Saturday, 17 August 2013


August 16, 2013 By Faisal Roble Every government that came to Mogadishu since the Barre regime had claimed to be legitimate. The loudest noise and more intense claim for legitimacy had been echoed by the current government. On the contrary, the current government is less legitimate than its predecessor. Given how much it erred and abused the recently drafted Provisional Federal Constitution (PFC), one could easily argue that Hassan Sheikh’s government in Mogadishu is a government with the least legitimacy and may have dashed once again probable hopes for regrouping Somalia. An African proverb says: WHEN ELEPHANTS FIGHT, THE GRASS DISAPPEARS. When the President of Somalia vows to undermine the Provisional Federal Constitution (PFC) of Somalia, the country suffers and further disintegration becomes the norm. If so, one can’t protect a nation whose President is undoing its very binding constitution. Who needs a Federalist Constitution? In case the novice President and his team failed to fathom the profundity of the need for the current PFC, it was intended to address three main objectives that are central to Somalia’s existence as a united country: constThe first objective was to curtail the disintegration of the Former Republic of Somalia. Somalia’s disintegration started in earnest with the suffocation of democratic values during the years of the Military rule. In search for change, young military officers, mainly hailing from the Puntland regions of Somalia, tried to remove the late dictator, General Mohamed Siyad Barre, through a military coup. By this time, the Barre regime was showing signs of major political fissures, and his authority’s legitimacy was in the waning. By the 1980s, some of the young officers who escaped Barre established armed opposition front, the Somali Salivation Democratic Front (SSDF), led by the late President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed. Few years later, the Somali National Movement (SNM), once led by Ahmed Silanyo, the current President of Somaliland also established its shack in Addis Ababa of Ethiopia. With these two groups (mainly representing two major clans of Somalia’s establishment) establishing military bases in Ethiopia, the hitherto adhered ethos of “Though Shall not Seek help from the Enemy, Ethiopia,” was permanently altered. Towards the end of 1980s, the United Somali Congress of the late General Aidid, a junior partner in the removal of Barre joined the parties in Addis Ababa. This then was the beginning of the disintegration of Somalia and the formation of the genesis of the second republic. To that end, in 1993, the SNM declared a unilateral secession from the rest of Somalia, followed by the SSDF establishing the first and formidable autonomous region of Puntland in 1998. Both regions are today more peaceful, better governed and less corrupt than Mogadishu, with a fledgling managed democratic cultures. Additionally, the Puntland state skillfully helped midwifed the birth of the PFC and attaches particular importance to the protection of the integrity of the document. The mayhem, terrorism, corruption, rampant rape cases that regularly take place in Mogadishu are almost non-existent in these two regions. How can Mogadishu, therefore, bring these regions back to the fold within the context of the second republic was one of the arching objectives of the PFC. A second objective of the PFC was to lend legitimacy to new and future leaders in Somalia who lost legitimacy after the 1991 civil war. One of the everlasting negative impacts the Barre regime imparted on Somalia is the erosion of political legitimacy. Prior to the Barre regime, the Somali Youth League (SYL) and the Somali National League (SNL) enjoyed tremendous political legitimacy in the 1940s through the 1960s. These parties were the main forces that translated the nationalist struggle of Sayid Mohamed Abdulle Hassan (father of modern Somali national resistance) in the late 1890s through the 1920s into modern and western style political activism that eventually (1960) delivered independence, hence the establishment of the first republic. Both presidents Adan Abulle Osman and Abdulrashid Ali Sharmarke, as well as their respective Prime Ministers (AbdiRazak Haji Husseing and Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Igal) belonged to the said parties. With an impressive degree of legitimacy given by their constituents, these leaders established the first legitimate, albeit weak democratic governance in the country. General Siyad Barre overthrew that government in 1969 and hence eroded any semblance of legitimacy in the governance system of Somalia. It is well established in the Political Science literature that without legitimacy, governance is almost impossible, therefore follows suite anarchy and civil disorder, as the case has been with Somalia since