Background:Presidential Platforms
Platform of a Presidential Candidate
Candidate Abdirahman Abdishakur
By MOHAMED ODOWA 07/12/2012
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 first of the candidates who spoke to Somalia Report is Abdirahman Abdishakur and this is his message. This comes as part of our reports on who is running for president and Somalia's political parties.

Abdirahman Abdishakur
Abdirahman Abdishakur

Profile

In declaring my interest to contest for the presidency, I claim no special status or miraculous powers. The presidency is not an entitlement owed to me by society by dint of birth, lineage or pedigree. It is not a status I seek so as to go on an ego trip and satisfy a power-lust. I come to you in great humility as a servant of the people. What I offer you is a burning ambition and a genuine desire to end the tragic conflict in our homeland; a will to reorient politics and the institutions of state to serve the greater good, thereby helping to transform the lives of our people for the better. I offer you a public record of integrity and service to the nation and a commitment to fairness, social justice and an inclusive democratic dispensation.

I was born 1968 to an ordinary family and lived an ordinary life, sharing in the common joys and hardships of life. I left the country in 1999 to pursue studies abroad. I graduated from the International University of Africa in 1997 with a degree of and I did Master of Laws at National University of Malaysia.

I settled in the UK, and it was there that I developed an interest in social and community work. I was an active member of the Somali Diaspora community, run community welfare and media outreach projects and managed the Muslim Welfare Centre in London.

Burdened by the crises in our homeland, like many of my peers and members of my generation I saw my role as that of a catalyst for changing perceptions; reviving hope; raising the political consciousness of our people and harnessing their energy to serve the goals of peace, enlightened politics and national reconciliation.

I look back to those years of community activism in the UK with great pride. My conviction and faith in the intrinsic goodness of our people and hope in their capacity to surmount their challenges was reinforced. I formed great professional and personal friendships; accumulated many of the key leadership and managerial experiences; learnt valuable political lessons and picked the set of skills which I would later draw upon when I left the UK to join active politics in Somalia.

I served as Chief Negotiator and Deputy Chairman of the ARS during the landmark Djibouti talks (2008-2009) which ultimately led to the formation of the current TFG. It was a difficult period and my task was especially tricky. I had to constantly navigate around powerful vested interests and seek to harmonize and narrow viewpoints. It was there I learnt one of the salient truths of modern politics – that politics cannot be conducted as a zero-sum game. It was about making painful compromises and concessions in the interest of achieving a workable formula to advance of our collective and strategic goals – peace, national reconciliation and an inclusive, democratic and functional government.

It was in the interest of advancing these goals that I agreed to join the post-Djibouti government as an MP and in the cabinet as Planning and International Cooperation Minister. Despite my eagerness to serve and despite sharing in the general optimism our country had turned a corner, I quickly realized to my huge disappointment we had made a wrong turn and veered off course. We were not making any headway. Our political project had stalled. We were increasingly fragmented and factionalized. The public had quickly turned against us and we had little or no claim to credibility and legitimacy. Poorly-led and mismanaged, the ship of government had run aground. Frustrated by my inability to influence or change things and unable to stomach all what was happening or tacitly take responsibility, I decided to resign.

Despite leaving government, I have remained an ordinary member of parliament. I continue to preach and practice constructive politics - maintaining respect for the state and its institutions; engaging in dialogue with civic groups and political formations; and working with other like-minded brothers and sisters to seek solutions to our crises and help advance the reform agenda.

Background

After the collapse of the central Somali state in 1991, the country quickly descended into a decade-long state of clan-based factionalism. A bitter civil war ensued; hundreds of thousands perished; law and order broke down completely and a poisonous cocktail of mistrust and chauvinism undermined societal cohesion and peaceful coexistence among the clans. It took 10 years before the first serious attempt was made to fix the country. In 2000, Somali leaders meet in the town of Arta, Djibouti, and agreed on the rudiments of new governance structures and a new political dispensation that was eventually to give birth to the system of transitional governments, as we know it today. It is today 10 years since the start of the cycle of transitional governments. The common denominator of all transitional government is the failure to realize the transitional tasks, primarily restoration of security and establishment of law and order; completion of the reconciliation process; adoption of a new constitution and preparation for free and fair elections; rebuilding of state institutions and; facilitating and easing humanitarian aid operations and the flow of financial resources meant for development.

