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Cablegate: Somalia - Tfg, Ars, Civil Society Discuss Future Government

VZCZCXRO4112
PP RUEHDE RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHNR #2703 3371648
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 021648Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7791
INFO RUCNSOM/SOMALIA COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC 3112
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CJTF HOA
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL

UNCLAS NAIROBI 002703

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR AF/E AND A/S FRAZER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM SOCI SO
SUBJECT: SOMALIA - TFG, ARS, CIVIL SOCIETY DISCUSS FUTURE GOVERNMENT
MODELS

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and
the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) held a workshop on
federalism and decentralization in Nairobi from November 27 to 29.
The conference drew together high level, cross-clan and
cross-regional representation from Somali scholars, civil society,
Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and Alliance for the
Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) officials, including Prime Minister
Nur Hassan Hussein and ARS Central Committee Chairman Sharif Hassan
Sheikh Adan. Participants candidly discussed federal, unitary and
other forms of government, and their suitability for Somalia. A
large majority of participants expressed reservations about
federalism, and suggested a highly devolved unitary system for
Somalia, in which the central government would delegate power to
regional or local officials or bodies. Participants recognized that
the workshop was an endorsement of the November 26 TFG/ARS unity
government agreement reached in Djibouti. The conference debate
contributed to the Independent Federal Constitutional Commission's
inclusive efforts to draft a national constitution. End Summary.

2. (SBU) At Prime Minister Hussein's request, UNDP and UNPOS jointly
organized a three-day workshop on federalism and decentralization in
Nairobi on November 27-29. A cross-section of the Somali diaspora's
constitutional, economic and governance experts, local Somali
political leadership, civil society representatives and
international subject matter experts participated in the workshop.
Prime Minister Hussein opened and closed the conference, which we
also attended.

3. (SBU) On the first and second days, Somali and international
experts made presentations on federalism and other forms of
government, clan realities in Somalia, electoral management
structure, and governance institutions within the various systems.
On the third and final day a Somalis-only closed session was held
and participants divided into three groups to discuss and address
concerns on each of three questions: aspects of the various systems
of government that they would like to see in the new constitution;
the concerns they had about a federal system; and priority issues,
such as economic, clan, treatment of minorities they would like to
see addressed by any system of government. Transparency and
accountability, democracy and good goverance, rule of law, a fair
and equitable distribution of resources, and separation of powers
were some of the issues discussed in all three groups.

4. (SBU) Details of these closed door sessions were scarce, but
participants told us there was little support for federalism as a
viable model for Somalia. Despite, or possibly because, the TFG's
charter prescribed federalism as the system of governance, many
participants concluded that a unitary but highly devolved system of
government was right for Somalia. Much of their concern centered on
the potential size and power of a federalist government. Responding
to participants' fears, Mark Bowden, UNDP resident coordinated,
argued there was "nothing necessarily wrong with the 'F' word."
Prime Minister Hassan called for the formation of a technical team
of experts to review and to develop further the workshop's key
findings, a request UNDP agreed to undertake.

5. (SBU) Conference participants lauded the workshop for its
substance and timing, given the TFG's and ARS's November 26 Djibouti
agreement on the composition of a unity government.

6. (SBU) Comment: Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the
conference was the effortless way in which ARS and TFG officials
interacted. We marveled as PM Hussein and ARS leader Sharif Hassan
conversed freely, when six months ago they would not have set foot
in the same room. The Prime Minister seemed to command respect from
both TFG and ARS participants. It was also clear that participants
were pleased with progress in Djibouti on a unity government, and
talk of next steps dominated chatter on the margins of the
conference.
RANNEBERGER

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