In 1991 when Somalis experienced what Professor Ahmed Samatar calls ‘the death of the national state‘, a few Somalis could foresee that it would take Somalia twenty-five years to discuss the possibility of holding one man one vote elections in 2016. It is not a mean achievement in the context of the conflicting priorities of the Somalia’s international partners and the need of Somalis for effective state institutions and a democratic leadership.
Four years ago the British government organised London Conference on Somalia; it energised Somali politics and gave hope to Somalis about the end of the transition and the rebirth of a permanent Somali government ‘in September 2012’. This optimism was based on the realisation that Somali political problems require a global response. At the centre of this strategy was a commitment to helping Somalia raise funds for reconstruction and institution-building.
“Our aim is to have mechanisms in place for reducing corruption, rebuilding trust and ensuring that Somali and donor funds are properly and transparently spent on providing services to the Somali people,” wrote William Hague, the former Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, in the Globe and the Mail. In May 2013, when the British government organised a follow-up conference in London, “the international community endorsed those plans and committed expertise and funding of over $300m to he international community endorsed those plans and committed expertise and funding of over $300m to deliver them.. [ after ] Somali Government ministers shared detailed plans for developing the country’s armed forces, police, justice sector and public financial management systems. They also agreed to work together through joint funding mechanisms, with the Federal Government taking the lead on coordination“.
The Somali Federal Government has not achieved the stated goals. The Somali National Army is still dependent on clan militias; the justice sector has barely made headway in addressing dispossession and human rights violations partly because the Federal Government ignored the transitional justice processes the UN Security Council had called for shortly after parliamentarians elected President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in September 2012.
The Somali Federal Government leaders committed themselves to “the path of reconciliation and reconstruction and establishing capable, accountable and inclusive Somali security institutions that provide protection for all people, in particular, women and children” as a part of the New Deal Compact endorsed at A New Deal for Somalia Conference held in Brussels in September 2013. Government infighting in 2013 and 2014 derailed goals outlined in the New Deal communique.
If the Somali Federal Government used sovereignty argument to bypass the Joint Financial Management Board, it was for the international community to clarify that withholding of funds raised for the reconstruction of Somalia was caused by Somali federal leaders, who reneged on their promise to use the joint funding mechanisms aimed at ensuring transparency.
As Sarah Chayes of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace argued, there is a causal relationship between corruption and extremism.
Although government corruption costs lives, and deprives Somali people of opportunities to rebuild their country with funds from Somalia’s generous friends, the international community has empowered the Federal Government to impose a top-down electoral model on Somalis to give the incumbent leaders a better chance to return to power.
The international community must stand with the Somali people, not with leaders who have no interests of their people at heart.