The Somali Compact: New Deal Fraught with Pitfalls


The Somali Compact: New Deal Fraught with Pitfalls

Stuart PriceStuart Price

Following the joint endorsement of the Somali Compact in Brussels, Belgium on September 16, 2013, the international community pledged close to 2.5 billion dollars to the Federal Government of Somalia for the implementation of 58 milestones over the the next three years.

As a result, Somalia has been put on a peace and statebuilding path designed, directed and managed by the international community. The reestablishment of State institutions and authorities at all levels, the holding of constitutional referendum in 2015, and a political election in 2016 throughout Somalia have been made the central mission of the Federal Government of Somalia. The new partnership is not free from booby-traps and pitfalls that could cancel its promising prospect. It is not clear if the Development Partners, the Somali elite and people will be able to overcome quickly the current intractable challenges and commit to deploy the efforts, determination and cooperation needed to accomplish these ambitious but existential goals for Somalia.

One of the persistent challenges is the shameful diplomatic ambushes of the government of Ethiopia against the sovereign leadership of the Federal Government of Somalia which results in Ethiopia exercising its supreme authority over Somalia in collusion with Somali factions. Against the protocol of the conference published in advance, the Ethiopian foreign minister lobbied to get special privileges for Abdirahman Farole, the President of Puntland for not disrupting the conference. Expressing his disapproval, the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso said in his closing remarks that “a country cannot live with two presidents. A country needs rule of law, of course in democracy, with inclusiveness, integrating all the parts in the federal structure of your country.”

The Somali Compact hinges on a binding social contract among Somalis through the Provisional Constitution, the existence of national (federal) representative government recognized by the international community, and the consensus that the international relations (foreign policy) of Somalia is under the exclusive realm of the national (federal) government. Parallel or competing local governments in international arenas are incompatible with the New Deal for Somalia.

The Somali Compact concedes that the northern regions of Somalia (Somaliland) enjoy an advanced level of peace, democratic process, development and governance not achieved by the rest of Somalia. However, the authority of Somaliland agreed to seek international development assistance as part of Somalia but with a separate implementation mechanism until national integration is completed. Also, Puntland declared its commitment to contribute to the peaceful, just and productive life for “the whole of Somalia.” The South Central Somalia, the seat of the national body responsible for the representation and protection of the unity and sovereignty of Somalia, is under the stabilization plan authorized by the AU and UN Security Council.

The goals of the New Deal for Somalia mirrors the elements of the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States like the five goals (the inclusive politics, security, justice, economic foundations , and revenue and services) , the partnership principles, the establishment of development and reconstruction fund (DRF), and the creation of mechanisms of mutual accountability and transparency. The principles of Somali ownership and leadership, transparent and predictable aid, sound Public Financial Management (PFM) systems, and support of institutional development capacity are the cornerstones of the Somali Compact.

To streamline the various overlapping priorities, the federal government agreed to develop an integrated plan which meets the requirements of an Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy (IPRS) with financial cost figures before January 2014. It has also agreed to identify a limited number of top priority flagship programmers in December 2013.

There are many constraints to the fulfillment of the many deadlines outlined in the Somali Compact. They include halted progress in the fighting against Al Shabaab, general insecurity, resisted national integration, lack of domestic financial resources, delayed aid disbursement, weak human resource capacity and central leadership, and corruption. The Federal Government of Somalia expects to collect less than 50 million dollars per year as revenue while it needs at least one billion dollars per year to establish a functioning institutional structure at national, regional and district levels.

Pitfalls in the Somali Compact

The first pitfall in the Somali Compact is the contradictory positions of the Development Partners. On the one hand, they emphasize the sovereign leadership of the Federal Government of Somalia over the Somali affairs while on the other hand, they practically deal with Federal Government of Somalia as a faction that must negotiate with militias, regions, and self organized opponents, or as a faction required to execute dictated and conflicting tasks without strong diplomatic and financial backup. An urgent resolution of these contradictory positions is critical.

A second pitfall could come from the use of the distinct names-Somalia and Somaliland- without qualification. In the same context, the separate security arrangement of US and UK with Somaliland without linking to the overall national security structure and strategy of Somalia could trigger new grievances.

A third pitfall is related to the confusion surrounding the question of federalism and the tainted legacy of the UN led constitution-making process. The international community is fully aware that the issue of the form of federalism in Somalia has not been settled among the Somali people and therefore, the UN has the responsibility to dispel immediately the false claims made on the basis of the provisional constitution in order to avoid protracted controversies. Territory owned/controlled in the name and spirit of clan is unconstitutional.

The Federal government must operate within the limits of the provisional constitution and should not be used as a backdoor to settle, without legitimate process, issues that have been left unresolved during the constitutional negotiation between the stakeholders of the Somali National Constituent Assembly. Somalia needs a strong democratic developmental central authority with a well defined, decentralized and accountable system of governance.

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