Where were we yesterday?
1. Transitional Federal Institutions were established (TFI) in Kenya in 2004.
A) Despite well known deficiencies in the system in which the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) was created, most Somalis embraced it as a first step in the right direction toward a beginning of a long reconciliation process for our nation and for our people. One needs not to dwell on how the TFG was created in Nairobi. History has already recorded who, what, when, why and how the TFG was established.
B) Political wrangles began inside the TFG soon after its inception. TGF failed to take advantage of the short lived momentum it had enjoyed at its inception. The introduction of controversial policies divided the Parliament. Soon afterwards, the Parliament relocated in two different cities.
2. Badio was chosen as the temporary seat for the TFG to begin the reconciliation process.
A) In February, 2006, the Parliament Speaker and the President -in Aden declaration- agreed to reconvene the entire parliament in one location for the first time. Many Somalis again became hopeful that some sort of progress could be achieved as result of this agreement.
B) International recognition poured in to support the existence of TFG. Arab league, AU and EU have all expressed and provided political, economic and diplomatic support to the TFG and hailed the reconvening of the parliament for the first time in Somali soil as a success.
C) The TFG failed to deliver on its promises. One of the possible reasons for this failure is lack of vision. A nation is as good as the vision of its leadership. Lack of a clear vision could lead to chaos and confusion. One other possible reason for this failure is the lack of government priorities; one cannot start building a home from the roof. One must first lay down the foundation. The missing foundation was the reconciliation process which was the only mandate the TFG carried as its name transitional had indicated. You cannot transition from the first phase without building a broad consensus and harmony in order to move to the second phase. The greatest TFG setback occurred when the TFG failed to gain the confidence of Somali people whom it claimed to represent.
Where are we now?
3. The end of an era for Somali Warlordism.
A) To the surprise of everybody, all warlords disappeared from the streets of Mogadishu. Jowhar, Kismaio and Beletwein and their surroundings areas after confrontations with a new entity which became known as Union of Islamic courts (UIC). The UIC overpowered all the warlords and immediately restored long awaited law and order to all of the territories under its control in matter of days. This brought sigh of relief with simultaneous celebrations and greetings across Somalia, from Hargesa, to Bossos, from Beletwein to Kismaio. The Somali people have exchanged congratulatory notes in support for the UIC which they have rightfully termed as unexpected miracle from God.
B) TFG was caught off guard by the overwhelming support of the Somali people for UIC. TFG first jubilantly supported the UIC as a Public Uprising organized to uproot what it called the long standing obstacles of peace in the capital Mogadishu. The TFG reiterated that it was these warlords who prevented it to permanently relocate to Mogadishu in the first place. The Public Uprising view is still widely shared by many Somalis across the globe.
C) It is in this period, while war was still raging in Mogadishu; the Parliament passed a controversial resolution with a narrow margin allowing foreign peace keeping force to enter the country.
D) Then the TFG, to the surprise of many Parliamentarians, made 180 degree turn and called the UIC international terrorists designed to destabilize not only Somalia but the entire region. The UIC vehemently denies this accusation stating that the government had it right the first time when it referred the UIC as Public uprising.
4- UIC succeeded in restoring law and order in Mogadishu and other areas under its control.
A) Mogadishu International Airport became operational for the first time in 11 years.
B) Mogadishu Port became operational for the first time in 11 years.
C) Safety, sense of normalcy and security has returned to the entire population of Mogadishu. Women and children can go around the city while conducting their daily businesses without fear of rape, killing, kidnapping and roadblocks. These roadblocks were manned by roaming gangs and ruthless militia who exhorted money from the poor, the powerless and ordinary citizens.
D) UIC had called for dialogue with the Transitional Federal Government and recognized its existence and held peace negotiations with TFG twice so far and had promised more dialogue with TFG in the future.
Where should we be tomorrow?
5- Federal Parliament should consider the venue of dialogue and reconciliation as its guiding force and the means to re-establish trust and respect among Somali people.
A) It is paramount that the negotiation process started in Khartoum between the TFG and UIC be continued. The Federal Parliament should serve as neutral catalyst to pull the parties together. The Parliament insistence to move forward with the August 31 2006 meeting, led to the last successful face-to-face peace negotiation between TFG and UIC. The Parliament needs to continue to facilitate the negotiation between the TFG and UIC.
B) As the civil conflict between Warlords and UIC has now ceased, the presence of international peace keeping force is no longer needed. Federal Parliament ought to reconsider the presence of International peacekeeping in Somalia.
C) The Federal Parliament should establish an independent Commission to investigate assassination attempt against the President. The Somali people need to know who truly is behind the assignation attempt without resorting to any unsubstantiated rumors, agenda driven innuendos and politically motivated finger pointing.
D) The Federal Parliament must conduct all of its constitutionally mandated activities in transparent manner. Every important issue impacting our nation must genuinely be debated and voted in a crystal clear manner. The interest of Somali people should be our primary concern, everything else must be considered as secondary. In order to safe guard already shaky public trust in this institution; there must be concrete system of accountibity. The Federal Parliament should investigate and expel from the chamber any member who is caught violating the anti corruption laws.
E) The Federal Parliament should appeal to the international community (AL, AU, EU, UN and Somali Contact Group) to facilitate genuine dialogue and peace settlement negotiations between UIC and TFG. The International Community should engage directly with Somali intellectuals both inside and outside the government who know and understand the needs of their country and people better than their neighbors. The International Community must be careful not to repeat the Congo Democratic Republic (CDR) syndrome on Somali soil whereby multiple neighbors fought proxy wars for years in which thousands of Congolese citizens perished.
F) Members of Federal Parliament must take their mandates very seriously.
- The mandate to bring the Somali people together through peaceful dialogue and reconciliation and not through the threat of gun.
- The mandate to check and balance the actions of the TFG vs. Federal Charter.
- The mandate to uphold and defend the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Somali Republic as stipulated in Federal Charter.
-The mandate to look after our nation long term interest instead of short term personal/tribal gains.
- And the mandate of our oath to assist our beloved Somalia come out of this long and tragic civil war with its heads high, with its dignity and pride still intact, with peace within itself and with its neighbors.
Better days are yet to come and keep hope alive.
Asha Ahmed Abdalla
Member of Transitional Federal Somali Parliament of Somali Republic
Badioa, SomaliaE-mail: Asha_Somali_Parliament@yahoo.com