Somalia:The political conflict in Somalia

Wednesday June 23, 2010 - 23:17:04 in Featured Items by Super Admin
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    Somalia:The political conflict in Somalia

    By Prof. Omar Mohamed Addou

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By Prof. Omar Mohamed Addou After a bloody civil war, foreign occupation and the continuing massacres, the Somali people, although tired and exhausted, do not abandon the hope and the ambition to strive for a better future.

Unfortunately after a period of continuous wars in which all energies have been spent, there is a feeling of tiredness. That state of affair is reinforced by the sensation of absolute illegality and that is added to the violence and continuing looting which spared no one.

The armed conflict, in Somalia, has roots in the political history of our country. In fact it is part of long political, economic and social anguish with the underlying causes of social injustice due to tribal unbalance in the State institutions and government apparatus. It is essential, in the future, to avoid the past mistakes.

Security and normality are basic requirement of the moment. But the Somali people do not want stability at every cost. Security and normality should find their natural place in equality and justice; otherwise they will not be lasting.

The death of many innocent civilians will not be in vane only if the living continues to struggle for the change of mentality and new ways to solve the  problems.

The main objective of the armed struggle in Somalia must be nothing less than the realization of the justice and equality of all citizens. The end of the hostility can be seen as the first step toward the national reconciliation, the foundation of a new Republic and toward the reconstruction and management of the peace.

To arrive at a positive result it is necessary to remake our legal system by overcoming the tribal formula. We must not forget that it was tribalism which marked the end of the rule of law.

In the minds of the ordinary people must be clear the distinction between tribal and State institutions.  Right from the beginning, the social groups sustained the necessity of a political solution. This common view neither guaranteed sound relations nor peaceful coexistence because of the strumental use the of the phenomenon “tribalism”.

The sufferings and the social injustices are still alive in the memories of the survivors. But the overwhelming majority of the Somali people are convinced and conscious that it would be unjust to harbor hatred and hard feeling towards a person because of his/her tribal membership, on the understanding that criminal responsibility remains personal.

It is clear that the present situation of confrontation, in Somalia, needs a new approach. If our statements in public are true that the present situation of conflict and status quo are not sustainable, then a national reconciliation is the only way-out for the safeguard of the unity and overcoming of the crisis, without transforming the country into many little (small) tribal states. Only the way to democracy and political pluralism will bring us a just solution. It is time to give the word to the people, depositary of the national sovereignty. Today the factions, be they religious or tribal, have become a reality. Why not integrate the factions in a framework of a democratic system? It is about channeling these religious factions into political parties. This approach will serve to mitigate the hostilities which caused lost of human lives, suffering and destructions.

We know that the tribal and religious alliances a precarious. But in politics alliances and coalitions are often necessary. Integrating the factions into political parties allows us to seek alliances outside the tribal boundaries. It is not enough that the parties call themselves parties. It is absolutely necessary that they have general objectives, political platforms, identities and specificities which distinguish them each from the other. Furthermore, the factions must seek legitimacy in the consensus of the group they represent. Anyway these religious factions, to continue be protagonists of the political life of the country, must they demonstrate the capacity and courage to change by adopting rules and reveal the will to follow the way of democracy and renounce violence.

Prospects for the future

In this moment it is urgent to explain to the entire Somali people, with due seriousness and objectivity the terms of the problem. The Somali society is threatened and endangered by the antagonism and tribal and religious factions. What we have in Somalia is a leadership crisis.  It is this which triggered the power struggle and lies at the heart of political conflict.

In the absence of a political memo between the religious factions and the civil society, the tensions are destined to increase and the situation will worsen day after day.

Now is the time to organize a Conference of national unity and reconciliation. In preparation of the conference it is necessary to avoid the past mistakes. In particular, it would be appropriate that the conference be preceded by formal and informal contacts between the parties in conflict.

