Two Policy Priorities for the Federal Government of Somalia

President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has described the outcome of London Somalia Conference as “an unmitigated success”. If one takes into account such milestones as the Security Pact,  the President’s verdict is accurate. Like his election as a President of the Federal Republican of Somalia in February, the London Somalia Conference has raised expectations people have of the new administration.

Two immediate policy priorities for the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) are (1) the creation of an inclusive  National Army and (2) combating corruption. As the Security Pact unveiled in London on 11 may 2017 shows, achieving milestones in the Security  Pact depends on the commitment and cooperation of the Federal Member States (FMS).  The Security Pact envisages ” civilian oversight role of the executive over the armed forces.” This principle could prove to be a stumbling-block to operationalising the Security Pact for two reasons. 1- The current structure of the Somali National Army is a legacy of President Farmaajo’s predecessor. According to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Somali National Army Units based in Marka, the administrative capital of Lower Shabelle, belong to “one subclan”. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud appointed the last two commanders of the Somali National Army before the February election. Last year this lopsided structure of the army nearly brought Puntland and Galmudug States to the brink of a large-scale inter-clan conflict.  The Somali Army units were based in Galmudug; Puntland has it own Defence Forces.   The principle of executive oversight had better be replaced by or supplemented with oversight based on the National Leadership Forum. Such  collective decision-making will enhance conflict resolution capacity of Federal Member States. It will make an accusation for nepotism less likely in Somalia’s political environment in which the President, the Prime Minister and the Commander of the Somali National Army hail from Galmudug State.  The executive branch of the government will not be able to make a decision on the existing parallel armies who do not view themselves as a National Army particularly in areas where government-affiliated forces took sides in inter-clan conflicts or victimised citizens in contested regions.  The Federal Government cannot shed light on the extent to which disparities in funding Somalia’s parallel army contribute to insecurity in regions.
The second policy priority for the FGS  – combating corruption – faces a major hurdle. President Farmaajo endorsed the National Development Plan launched by the government of his predecessor whom he had accused of corruption and  using public money to orchestrate a vote of no confidence against a Prime Minister.  The Security Pact noted, “institutional capacity remains weak on governance, justice and the rule of law, security, human rights and delivery of basic services.”
The National Development Plan is based on the reasoning that the Federal Government of Somalia  knows the needs of Federal Member States. The SNP smacks of centralism and is ahistorical given the fact that the toppled military regime abandoned planned economy in 1986, the year a new development plan was about to be launched after the 1982-1986 development plan had come to an end. Somali political leaders must consider the abolition of the Ministry of Planning. A Ministry of Planning stifles the creativity of Somalis described by the Prime Minister of Ethiopia as ” enterprising people”. The pre-war National Development Plans created food shortages and divided the country into centres and peripheries. Money raised in the name of development was channelled into the army to keep the military dictatorship in power.  President Farmaao’s campaign against corruption will hit a snag if citizens begin to view it as a rhetoric signified by cronyism,  recycling of his predecessor’s clique and inclination towards centralism.

Liban Ahmad



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