment of women and marginalized groups to take their rightful share in government institutions, economic development, employment and educational opportunities.

7. Empowerment of the youth with sense of pride and patriotism by providing them with educational opportunities, recreational activities as well employment so that they can be productive members of their society.

Platform

According to the Somali Transitional Constitution, the President is the head of state. As President, I will take special care to appoint a qualified Prime Minister who will appoint an all-inclusive team of competent ministers who share our common vision to save our country and rebuild our national institutions. This team will demonstrate the ability to implement the programs of the government which are designed to meet the basic services that our people expect from us.

My government will tackle the challenges we face by taking action in the following broad areas: good governance, enhanced internal security, appropriate foreign policy, economic revival, engagement of the Diaspora, and provision of basic services.

Good Governance

Promotion of good governance and an unrelenting fight against corruption are what Somalia needs the most at this juncture of our history. Therefore, my administration will:

1. Implement principles of good governance, accountability and transparency in all branches of the state institutions.

2. Ensure that holders of public offices and government employees exemplify national values, exhibit good governance practices and deliver services with humility and respect.

3. Encourage and strengthen professionalism and best practices in managing government operations and the civil service by avoiding nepotism, favouritism and special interest-driven appointments.

4. Create the culture of teamwork, collectivism and cooperation among national and provincial institutions.

5. Establish mechanisms whereby grievances of the people against the state institutions and holders of the public offices will be addressed promptly and justly.

Internal Security

Internal security must be understood as wide and comprehensive concepts, which include multiple sectors that address major threats, which have an impact on the lives, safety, and well being of citizens. There is also interdependence between internal and external security. Somalia being a collapsed state requires a new approach for rebuilding its internal security capabilities. To rebuild our internal security, we will:

1. Develop internal security model based on our national vision, values and respect for human dignity and protection of human rights.

2. Build national security institutions capable of granting public safety, dealing with internal security threats and ensuring the rule of law.

3. Change the conventional image of the security forces from being an oppressive apparatus of the regime to the humble servants of the people.

4. Ensure that the Somali National Defence Force (SNDF) will be apolitical and professional, not aggressive and not oppressive.

5. Provide physical, technical and trained human resource capabilities for the security institutions as well as adequate provision of all necessary resources including but not limited to salaries, benefits, and retirement pension plan.

6. Demand that national internal security personnel should reflect inclusiveness of all regions and communities and should provide equal opportunity for all the citizens.

7. Develop regional and international security cooperation linkages to deal with common threats such as violent armed groups, piracy, organized crime and drug trafficking.

Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and national security are twins and drive form each other’s imperatives. It is therefore my vision to base our foreign policy on the following principles:

1. Adopting a strategy of comprehensive peace, maintaining good relations with neighbors, and promoting a regional integration agenda among IGAD member states.

2. Improving Somalia’s tarnished world image reputed as the abode of violent armed groups and piracy by projecting the new Somalia as a responsible and respectable member state in the world community.

3. Effective participation in the regional and sub-regional organizations such as African Union (AU), Arab League (AL) and Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

4. Establishing special relations with the countries hosting sizeable Somali Diaspora communities.

Economic Recovery

The economic challenges of Somalia are multiple and include destroyed physical, human and social capital, distorted economic incentives, widespread poverty, massive unemployment and criminal networks that plunder our national resources. Thus, economic recovery policy should include restoring confidence in social, political and economic institutions. It should give priority to employment, encouraging foreign investment, and mitigating business risks. To achieve economic recovery, my government will adhere to the following guidelines:

1. Economic recovery should be based on nurturing indigenous economic drivers whereby national actors must take the lead in the economic recovery process.

2. Provision of an enabling environment and appropriate regulations for the Private Sector to flourish as the prime driver for job and wealth creation.

3. Regulation of financial sector; adoption of stringent fiscal and structural policies, control of government expenditure and audit of public finances.

4. Prudent exploitation of natural resources and opening of export markets.

5. Creating conducive environment for international investment and encouraging mixed economy.

6. Working towards the creation of free trade zones and making Somalia a business center and a gateway to African and Middle Eastern markets.

Somali Diaspora

It is estimated that more than 14% (about two million people) of Somalia’s population live outside the country. A large number of Somalis abroad live in Europe, North America, the Middle East and neighboring countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Uganda and Tanzania. According to the World Bank, the Somali Diaspora communities around the world send as remittances more than $1 billion per year and it is believed that a good percentage of that amount goes straight to Somalia with a large percentage used for monthly allowances by families of those sending the money. It is also a fact that a lot of this money goes into the private sector mainly in the shape of creation/stimulation of small businesses, purchase of properties and so on. It is therefore very vital for my government to understand the importance of the contributions made by the Diaspora communities in sustaining our nation in the last 20 years.