Somalia enters another difficult decade – the third since 1991 – and we are, once again, on the threshold of another transitional government completing its mandate. The current TFG completes its mandate in August 2012 with little to show for its record in office. The regime has come to epitomize leadership incompetence; corruption and lack of integrity and political vision. Its public approval rating and credibility has remained abysmal. Al-Shabaab is today weaker than it has ever been. It is severely cash-strapped and its military capabilities continue to diminish. Importantly, it has lost moral authority and legitimacy. There is uncertainty of who will fill the gap left by al-Shabaab. Faction leaders fronting for clan and/or sectarian religious interests, or else the civic voice of Somalis who believe in democratic values. It depends on what kind of leadership will emerge after August 2012. Our vision is to lead in shaping the critical new reforms needed and ensure that reforms reflect popular will and consent; serve the nation’s best interest and meet the people’s aspirations and their realistic expectations.

We must work together in full concert to bring about a modern Somali state; a democratic and just society, free of clan chauvinism and religious extremism; and a constitution that reflects the aspirations of the Somali people and one that is based on their values.

Political Program

Aware that Somalia is at a critical juncture and crossroads; that a golden chance exists to advance the goals of reforms; that failure to seize it will irreparably harm the prospects for change; we hereby wish to unveil a political vision and programme to save the nation and calls upon the people of Somalia and all the well-meaning friends of the country to offer their moral and material support to this cause.
Vision

To create a Somali society free of clan identity politics, violence and religious extremism; imbued with a sense of national identity and civic consciousness; capable of discharging its national duties and responsibilities; upholds justice and dignity for all and at peace with itself and its neighbours.

Mission

To create of a modern state based on civic and democratic principles; one committed to upholding basic freedoms and social justice; overcoming clan chauvinism and deepening societal cohesion and unity; and implements a genuine devolution of power through the bottom-up administrative system.

General Principles

· Safeguard the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Somali nation and people;

· Respond to and seek to realize the aspirations of the Somali people;

· Revive national consciousness, cohesion and peaceful coexistence among the Somali people;

· Fight corruption, nepotism, clannism, extremism and the abuse of state powers and resources;

· Protect and uphold the fundamental rights of the citizens and fight impunity and abuse of human rights;

Close Objectives

· Restore security, law and order and has to be done through a comprehensive well-conceived national security action plan, whose aim is to guide and speed up the ongoing security sector reform (SSR); create specialized agencies to tackle serious crimes, such as piracy, people smuggling and kidnap-for-ransom; and create the mechanisms to encourage voluntary DDR (disarmament, demobilization and rehabilitation);

· Rebuild state institutions especially those that play critical financial and administrative functions;

· Build, strengthen and improve regional administrations, with due emphasis on the principles of viability, inclusivity and local legitimacy;

· Strengthen reconciliation and combat the culture of intransigence and use of force to achieve political aims;

· Prepare a political plan for achieving responsible transition, aspects of which must include: adoption of a permanent constitution; conduct of a national population census; adoption of new electoral laws , draft new laws on political parties and strengthen the democratic process; and the holding of free and fair elections at national provincial and district levels;

· Encourage genuine devolution and emergence of viable regional administrations in a consensual manner, aware the current free-for-all scramble to create clan-based administrations could set the stage for renewed conflict and instability;

· Restore the image and credibility of the Somali government, both at home and abroad

· Improve and restore health to Somalia’s relations with its neighbours and enhance international cooperation and partnership, in the interest of wider peace and stability in the Horn of Africa

· Mobilize all the vital and influential segments of Somali society and harness the expertise of moderate Muslim scholars to launch a nationwide counter-radicalisation campaign aimed at popularizing the traditional Somali values of moderation, tolerance and peaceful coexistence;

· Encourage the emergence of a healthy and well-regulated market economy, by properly harnessing and channelling the entrepreneurial energy of the Somali people and attracting greater investment.

Building Public Institutions

Somalia after having experienced about two decades of continuous civil war, which led to the destruction of the country’s basic infrastructure, public institutions and the social networks to the collapse of the state. The establishment of credible governance and public administration institutions and systems is a critical determinant of sustainable recovery, peace, and development. It needs to be emphasized that at the centre of credible public administration is an effective Public Service, whether understood as an institution, an organization structure, a cadre of public officials, or simply as the service provided by a public authority.

Therefore, a capable public service has a greater bearing on recovery than is generally recognized, both in terms of delivering aid and basic services and in rebuilding national cohesion and the credibility, legitimacy, and trust of government Institutions, systems, structures and processes, as well as the actors that constitute the public service as the human component of the national public administration system, are the only dynamic and sustainable factor that can provide initial support and eventually take over and implement emergency as well as longer-term reconstruction activities within all sectors of society.

The public service is particularly important in planning, implementing and sustaining service delivery, revitalizing the economy, and ensuring security. But, one of the key, and perhaps under-appreciated elements of recovery, involves the human and social dimensions of rebuilding trust in government. How the public service is restructured and how it is redesigned to function becomes one of the most visible ways in which government interfaces with its populace. This gives the public service a much greater role in and influence on social cohesion and development.

