Somali political transition comes into focus ahead of August poll
Posted Sunday, July 15 2012 at 23:30
- UN calls on Somalis to commit themselves to peace and ensure that next government unites all communities for national healing
With the reign of the Somali Transitional Federal Government set to end after the elections next month, observers are wondering whether the process will catapult the war-torn nation into an era of peaceful and democratic transition.
Somalia has been without an effective central government since the fall of Siad Bare regime in 1991.
It is the 19th year of civil war and without an effective government, Somalia is the world’s most failed State, serving as a safe haven for both Al-Qaeda and pirates.
The transitional government headed by President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, which is supported by UN-backed African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), will be replaced after elections set for August 20.
The Shabaab, a militant Islamist group linked to Al-Qaeda, took advantage of collapse of the State to make the country ungovernable, but with the help of the AU peacekeeping mission, things have been returning to normalcy with the militants now almost completely driven out of Mogadishu.
However, the political democratic process remains fragile.
“The end of the transitional period will be an important milestone, but it is time for us all to begin to look past 20th August and think about the future political dispensation of Somalia,” says Mr Augustine Mahiga, UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Political Office for Somalia, in a recent open letter to the people of Somalia.
“Let me urge all Somalis who are stakeholders in the peace process to sustain the political commitment for a broad-based, inclusive and representative post-transitional arrangement. Somalia deserves a political dispensation based on election, not just selection,” he added.
Mr Mahiga pointed out recent events as key steps in Somalia’s transition process, including the agreement on a provisional Constitution by the roadmap signatories, major meetings on international support for Somalia, and the withdrawal of Al-Shabaab militants from Mogadishu.
Dr Phillip Kasaija, a Makerere university lecturer, participated in the drafting of the Djibouti agreement that provided for the formation of the Transitional Federal government.
“I cannot tell whether the elections will create stability or not, but they will legitimise the process because the transition is ending and the international community cannot allow another extension,” he said.
Major General Nathan Mugisha, the former Amisom commander and now the deputy Ambassador in Somalia, expressed optimism about the coming transition.
“If the process is free and fair, Somalis will give support to those who have been elected, not those holding the guns,” he said.
Maj Gen Mugisha said polls were a golden opportunity for Somalis to choose their leaders using the clan system.
“These leaders must have people’s legitimacy to avoid being seen as warlords who have held Somalis hostage for along time,” he told the Nation in an interview.
In June, the parties met in Nairobi and in a joint communique, the signatories of the process for ending transition were agreed upon.
They include President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, Speaker of the Transitional Federal Parliament Sharif Aden, Prime Minister Abdiweli Ali, among others.
The Nairobi meeting discussed outstanding issues and finalised agreements reached at a meeting held in Ethiopia in May, at which the Somali leaders had agreed to set up a National Constituent Assembly (NCA), which would adopt the nation’s new Constitution in line with the roadmap.