The supreme authority of the nation must be represented by a conference that consists of representatives of the religious factions, civil society organizations and intellectuals and traditional leaders.

The conference should address the crucial issues; discuss the root causes of conflict and to propose remedies to prevent them in future.

The discussions must focus on ideas and come up with solutions that shall be acceptable to the majority consensus and most advantageous and appropriate to the country. The participants of the conference must have sufficient legitimacy to represent their respective groups.

After an exchange of views, they shall assess the overall situation of the country. And even before addressing the issues of substance, it will be desirable to deal with procedural issues and then agree on an agenda.

The objectives of such a conference could be summarized:

    * The formation of a government of national unity;
    * Establish the criteria for the formation of the National Council that shall, in addition to serving as a brake to the excesses of the transitional government, act as a legislative assembly;
    * The formulation of clear principles for the drafting of a constitution;
    * And the recognition of a role for an independent judiciary in managing the transition.

Currently there is a situation of extreme gravity in which neither the Transitional Government nor the Transitional Parliament function properly.

Therefore, it would be necessary to form a strong government of technicians.
This last is necessary because the weakness of any government expressed by heterogeneous groups is inherent in the nature of a coalition tribal government which would definitely weaken the best energy in an exhausting search for balance between different and opposing tendencies, a luxury that we cannot afford.
The expectation is that the various social groups during the Conference prescribe the principles and criteria of activity to be delegated to the executive. To restore some order and legality it would necessary to confer the government the powers it needs for that purpose. But these powers will be subject to certain limits. The Transitional Government would be assigned a deadline, according to the agreed program, to carry out its activities in defined areas.

Any exceptional powers, granted to the Transitional Government, would not be compatible with too many limitations. That is to say that it is necessary to give the government all the powers it needs to deal with the state of war and disorder.

In short, the conferral of these powers and the limits imposed therein shall give the government a margin of discretion, so that its legitimate interventions may allow it to respond to events and unforeseen imperatives. That government should feel entitled to exercise the exceptional powers, so long the disorders continue. And with the expiry of the deadline set for it, the legitimacy of the powers themselves will cease. It is true that without the authority of the State men do not bow in front of what reason and justice require.

 The development of public forces, that ensure the internal and external security, is a priority.
In fact, if there is no effective control of territory and cannot rely on obedience of the law by citizens, it would be impossible to establish a lasting peace.
It would be the task of the transitional government to form a public force that that is strong enough to enforce law and order. These forces, upon which will be entrusted the implementation of the disarmament of the population, shall be enrolled throughout the various regions of the country and that is to overcome the fear of tribal domination. Guidance of this force must be entrusted to the old officers of the previous armed forces not involved in tribal wars.

It would be necessary to dissolve and combat armed gangs. It is also necessary to establish and strengthen the military efficiency, by paying and disciplining the soldiers.
In a crisis time like this, the military is a sanatorium instrument.
The usual possession of arms and ammunition means that a considerable number of people have become accustomed to arms and that caused the dissatisfaction of people.
Disarmament is the only thing that allows the government to defend the safety of the population and property, but that is not enough and it is also needed the implementation of a just economic policy and social justice that could help combat banditry.
Currently, a number of people found in the arms in their possession the strength to live even if outside of legality.
The transitional government should centralize all the various political and military activities, in order to give the central and peripheral organs a unity of direction.

Even if said Government cannot take care of all of our problems, nevertheless it shall have the task of helping us overcome the crisis, managing well the transition of the new order.

Any Government and specially the transitional one, to deserve the trust and the approval of the people, should maintain its promises.  The Government must make a census of the population of Somalia.  The census constitutes the base for a political pluralism and the reconstruction of the country.

To have a healthy political life, it is necessary to carry out the population census in order to know the consistency of it and the choice of each citizen.  Conducting the census would require materials means, technical assistance and suitable climate to carry out.  The general elections should be held in presence of international observers.

Waiting for a Parliament elected by universal suffrage, it is recommended that the legislative function and control of the government be entrusted to a Council.