Security and Rule of Law

The main objective is to establish a legitimate monopoly on force and law enforcement that provide a secure environment for the fulfillment of the rights of all Somalis, ensuring freedom for people, goods and ideas as well as social and economic development. Our vision of security, however, is broader than the services provided by the security sector to the citizens. Security of livelihood is critical to our endeavor, to eliminate poverty, to provide social justice, remove barriers to inclusion and to create a society where all citizens are provided with access to equality of opportunity.

A well functioning security force is vital for the maintenance of peace and security, and enforcement of the rule of law. In the past two decades the Somali public security system disappeared from the earth to the point where the “Government” or its alike was unable to guarantee its citizens personal security, and that of their property. This has emerged because of the proliferation of arms, corruption and mismanagement of resources by a group of warlords, clan militias and alike who delegitimized the state and its infrastructure. We will provide security with the direct support of AMISOM and international community. And will focus on the following key areas:

- Disbanding all illegal armed groups in all parts of Somalia and train and integrate outlawed militias in the national security forces or in productive life;

- Improvement of coordination and communication among the various institutions dealing with security to enhance effective management of security at large;

- Capacity building: intensify training of security staff and provision of necessary equipment;

- Reform and build an effective police force supported by good intelligence and a fair judiciary. Effective intelligence operations can detect insurgent threats to the government and population before a mature insurgency materialises. How the government subsequently deals with these insurgents is equally important. An impartial, incorrupt judiciary must support the police and government policies in order to ensure fairness under the law;

- Enhancement of security along the borders to address proliferation of arms and illicit activities;

- Reviving the judicial system through a program that provides training, makes laws and precedents available to all parts of the system, and rehabilitates the physical infrastructure and equipment of the judicial sector.

Building Somali National Army

All indications point to the fact that the military structures of the Transitional Government have crumbled. Many rank-and-file soldiers have left the military over issues of broken promises, unpaid allowances, and allegations of corruption among senior commanders. Somali Government want an international commitment and real partner to help formation of National Army and enhancing short- and longer-term security in Somalia through a programme aimed at training, equipping and advising government forces. This programme is to involve the integration of AMISOM and international military advisors into Somali forces; close co-ordination with AMISOM and the SNA; and the enhancement of the combat effectiveness of the forces through ongoing advice and training. The armed forces and infantry training centre should be established outside of Mogadishu.

Senior Somali officer with help of AMISOM and international military advisors has to undertake a series of induction and training programs. The basic training should provide at least 10,000 soldiers (including maritime wings) with more specialised training to a smaller number in logistics, communications, command and control, and other techniques.

The training programme and assistance has to entail more than military training: it should cover every aspect of security sector reform. It has to involve a complete reconstruction of the Ministry of defence and the military apparatus. This means building a culture of loyalty, service and respect for human rights within the armed forces, but it also means a complete departmental overhaul to ensure appropriate civilian oversight and probity.

Governance

Most of the problems baffling Somalia and its citizens arise from the many year of bad governance and mismanagement of public resources. All government institutions lack the capacity to provide basic services to the wider population but are facing similar challenges such as the lack of adequate administrative infrastructure, systems and policy and the absence of a civil service system. Finally, the lack of financial resources to attract qualified Somalis is hampering many of the processes that could support progress in the above. To strengthen public administration, reform public financial management, rebuild the infrastructure, develop human resource capacity. This cannot be done unless there is coordinated and timely support of international assistance and technical support to the government of Somalia in order to establishment of effective institution which is critical to the long term functionality of state institution.

Our aim is to focus on to enhancing governance, by establishing and strengthening key government institutions at both central and local levels in order to achieve measurable improvement in the delivery of services and the protection of rights of all the Somalis. We will priorities the following key areas:

- Government machinery ministries, departments etc, will be restructured and rationalized to ensure fiscally sustainable public administration;

- Civil Service Commission will be enhanced and its functions reformed to reflect the core functions and responsibilities of each institution;

- Clear and transparent appointment/recruitment mechanism will be established and applied;

- Government security and law enforcement agencies will adopt corrective measures, such as code of conduct and procedures aimed at preventing arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, extortion and illegal expropriation of property in a view to the elimination of these practices;

- The Ministers and Parliamentarians will undertake visioning workshop/Retreats. And this is about bringing together sectors (public, private, and civil society), to enhance trust in government through collaboration and information sharing as well as ownership of objectives and understanding of the various obstacles that face government in its work to develop the country;