Being a Diaspora person myself, my government will engage all Diaspora communities around the world by emphasizing with them the vital role they play in our economy and that they will be encouraged to continue to do so. Among our priorities on the Diaspora file are:

1. Creating a ministerial position for Diaspora Affairs and representatives at Somali embassies abroad responsible to facilitate Diaspora affairs.

2. Establishing embassies and consular services and commercial attachés in the major world cities where our Diaspora is concentrated.

3. Registration of the Diaspora at the Somalia embassies in order to enable them to participate in future elections.

4. Providing special incentives for the economic projects shared by members of Somali Diaspora and foreign companies registered in their second country.

Essential Services

My government will work tirelessly to reestablish and expand basic social services, especially in the health, education and infrastructure, throughout the county.

Heath Sector

Provide primary healthcare for children and mothers with emphasis on water, sanitation and nutrition. Create and foster strong partnership with the bilateral and multilateral organizations, and various international and local NGOs with a view of creating a common strategy for the health sector. Work closely with relevant UN agencies, International NGOs, local NGO as well as local communities to revamp and take ownership of government hospitals and health centers across the country.

Education Sector

1. Collaborate with stakeholders in the education sector with a view of streamlining the education curricula for all levels of education.

2. Work closely with stakeholders in the education sector including private schools and universities on how to achieve the best ways of promoting education and learning.

3. Enforce free and compulsory primary education.

4. Take ownership of government schools across the country.

5. Prioritize the establishment of vocational training institutions to increase youth employability.

Infrastructure Development

1. Work closely with local governments, the private sector and other stake holders to establish physical infrastructure for all sectors including water wells, roads, hospitals, clinics, schools, and electricity.

2. Work closely with the telecommunication sector and improve on the reach and service delivery of the Internet, landline and mobile phone services.

3. At a minimum, my government will work towards the establishment in all districts of schools, hospitals and health clinics, district offices including district courts, and community centers.

Breaking News
Allied Forces Prepare to Seize City From Shabaab 'Within Hours'
By HAMZA DHORE 07/18/2012
TFG Soldiers (File Photo)
©Somalia Report
TFG Soldiers (File Photo)

The allied forces of Somalia, Kenya and the Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamaa militia are preparing to seize Bardere, a town in Somalia's Gedo region, from the al-Shabaab militant group 'within hours' after making advances towards the city in recent days.

As al-Shabaab sends reinforcements from Burdubo, also in Gedo, the allies are approaching from Garbaharey and Elwak and plan to encircle Bardere, according to officials and residents who spoke with Somalia Report.

Fighting on the outskirts of the city and nearby towns broken out repeatedly over the last 24 hours when the allied forces seized Jungal village, 30km from Bardere, forcing the militants to retreat to Bardere.

Guleed Ahmed, a Somali military official on the frontlines, told Somalia Report the forces are now only eight kilometers from Bardere and plan to capture it within hours.

“We defeated the enemy who was harassing the innocent people of Gedo. They lost many towns in the region since last year. They only have Bardere which we plan to liberate within the coming hours and Burdhubo which is also one of our targets. These towns are strategic ones to our forces. In the past few hour we destroyed two war vehicles of the enemy and we captured other one," said the official.

©Somalia Report

Residents report tensions are high in Bardere as many fear fighting is imminent. While many residents are starting to vacate the town, al-Shabaab fighters are preparing defenses to repel the allied advance. Land Cruisers equipped with machine guns and fighters carrying rocket propelled grenades have been seen moving throughout the town, scattering themselves in every direction.

“I believed the situation is different these days. Since last night, we have been hearing the sound of heavy guns on the outskirts of the town. We heard the allied forces are almost entering the town although the militia are making strong defenses. We don’t know how the situation play out and the many residents started packing their goods and closed up their businesses shops fearing that there will be looting after allied forces capture the town. It will be tough because al-Shabaab is well prepared and well equipped here,” said Mr. Abdille, a resident of Bardere.

Losing Bardere would be a strategic blunder for al-Shabaab, particularly after losing Garbaharey, Beledhawao and Luq. The militia is doing its best to defend Bardere by re-strategizing and collecting their fighters from all over Gedo region to help defend the city from the allied advances.

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