the 1991 civil war. The problem of solving Somalia’s governance is not because Barre’s (negative) legacies are too rigid to erase them, that is to say “Ayax tag eelna reeb,” or “the locust is gone but its effect is with us” can’t be a theory to explain the perpetual failure of governance in Somalia. Both national and international efforts notwithstanding, the endeavor of lifting Somalia up from the ashes has been a herculean, albeit unsuccessful mission. Other Sub-Saharan African countries that experienced similar disorder seem to have quickly recovered. One may ask why the difference? It is only so because leaders of those African countries regained a healthy dose of legitimacy to institute changes for forward moving. The central problem for Somalia, on the other hand, has been and still is, to wit, the loss of political legitimacy and the constant failure to regain that precious commodity. How to reestablish political legitimacy for Somalia’s authority was also one of the objectives of the PFC. The PFC, therefore, is the last attempt or tool to help lift Somalia up and remedy that absence of legitimacy. A third objective of the PFC was to democratize the country through a constitutional system of governance that divides power and decisions making between the center and the regions. Because of the absence of any legitimate body to govern, outside the traditional power structures headed by clan chiefs, elders and religious leaders, Somalia has yet to democratize its polity[i]. Without democratic institutions in place, and absent of any legitimate authority in the country, neither mass violence, unbridled rape of women (Mogadishu is the epicenter of rape cases), nor corruption (including supervising looting aid monies) is accountable in Mogadishu. Without a transparency, so far not a single individual has been brought to justice (outside those poor pirates tried in foreign courts) to answer the pillage of Somalia and the destruction of its infrastructure, the mass violence in Mogadishu in 1991, or women being raped with impunity. The stealing of 80% of aid given to Somalia by foreign aid even passed to the oblivion with a mere lukewarm response from the very perpetrators of said corruption. To add insult to an injury, the late Osman Atto (RIP), who is blamed to have sold some of the country’s looted infrastructure as scrap metal to Uganda, a well-established warlord, received a national burial honor from President Hassan Mohamoud on August 10, 2013. This is a nation whose sense of fairness faded away to the depth of darkness. Next honor could easily go to Abdi Wal, Indha Cade, Haji Musse Yallaxo and the rest who are comfortably resting in Mogadishu. Watching yesteryear’s “Pearl of the Indian Ocean” resemble a medieval European haunted house of horror and terror is a trouble thing to experience. Violating the Provisional Federal Constitution (PFC) Illegal Changes to the PFC The President during his tenure, now about one year, violated the spirit and intent of the PFC of the Somali Federal Republic. However, the President of Puntland, Dr. Abdirahman Farole, has been warning Somalis and non-Somalis alike of the looming danger in tempering with the integrity of the document. Finally, at his inaugural speech on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the Puntland autonomous government, President Faroole announced, after serious consultation with his cabinet, the leadership of the Puntland State of Somalia decided to suspend relations with the Federal Government of Somalia. The main reason for what amounted to be a political earthquake is the result of incessant tampering, changes, distortions and illegal amendments brought to the PFC by Mogadishu and the novice President, Hassan Sheikh. As delineated in a draft memo released by the government of Puntland, about twenty five articles of the PFC have been changed, altered, amended or distorted by Mogadishu. Some of the changes, for example, finalizing the status of the Capital City, or the requirement for 40,000 signatories as opposed to 400,000 to engender any amendment, are significant changes to the original contents of the PFC. Additionally, the legal process for corrections, change or amendments to the constitution was gravely violated. So far the explanations given by Mogadishu or its mouthpiece regarding said changes are unacceptable to Puntland leaders and Somalis at large. The chairman of the Parliament, Mr. Jawari, has been docile and silent at the wake of a political tsunami brewing under his watch. Erroneous Interpretations of the PFC In addition to illegal and sly changes made to the PFC, distortive interpretations made to some of the articles are deepening the political crisis and the looming disintegration of the country. On August 11, 2013, for example, the President had picked a governor for Galmudug region. The enabling articles of the