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Simple Idea for Somalia's Current Institution Building

Simple Idea for Somalia's Current Institution Building

by Abdullahi Kulane
December 24, 2013

Somalia turmoil has taken deep root. The current trend of fragile governing structure, corruption, lack of reliable justice system among many other challenges will reverse the progress made thus far by the government. These daunting challenges could take the future of the state into abyss. With honesty political will and skillful structuring system, the country could turn around.

As it’s noticeable on his resume, I am sure the newly appointed Prime minister has the length of experience and educational attainment. Given the weak institutions he inherits, a sort of Neo-patrimonialism in which there is no objective administrative structures and clear cut separation, these are few ideas which should curb much of the fraud, waste, and corruption and promote justice and reconciliation.

Competent Judicial system
The judicial system in Somalia is dysfunctional. The justice system needs complete overhaul. All levels of judicial system must be restored, the lower court, higher court, and court of appeal. The justice system is important player in the government’s checks and balance, for the security of the country, and the safety and well-being of the society. Without effective judicial system, higher level political corruption as well as lower level favoritism exists and will likely be the norm.

Clearly, as we learned from the past conflicts between the former presidents and prime ministers, which created public furor, and at times, dug out suspicions and revitalized divisions among government branches, similar incidents is likely ahead. These conflicts are merely causes of unclear constitutional interpretation and lack of distinct roles. Over the years, the ever-growing scandal has exposed unsavory and sometimes illegal and sleaze from the political coterie both from the prime minister’s sides and of the president.

The creation of Supreme Court in which five, seven, or nine experienced and competent judges are named by the executive branch and confirmed by the parliament will enhance integrity of our constitution, keep the government in the constitutional framework and protect the citizens from government’s power abuses. These justices will interpret the constitution. Therefore, I will recommend the creation of constitutional Supreme Court.

Reconciliation Commission
The government should set up reconciliation commission which will consist of judges and civil society leaders. These commissioners will have the ability to travel around the country with the aim of fostering dialogue, and learning the atrocities committed during the long civil war which engulfed the country and make recommendation to the president. The history of what happened, what went wrong is important to deter similar incidents in the future.

In addition, the commission must conduct active listening, make arbitration, document concessions, and oversee restitutions. Their mandate should be the crimes happened in the civil war era committed with the intent of furthering political cause by an individual or group. Different criminal intents should be for normal court proceedings. The commission will differentiate interests from issues. Interest –based problem solving will work better to reconcile the interests of various groups in the country to obtain a mutually-satisfactory solution. What seem to be intractable conflicts can turn out to be manageable clashes. The reconciliation is not difficult as most of the conflicts in Somalia are not value difference caused with the exception of Alshabab phenomenon. The efforts should be to carry out restorative justice, designed not to punish the wrong-doers, but rather to restore the victims and the relationship to the way they were before the offence.

Corruption
There are many forms of corruption practices in Somalia’s institutions. These corruption practices could cripple the government functions, revive inter-clan conflicts, and deepen the mistrust currently evident within the society. It also may drain out funding and will likely to turn off donors generosities. To eliminate corruption or to reduce it, I would suggest these ideas:

Reliable Financial Institution
Many of us went through hundreds of pages of report put together by UN Monitoring Group. The report detailed when corruption incidents happened, how it happened, who did it, and sometimes had clear facts on many of the allegations made in the report. So far, the government did not harness the financial integrity, but instead continued towards the status quo. According to Transparency International, Somalia is listed as the most corrupted government in the world. Few months ago, the governor of Somalia’s central bank, Astur, resigned. In the resignation letter, the former governor alleged the causes of the resignation to organized tycoons who threatened her. This notorious group pressured the governor to accept corruption. Furthermore, the governor assailed the president for not intervening when it mattered.

The international community, the donors, as well as the citizens of the state are closely watching the financial integrity and your approach to that sector. There is patronage, clientelism, privatization of state owned properties to political allied businesses. Very soon, the elite cartel will take deep root with an ugly form of even controlling State institution with financial means.

Currently, the only sources of income for the government is the seaport and airport, while the government is streamlining other means of resource mobilization and taxation, the money generated from these points should be collected and managed carefully. The donor funding should be directed to the key government programs. For instance, security, infrastructure, and government institutions should be priorities.

Wealth Declaration Policy
The cabinet ministers and the directors of government agents should declare their wealthy before taking oath of office. This simple gesture will be first step to restoring public confidence and keeping them in check

Accountability Mechanism
There must be accountability mechanism in place for all government branches. Government audit branch must be created and the parliament must grant them with enough powers to investigate and prosecute those who participate in waste, fraud, or corruption of public resources.

National Tax Agent
National Tax Agent should be created with powers to collect and enforce tax codes and laws. Perhaps, the parliament needs to develop tax code suggested by your office or the finance minster. The tax code should clearly state the taxes which federal government should collect. At this time, there are no tax codes adapted. Whatever government collects is unlawful and unless there is a fair tax code adapted by the parliament, it can be challenged in a court of law.

Monetary Reserve Board
The board will create monetary policies, print money, and will look into overall health of the economy and make policies that guide the banking systems. The parliament can only create such an agent with the president’s suggestion when you recommend to him.

Government Contract Policy
The government must have contract policy which is fair for all. All government branches should follow the guidelines of this policy. If necessary, special agent under the prime Minister or President’s office should be created. Fair, open, and transparent bidding process for all government contracts will prevent corruption. It will eliminate nepotism, and streamline good governing structure and trustable institutions.

In nutshell, Mr. Prime Minister, your new administration should take different approach, build up the justice system, encourage reconciliation, and strengthen the government institutions to limit corruption. These simple ideas could frame your policies. We are all closely watching the development in the country and will be delighted to see better Somalia in the near future.

*************

Abdullahi Kulane is a blogger based in St.Cloud, Minnesota.

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