Finally, the opposition in our country has always been marginalized and deprived of a place in the political, economic and social life. The result was a disaster for the country.

Now that we are going to reform the political order it is of utmost importance to establish an opposition with a clear role. It must be an opposition that will seize all the reasons and hardships of the common people, and ensure them by giving them a voice, without ever losing its constructive character.
The discussion of the national issues requires tolerance and pluralism. It also requires the ability to think and not exacerbate the differences of opinions and never call into question the state, its functions, the reasons for its existence.

If that opposition is not established, the latter will not only work clandestinely and violently, but whoever is in power has no guarantee. Once he/she leaves the power he/she will not be safe from the persecution of his former victims.
Only a fair political struggle between opposition and government can prepare a healthy political life.
First of all, it should be established, by mutual agreement, the rules of the political game which, to be respected, requiring a guarantor above the parties. This guarantor can only be an independent judiciary conscious of its role. Of course a similar role requires a particular sensitivity.
The sovereignty belongs to the people and we must lay the legal basis and the culture to defend it so that no-one can exercise without the consent of the people. And whoever does that is an impostor, and as such, must be combated by all means, including the use of force.

In concluding this part, I feel obliged to appeal to the conscience of my fellow citizens, asking them to demonstrate their sense of responsibility to exercise their right and duty to help solve the political crisis without turning this into an instrument of division, insult, and slander.
In fact the solution is within us and not elsewhere. The hope is that Somalia, such as Rwanda and Liberia, find the unity and to survive in the spirit of reconciliation.

Remaking of the Somali state and its structure

As regards the future structure of the state, the choice would fall on one the following alternatives:

    * A unitary State;
    * A federal state ( a state composed of a number of states;
    * Finally, a unitary state in which other political centers coexist (autonomous regions).

Now we would explore the form of state most appropriate and suitable to the specific conditions of our national and regional community. To give an answer to this need, what comes in mind is the question of the future structure of our Republic.

 We know that Somalia since independence unified and centralized. The legislative power was concentrated in a single national parliament, just as there was an executive that from the center through local offices, administered with absolute uniformity. And finally, there was one judiciary from the Supreme Court was divided by grade in the Appellate Courts, Regional Courts and District Courts. This was the form of direct state and alongside which there were many municipal governments and autonomous bodies. The unity and the centrality of the State presented the following characters:

    * denied regions the power to self-regulate and self-govern, in other words, it retained jurisdiction of the state ordering, structure, and the determination of the tasks of the regions, adopted uniformly throughout the country, so that all districts large and small, were organized in the same way;
    * For municipalities, there was a small and limited financial autonomy. The proceeds of taxes the local taxes were not sufficient to organize the necessary services. But It formed the basis for an autonomous budget, which was done to remedy the use of a grant from the State Treasury, which was a burden on the central government;
    * The uniform policy of the state introduced by the repressive military regime (21 October 1969), the abolition of the elective system, replaced with that of appointments from above, and the hierarchical nature that the organization of a single party, was reproduced in all public administrations, which have helped to stifle any expression of autonomy (including administrative one). Consequently, the government administration was concentrated in the capital (Mogadishu).

To avoid repetition of the mistakes of previous governments, today we all agree the need to reform the Somali Republic on the new and secure basis. At this point, comes to mind a question of obligation: May we assume that the unitary and centralized structure, responsive to the needs of our Nation?
To answer this question, we shall try to analyze each of the alternatives that we have previously mentioned.
Somalia, after the proof of the terrible civil war, aspires to a democratic life. However, the confusion and the passage of time can wear out our efforts and intentions.
The fact is that if we are to avert the danger of an authoritarian state, we must undertake a radical reform to stimulate the efficiency of the new Constitutional organs and especially the Legislature. In other words, it is imperative caution ourselves against the prevailing tendency or predisposition in the Somali society to a new dictatorship, like that of previous periods. And here is to calculate that if the government's many tasks and intends exercise with a centralizing system, the likelihood of a restoration of an authoritarian power is a risk that will be always present.