constitution that are cited for the Presidential action to handpick a governor for Galmudug case are Articles 18, 90, and 99. Nothing can be more unprofessional and non-judicious than this act and the erroneous citation of completely unrelated relief. For the record, Article 18 (Inviolability of Home) refers to legal property ownership; Article 90, a) through q), is all about the President’s powers in declaring wars, appointing Ministers, opening the house of the representatives….. A remote resemblance between the action of the President and the contents of this Section is perhaps found in Section k), which talks about the President’s responsibilities to “appoint senior Federal Government officials and the heads of the Federal Government Institutions on the recommendation of the Council of Ministers.” However, unless someone is challenged in their understanding of their eight grade level civic studies, the Section cited above is talking about federal level institutions and entities, and has no relationship with this President hand picking a regional post that is non-federal and non-professional assignments. It is such a silly way of handling the affairs of the PFC that prompted Mr. Faroole to pronounce “war ayay na moodeen,” or “who do they think we are,” implying that the community of Puntland is more sophisticated than Hassan Sheikh thinks. Lastly Article 99, Responsibilities of the Council of Ministers, (a) though (i), delineates the functions of the Council of Ministers. Some of the highlights of the Sections under this Article include (a) formulate the overall government policy and implement, (d) prepare an annual budget, (e) set the national policy, etc. The only Article which the President may attempt to misinterpret in order to get his way is Section (i), “Exercise any other power conferred upon it by the Constitution or by other laws. In nowhere does the Constitution empower unelected technocrats or ministers over the will of the people of Somalia. Article 48 calls for two levels of governments, one federal and another regional. When it comes to the formation of local government, the constitution fully empowers not Mogadishu, and certainly not with the Council of Ministers, but the residents of the regions. There is no way to go around this fact, unless one is determined to lead Somalia into a full blown and irreparable disintegration. If correctives measures are not take immediately to arrest the recalcitrant behavior of Mogadishu, Puntland and, possibly Jubbaland, may depart company with Mogadishu. They will do so because these entities have legitimacy with their masses and hence can execute such radical decisions. Concluding Remarks Under this President, not only is the PFC under attack, but even humanitarian organizations are not safe, the latest casualty being Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). According to an August 15, 2013 article by AFP, “leaders in Somalia are playing a role in “the killing, assaulting and abducting of humanitarian aid workers either through direct involvement or tacit approval.” Otherwise a tough nut to crack, MSF decided to withdrew its operation because “the “last straw” came when it discovered that some of Somalia’s official authorities were supporting or condoning the lethal attacks on its aid workers.” – Very sad! If carefully read, Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud’s behaviors are indicative of the early days of Siyad Barre’s power grabbing, only less charismatic he is and he surrounded himself with less qualified docile aides. Given that Puntland, Jubbaland, Khatumo regions, and certainly Somalilanders have paid with blood and sweat to have a system of federal governance not to mention the blood path taking place in the Shabble regions, Mogadishu must drop its unconstitutional and centrist ideology so that the flicker of light Somalis saw only a year ago will not fade away. If this President cannot implement the intent and spirit of the PFC, if he is resolute to temper, distort, illegally amend and erroneously interpret, and if he can’t protect civilians both national and international, what is there to convince Somaliland to come back to the fold? As to Puntland, President Faroole should consider toughening his timely suspension of any dealings with the Mogadishu government more, and Jubbaland should soon stop appealing to Mogadishu and embark on its own course until the right time for constructive engagement comes. Meanwhile, those of us who love both Mogadishu and Somalia equally must sing in the spirit of Julius Caesar’s era of Rome: We love Mogadishu not less, but we love legitimate leadership for Somalia and its people more. Unfortunately, Mogadishu elites, with the exception of very few, are adamant to supervise both the death of Mogadishu and the demise of Somalia with one sharp spade. Faisal A. Roble