- The top civil servants will take part compulsory capacity building and training programme from basic management of organisation theory, administrative communication, accountability, delegation, supervisory management, planning, organisational control, motivation, to high level visioning and strategic planning workshops;

- To institutionalize of corruption prevention through formation of Anti Corruption Commission. And the objectives include, among others, to provide a mechanism for the coordination of anti-Corruption programmes in Government Ministries, Departments, Agencies and the Private Sector. Another objective at Institutional level is to enhance transparency and accountability in the exercise of Public authority, and streamline cumbersome bureaucratic and complex procedures in public service delivery;

- To develop a concept of ‘embedded support’, where a team of highly-motivated practical people with proven track records – bankers, diplomats, civil servants, doctors and soldiers – drawn from both inside and outside the country is put together to work with and alongside the host government’s departments and agencies over a period long enough to teach and train indigenous successors. Donors would agree to devolve responsibility for helping the country to this single team working throughout the government. Crucially, this demonstration of long-term and coherent commitment by the international community, and the high quality of the implementation team, would serve as a vital confidence-building catalyst to inward commercial and industrial investment.

Somali Revenue Authority

In order to improve resource mobilisation capacity while providing the public with better quality and courteous services and assist taxpayers in understanding and meeting their tax obligations, we will first time introduce Somali Revenue Authority. This new commission will be responsible of collecting, and accounting for tax, customs and other specified revenues through effective administration and enforcement of the laws relating to those revenues. In addition, it is mandate will include collecting non-tax revenues. SRA would have the responsibility for providing advice to the Government on tax policy matters relating to revenue collections. The SRA will have three main divisions; 1- Custom Davison 2- domestic Tax Revenue Division 3- Support Service Division. The Authority will be headed by commissioner general appointed by the Prisident with advise of Prime Minister. And the objective of the SRA are to:

- Ensure greater accountability to Government for the professional management of tax administration and provide for other matters related to the improvement of revenue administration;

- Provide one stop service for taxpayers for the submission of return and payment of taxes and provide common tax procedures that enable tax payers to be governed by single set of rules;

- Reduce administrative and tax compliance cost and provide better service to taxpayers and promote efficient collection and the equitable distribution of tax burden and ensure greater transparency and integrity;

- Integrate the management of domestic Tax and Customs;

- Modernize Domestic Tax and Custom operations through the review of processes and procedures;

- Provide a holistic approach to tax and customs administration.

Reconciliation

There is a consensus in Somali society: violence as a means of compelling the majority to submit to the will of a minority must end. The people’s aspirations must be represented and reflected in an accountable government that delivers value on a daily basis. This consensus forms the foundation for a vision of a prosperous and secure Somalia. This vision of a peaceful and prosperous future is a beacon that can mobilize the energies of an enterprising and independent people, guide them in their collective and individual pursuits, and reinforce the sense of national unity, mutual dependence and participation in a common enterprise. The mandate of every transitional administration is to bring people together and reconcile among themselves. To broaden the base of national reconciliation efforts by reaching out to Somali community including clans and religious leaders, women’s group, the business community, the Diaspora and local and regional administration. To achieve this we will priorities the following key areas:

- To Institutionalize Traditional leaders to play pivotal role in reconciliation and reach out;

- Laying out a comprehensive plan for social reconciliation and promotion of a peace agenda. To bring into play Somalia traditional means of conflict resolution;

- Bottom up approach of building local legitimacy based on social reconciliation, establishing traditional council and forming inclusive layers of local administrations. Governor, the leader of the provisional council, the chief of police, and the head of intelligence and security service;
- Develop strategic plan of reconciliation and reintegration. Many of the insurgency is motivated by greed rather than by ideology so it is necessary for integration for lower level fighters and reconciliation with more senior commanders.

Humanitarian

We are still in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. We are keenly aware of the needs and conditions of our vulnerable people. We must priorities and take immediate action in the following areas: Refugees and returnees; between 1.5 to 2m refuges are expected to return to their homes, along with hundred thousands of internally displaced. A systematic and integrated approach will be required if we are to help them re-integrate safely and develop secure livelihoods rather than end up in shanty towns.

Education

After years of neglect and worse, education will be the foundation of economic growth and poverty reduction. Vocational training is a priority. Health and nutrition will require massive and long-term investment. Two areas need particularly urgent attention, malnutrition and better obstetric care that will bring down the unacceptably high levels of maternal and infant mortality rates. Somalis have shown a remarkable ability to survive in the face of disaster, but there is a need to invest in livelihoods to facilitate our enterprise in the search for a good living.

(Editor's note: Somalia Report does not endorse one candidate over another.)