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The host of the 2nd Somalia National Conference was Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Mohamud Farole with TFG President Sheik Sharif Sheikh Ahmed taking the lead on structuring the document.
This second meeting was designed to move the June 2011, Kampala Accord along. The Kampala Accord was created after the UN took the TFG leadership out to the woodshed with Ugandan President Museveni and reminded them who was in charge. The machinations of Speaker Hassan had virtually shut down the UN created TFG and the recently hired prime minister was sent packing.
A New Federal Patchwork
The focus is on structuring a federal government and dismantling the Mogadishu-centric system that has created over a dozen autonomous, breakaway or dissident regions by it's lack of engagement. That lack of engagement and forward movement combined with recent squabbling has led to a high level of odd players shaping Somalia's future. Puntland has also capitalized on the TFG's failure to become the axis around which the wheel of forward movement is now rotating.
The first meeting was held over a three day period from December 21 -24 and provoked anger from the TFG when they realized they were simply being ignored by a hand picked group of Somali leaders. It is clear that the United States, the UN and outside donors are simply steamrolling the dysfunctional TFG by banking on leaders who know how to play the Western game of compromise.
The players are the current TFG president, speaker of the house, and prime minister along with the presidents of Puntland and Galmudug, the pro-government Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamaa militia, and the UN’s Augustine Mahiga. These seven men who range from democratically elected politicans to bureaucrats are the de facto rulers of Somalia. Putting time, money and energy into willing players is not a bad thing but it is sure to provoke an angry response from the hundreds of other politicians and clan leaders shut out.
A Somali Solution
President Farole made it very clear that these meetings demonstrated that Somalis can meet inside their own country and form substantive legal structures, a welcome change from endless TFG boondoggles at five star foreign hotels.
What may be problematic is the new willingness to completely ignore previously agreed legal structures.
For example, treating the TFG like truculent preschoolers, “rehatting” an aggressive Kenyan invasion into an African Union peacekeeping mission (AMISOM), treating Galmadug as a state and pretending that Somaliland doesn’t exist are just four ugly constitutional gorillas in the room.
Somalia’s stakeholders are clearly pushing for a federal system that minimized Mogadishu’s role and puts more authority into the hinterlands. Puntland President Farole has taken a strong lead in wresting the focus from the south and towards the north. The promise of oil, Gulf focused trade and the coming influx of anti piracy money will also push Puntland into focus. Somalia Report has also learned that President Farole has presidential ambitions in the national arena. These meetings and the focus on moving away from the 4.5 clan system and towards federalism are are ideal platforms for his election bid. If he fails in becoming the president, then he will run in the later Puntland elections.
What has been agreed to is that a Lower House will be based on the archaic “4.5 clan” system for the next four years. After that period democratic vote will erase this system and create voter constituencies. Most of the heavy lifting will be done by an Upper House consisting of representatives selected from the Federal States. These new princes will shape the future of Somalia. The goal is to balance the broad demographic base with the federal needs and ideally to vanish clan based conflicts. As a nod to donors' Western agenda, it was agreed that 50 women will be included in the parliament over the next four years.
A quick review of the document clearly shows Puntland’s muscle. Federal states will be based pretty much on Puntland with Galmudug being urged to actually create a legal system using outside assistance. It is still up in the air whether a British parliamentary system or a U.S. style electoral system will be adopted.
Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) will be the power brokers in the short term. These 10 men and five women will appoint a government based on the 4.5 clan model and surprisingly will include non-voting “international actors”. The bar is pretty low to join the IIEC. Being Somali, patriotic, having a secondary education and not having a criminal record is about all you need to join.
The National Constituent Assembly (NICA) or Lower House will be 1,000 clan based members of which 300 must be women. The Federal Parliament or Upper House will be 225 members that will accept up to 54 states based on a “future configuration”.
Divide and conquer from within and without seems to be the new rule in Somalia. This bodes badly for Somaliland who already has breakaway regions on its extreme east and west looking for recognition. Surprisingly, “Not declared mentally incompetent” is one of the criteria for this group. Some of the deadlines agreed to are April 1 for a constitution, August 20 for a permanent government.
What is not on this agreement is a clear picture of what Somalia will look like come August. How exactly does Somalia look like without the influence of clan (even though most boundaries were clan-based). How does al-Shabaab fit into the picture, and exactly how grass roots are the claims of autonomy going to get once the federal system is fully adopted by the myriad of clan based breakaway regions? If Somalia’s past history is an indication the transition back into statehood will neither be easy or without surprises.