Somalis fare much worse than other immigrants; what holds them back? Aug 17th 2013 |From the print edition BARBER shops are excellent places for gossip. Hassan Ali’s place in Kentish Town is no different. The north Londoner arrived in Britain from Somalia with dreams of becoming a mechanic. But he was good at cutting hair: you do whatever work you can, he says. Most Somalis—Britain’s largest refugee population—do not work. They are among the poorest, worst-educated and least-employed in Britain. In a country where other refugees have flourished, why do Somalis do so badly? The first Somalis to arrive in Britain, over a century ago, were economic migrants. Merchant seamen settled in cities with docks: Cardiff, Liverpool and London. As civil war ravaged Somalia in the 1990s, refugees flocked to Britain. In 1999, the high-water mark, 7,495 Somalis arrived (11% of the refugees that arrived in Britain that year). Since then, the influx has slowed (see first chart); it still leaves a large community. The 2011 census identified 101,370 people in England and Wales who were born in Somalia. Poverty is their first problem. Over 80% of Somali-speaking pupils qualify for free school meals. In Waltham Forest, a borough in east London, home to nearly 4,000 Somalis, 73% live in households on benefits. More than 50% of British Somalis rent from local councils, the highest proportion of any foreign-born population. In nearby Tower Hamlets 2010 data showed that Somalis were twice as likely as white Britons to be behind with the rent. The cost of their economic marginalisation hurts them, and is a toll on the public sector, too. Education looks an unlikely escape route. Overcrowded houses mean children have nowhere to do their homework. In 2010-11 around 33% of Somali children got five good GCSEs, the exams taken at 16, compared with 59% of Bangladeshi pupils and 78% of Nigerian ones. Parents unable to speak English struggle. They see their children move up a year at school and assume they are doing well (in Somalia poor performers are held back). Their offspring, roped in as translators, are in no hurry to disabuse them. This helps to explain the pitiful employment rates among Britain’s Somalis (see second chart). Just one in ten is in full-time work. Many Somali households are headed by women who came to Britain without their husbands. Fitting work around child care is a struggle. Without work, Somali men while away their days chewing khat, a mild stimulative leaf. Awale Olad, a Somali councillor in London, supports the government’s recent decision to ban the drug. But others fear it will needlessly criminalise a generation of men. Religion, however, is an overstated problem. It is true that, like their Bangladeshi and Pakistani counterparts, some young Somalis are embracing stricter forms of Islam. Amina Ali, who hopes to stand as an MP at the next election, worries when she sees girls of three wearing headscarves. People can respect Islam without being so conservative, she says. But religion unites young Somalis with other young Muslims, says Ismail Einashe, a journalist. A few are radicalised, but most are not. This cocktail of poverty and unemployment dogs Somalis elsewhere too. In 2009 they were the least-employed group in Denmark. The Norwegian government is so worried about its Somali community it wants research done on their plight. Even discounting such factors as religion, age and experience, compared with other black Africans in Britain, Somalis face an “ethnic penalty” when job-hunting. Their disadvantages are clear. But Britain is rightly perceived as a country in which it is relatively easy to set up businesses; it also offers the hope of a warm welcome with its large Somali and Muslim population. This should bode well for Somalis. Many are hopeful. Somalis want their children to succeed, so growing numbers are hiring private tutors (see article). In 2000 just one Somali teenager in the London borough of Camden passed five GCSEs with good grades. To improve matters, the council and others set up the Somali Youth Development Resource Centre, which mentors students and lends them books. Last year the figure rose to 59%. Abdikadir Ahmed, who works there, says his organisation encourages people to put the entrepreneurial skills they learn in gangs to better use. He works with Somalis locked up in Feltham prison, a young-offenders jail. Their numbers are dropping, he reckons. Somalis played little part in the summer riots of 2011. This investment reflects a deeper change. For years many Somalis kept their suitcases packed, ready to return to Africa for good, says Mr Olad. Firm in the belief that they would soon be on the move, there was little point in putting down deep roots, or encouraging their children to do so. But the current generation of Somalis grew up in Britain. For them a permanent return to Somalia holds less appeal. Young British Somalis still embrace their nomadic heritage. But now they seek a dual identity, able to flit between two homelands and, they hope, to make the best of both. From the print edition: Britain