As you know, the Somali political crisis was further exacerbated and complicated by the unilateral declaration of the North (Somaliland). In this regard, there is the view that the insistence of Somaliland to maintain secession be avoided with a form of federal state. This view is in itself respectable, and perhaps could be taken to the future parliament as motion and submitted to a popular referendum, to give popular approval and due regard must be given to wish of the people concerned. However, the transformation of the Somalia Republic into a federal state, in my opinion, does not seem commensurate with the demands autonomous occurring within the Somali people. Requests autonomous in our country, although legitimate, it seems to me, aims to change the structure of center that is proven unfit and inadequate for our country. This aim can be achieved within a unitary state. In fact at a time like this, where you dropped the order, it seems appropriate and at the same time realistic to think that only a state with a unitary structure can maintain the existence of the Somali state, the unity of the Somali people and for it its independence.

Currently, many of our fellow countrymen have become the selfish, not heeding the laws and authority of the state. In other words, they seem to have lost the sense of the state. For this, I believe that only with a strong unitary state can lead to reason and obedience to the law and a different option will increase the current mess.
So, the objectives are achieved by two ways: to limit the powers of central government and to recognize and protect the interests of the regions of ensuring them the financial autonomy and the solemn observance of the principle of self-government, through a clear division of responsibility between the state and the regions. This seems the only way to meet the aspirations autonomous, otherwise irrepressible.

As far as the dosage of autonomy is concerned, I suggest for the North a greater and more effective autonomy. This option takes into account the fact that the North before joining the union was an independent and sovereign state with a different colonial experience. It is true that we are in the absence of the ethnic and geographical reasons that could justify the federal state, but greater autonomy is one of their sacred rights.

The role of the International Community

Today, in Somalia, we do not have the political, economic and social conditions necessary for a gradual recovery of the country. In other words, our country does not present any of the requirements for a life of work and reconstruction. The war continues to make its victims, while more than two millions of Somali citizens are refugees in various parts of the world. The economic output is almost totally paralyzed as a result of the conditions of insecurity. The population, in addition to war, dies of disease, hunger and malnutrition. The livestock, one of the main wealth of Somalia, has been decimated by the ongoing raids, by the chaotic displacements imposed for reasons of defense, the frequent difficulty of reaching safely, pastures. In these conditions, epidemics have found favorable ground in debilitating the animals, undermining the basis of the national economy.


The continuous wars affected even the agricultural sector, which was already limited in negligible proportions.

As has been repeatedly stressed, that poverty and lack of food are key elements which exacerbate the social tensions and conflicts in our country.
Obviously, we alone would not be able to get out of this crisis without external help. Assistance is also indispensable for the formation of public forces to be entrusted with the disarmament of the civilian population, the reactivation of the infrastructure requiring large material means that Somalia does not have today.

The parties to the conflict, according to many, would not have been able to continue this senseless war for over eighteen years, unless financed from outside. Despite the arms embargo imposed by the United Nations, modern sophisticated weapons continue to arrive in Somalia. In addition to that, there are foreign forces that, in order to achieve their strategic and economic interests, are exploiting the situation of crisis or weakness in which the country is. Discharges of toxic wastes in the territorial sea and on land that the mass media have repeatedly brought to light are a clear testimony that these forces now regard the territory as a res nullius and our marine resources are subjected to continuous exploitation by foreign entities who act as pirates.
The international community has taken a clear position about the need for unity and territorial integrity of Somalia.


The builders of ideal peace must be the Somalis themselves without an external pressure. Citizenship constitutes a natural substitute of  tribal identity and the alternative to the anarchy is represented by the rule of law, where everyone, including the state, is subject to the law. We must convince ourselves that the time in which men govern and exercise their powers on other people is over.


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