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Five reasons why we are a mediocre country

Today I don’t need any crystal ball to tell you what you know, but which you deny. We are a mediocre country, and we know it. We are malignant, uncouth, corrupt, and – get this – cursed with an evil eye. But we weren’t always so little, small, and spiteful. We used to dream big. But our dreams died. Now we have nightmares – and night sweats. We’ve become a defensive, easily slighted nation. We are an epithet-riddled people. Our mouths need to be washed with soap. Our hate-dripping fingers shouldn’t be allowed near a keyboard, or keypad. Which begs the question – why have our brains shrunk? Are we “devolving” instead of “evolving?” Here are five unarguable secrets we are mediocre. First, we’ve “outsourced” our brains – and inner conscience – to mobs. We no longer think as individuals, but as mobs. We are no different from a herd of buffalo. Look – “tribal identity” is the first thing you most want to know about any Kenyan you meet. Admit it – that’s what you hear in the person’s name. Bingo – Makau must be Kamba, Githongo a Kikuyu, Ochieng a Luo. That’s how you decide into which “mobs” you will “confess” or which political cartels you will support. We’ve become Pavlovian dogs – we “salivate” on cue upon seeing our “mob.” We lose our individual agency within the tribe. Full professors become tribal bloviators. They revert to nature, and start crawling on all fours. Tell you what – the tribal mob robs us of our intellect, and turns us into morons. Our noggin becomes an empty calabash. Our heads become incubators of genocidal thoughts. That’s not as big of a leap as you think. If you doubt me, flash back to the 2008 Eldoret Kiambaa church fire. Our state’s – and society’s – proclivity for anti-intellectualism is woven around the tribe. It’s all about “eating” or looting, to be less euphemistic. Like maggots, we look to the state for pork when “ours” are in power. That’s why power is a zero-sum game. Never mind the existence of so-called devolved counties. The same folks who yesterday used to “eat” in Nairobi are now pillaging county governments. Second, we are a corrupt people. That’s right – we are victimised by small dreams because we have become one of the most corrupt people on earth. Virtually every Kenyan wants a shortcut to money. Lie, cheat, steal, kill – it doesn’t matter how you get the money. I know – you want to blame it all on the MPs. But – and don’t argue here – the “little people” are equally corrupt. It’s ironic the “little people” have the gall to complain about the naked and rapacious greed of MPs. That’s nothing but jealousy. The “little people” would rob us blind if they got the chance. The kettle shouldn’t call the pot black. We’ve become a nation of thieves. We’ve no problem stealing from strangers. We mug each other in broad daylight. We knock down the old and infirm and make off with their purses and wallets. But we also steal from family members. Raise your hand if you haven’t been victimised by a relative. But we pretend to be a religious nation. Don’t make me laugh. Unless being religious – Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or a kamuti believer (Kamba spell) – means that you can “pinch” that which isn’t yours with impunity. Remember the expression – “why hire a lawyer when you can buy a judge?” Even judges have been for sale. I sure hope Chief Justice Willy Mutunga stamps out the vice in the Judiciary. Can he defeat the corrupt networks? Third, we are in love with leaders with shady or even criminal backgrounds. Just look at who we’ve elected into county and national offices. One wink and we all know what I am talking about. Some are land grabbers, suspects of egregious offences, drug addicts, and a sordid assortment of beefy-necked pillagers squat in public offices. That’s your fault – because you either elected them, or allowed them to manipulate their way into office. Remember the statement by French philosopher Joseph de Maistre – “every country has the government it deserves”. We elect our tormentors, and then wonder why we are being tormented. We aren’t victims, but self-victimisers. We just love that boot of the oppressor on our necks. Fourth, we are jealous and spiteful. Like maggots, we like to pull each other down. Why aren’t we happy for the success of others unless they belong to our mob? The election of Senator Barack Obama to the White House was one of the most important events that’s ever happened to Kenya. But a segment of our population has trashed him because he’s “Luo.” They’ve done so because he shunned Kenya after the 2007 re-election of President Mwai Kibaki, which he viewed as illegitimate. Then he skipped Kenya on his recent Africa tour because of The Hague trials of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto. Haters can’t see beyond President Obama’s Luo heritage. Hate only diminishes the hater. Finally, we are mediocre because we refuse to accept our mediocrity. We are the terminal patient living in complete denial. But denialists are usually doomed. Will damnation be our lot? What, as a country, can we do to accept that we are below average? For one, we can start by stopping hating everyone who tells us the bitter truth. When Mr Obama said he would skip Kenya, a prominent pundit asked Kenyans to “show him the contempt card.” Wow – as if Mr Obama cares. We should stop being so sensitive, and acting like silly brats. Makau Mutua is Dean and SUNY Distinguished Professor at SUNY Buffalo Law School and Chair of the KHRC Twitter @makaumutua

The duplicity of America’s foreign policy

By AHMEDNASIR ABDULLAHI Posted Saturday, August 10 2013 at 18:02 IN SUMMARY “I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world … In Ankara I made it clear that America is not and never will be at war with Islam … So let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by another. That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people” — President Barrack Obama, Al Azhar University, Cairo, June 4, 2009. John Kerry, America’s Foreign Secretary, in the past week commented on two political scenarios unfolding on the African continent. His contrasting comments show not only the moral bankruptcy of the Obama Administration, but also poignantly underline how low America’s stature on the global scene has sunk under Obama’s watch. The Obama Administration is chipping off and depleting at an alarming rate America’s stock of credibility and stature built over centuries. Kerry’s two statements touched on the elections in Zimbabwe and the dire situation in Egypt. He condemned the result of elections that showed President Robert Mugabe as the winner and declared that the same didn’t reflect the will of the people. Referring to the military overthrow of President Mohamed Morsy, Kerry declared that the same was not a coup and congratulated the Egyptian army for “restoring democracy”. Is this American hypocrisy? No, it isn’t. This duplicitous double speak is a simple restatement of America’s foreign policy under Obama. It is based on temporal expediency, an ad hoc address of global issues with no underlying values, no moral compass or principles. It is not even informed by selfish American self-interest, for that, in itself, would have been something admirable! Obama’s foreign policy towards the Muslim world has a sole defining pillar. Drones remote controlled from the deserts of Nevada or some satellite stations in the Horn of Africa inform and guide it. This militarist themed foreign policy has been unclothed by the overthrow of Morsy and his continued incarceration by the military junta in Cairo. The Obama Administration has refused to see the obvious that Morsy was overthrown. To the contrary, the Obama Administration holds the view that the new administration, under the de facto control of General Abdel Fattah Sisi, was constitutional and didn’t depose Morsy. How can an administration that can’t be honest about such a simple factual scenario be taken seriously on matters of global diplomacy? Cover for coup It has now come to light that General Sisi and the Obama Administration simply used the Tamarrod campaign against Morsy as a cover for the coup. Contrary to the widely exaggerated view that the demonstrators at Tahrir Square were in their millions, it has now come to light through Google counts that they were roughly about 150,000. At that point, Morsy had a popularity rating of slightly 40 per cent higher than any Western ruler. That a constitutionally elected president can be overthrown 12 months after his election, imprisoned and the West rushes to endorse the new military administration underscores very silent issues in the Muslim world. General Sisi’s Administration is a simple takeover and return by the Mubarak Administration with the explicit approval of Obama. First, America and the West, contrary to their lamentable lullabies, will never allow democracy to take root in the Middle East and North Africa. It may sound “third worldish” but such a scenario is against their interests! They are better off relying on venerable monarchies who are on the throne courtesy of American patronage. Secondly, the battle for Egyptian democracy lies ahead. The looming threat by Gen Sisi that he will clear the hundreds of thousands of Egyptians calling for the return of Morsy and the tacit brooding by the West to clear the streets will be decisive. Whoever wins that battle will rule Egypt. Ahmednasir is the publisher, Nairobi Law Monthly

Monday, 22 July 2013

Climbing down the mountain